WALKER – Before the season began, Walker coach Chad Mahaffey believed his team was capable of winning all of its district games.
He also believed his team could lose them all.
In Mahaffey’s first season at the helm, the Wildcats have done the former, emerging victorious against District 4-5A rivals Scotlandville, Live Oak, Central, and now Denham Springs following a 35-13 victory Friday night.
With a win against Zachary in Week 10, Walker (7-2, 4-0) would be district champs — something that doesn’t surprise Mahaffey at all, though he acknowledged the season could’ve gone either way.
“I’d be lying if I said I thought we were going to cake walk through (district play),” Mahaffey said. “But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think we were capable. You never know how a season will unfold, but we’ve improved week to week.”
This was the most dominant district win yet for Walker (7-2, 4-0, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back en route to its sixth straight win.
On the other sideline, Denham Springs (1-8, 0-4) suffered its sixth straight loss despite nearly matching Walker in total yards of offense (389-355).
“I feel like we left 35 points on the board,” DSHS coach Bill Conides said. “We got in the red zone so many times. We were able to move the ball and gash them. We just couldn’t finish drives.”
Walker was led by the monster running back duo of Demetri Wright (163 yards, TD) and Keondre Brown (132 yards, 3 TDs), who finished with a combined 295 yards on 7.3 yards per rush.
The two helped the Wildcats put the game away in the second half, picking up multiple first downs to keep drives alive and scoring when needed - a formula Mahaffey believes could pay dividends in next week’s regular season finale at Zachary and into the postseason.
“Last week was the first week to had them both [Brown and Wright] healthy and going,” Mahaffey said. “I think we always want to be balanced and have that option in there. We’ll always try to take what the defense gives, but to win tight ball games, you have to run the ball. Both of them did a good job of that.”
Walker didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard, marching 60 yards down the field on five plays, the last being a 19-yard touchdown connection between quarterback Ethan McMasters and receiver Brian Thomas for a 7-0 lead.
The teams traded punts on the next two series before Denham Springs kicker Cameron Beall came up short on a 44-yard field goal attempt midway through the first quarter.
The Wildcats made it to the red zone on the next drive, which ended with McMasters throwing an interception in the end zone to DSHS’ Hayden Horne. But the ensuing drive ended in another punt for the Yellow Jackets, who struggled with a plethora of drops and overthrown passes.
“The plays were all there,” Conides said. “The coaches did a great job with the scheme. I thought we called a great game. We just couldn’t finish drives. It’s something we have to learn from. We have a lot of young kids. Twelve months from now, they’ll make those plays.”
But on Friday, they didn’t, and Walker — led by a 26-member senior class — did.
A fumble with Walker leading 7-3 gave the Wildcats the ball at the Denham Springs 36-yard line. They didn’t need long to score, with Wright breaking free off the right tackle for a 27-yard touchdown that put his team ahead, 14-3, going into halftime.
The Yellow Jackets kept things close in the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 10-7 thanks to a 38-yard field goal from Beall and Duhe’s 1-yard touchdown run.
But Brown exploded for Walker in the fourth quarter scoring two touchdowns on runs of 18 yards and 1 yard, respectively, to put the game out of reach.
Walker travels to meet two-time defending Class 5A state
champion Zachary (6-2, 4-0), who rolled to a 55-35 victory over Central.
“Zachary will be a heck of a challenge,” Mahaffey said. “We have an opportunity to win, but we understand the challenge. We’ll appreciate this one tonight, but Sunday we’ll get rolling to win one in Week 10.”
Walker 35, Denham Springs 13
Score By Quarters
Denham Springs 0 3 10 0 - 13
Walker 7 7 7 14 - 35
WHS – Brian Thomas 19 pass from Ethan McMasters (Bradley Cain kick)
DSHS - Cameron Beall 38 FG
WHS - Demetri Wright 27 run (Cain kick)
DSHS - Tristan Duhe 1 run (Beall kick)
WHS - Keondre Brown 18 run (Cain kick)
DSHS - Beall 38 FG
WHS - Brown 23 run (Cain kick)
WHS - Brown 1 run (Cain kick)
First downs 14 15
Total yards 355 389
Rushes-yards 28-65 46-308
Passing yards 290 81
Passes 15-40-0 11-22-1
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-60 5-45
Punts-yards 3-39.3 3-38.6