After his first season together with junior wide receiver Brian Thomas, Walker High coach Chad Mahaffey can’t wait for another year together.
It’s easy to understand why.
“I look forward to seeing how much he can get as a senior,” Mahaffey said of Thomas.
The 6-foot-4 Thomas was among the state’s top receivers during the regular season, elevating his game over his sophomore season which lends credence to Mahaffey’s wishes about what a second year together will bring in his offense in 2020.
Despite doubles team and opposing defense committing safety help, Thomas finished with a career-high 75 catches for 1,275 yards (17.0 yards per catch) and 17 touchdowns, numbers that landed him on the Class 5A All-State honorable mention list for the second straight year – a team that was released Sunday by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
“I felt we had a great season as a team,” said Thomas, who helped Walker to an 8-4 record that included the program’s first trip to the Class 5A state regionals in 20 years. “We could have done better in a couple of games. As the season went on, we progressed each week and came out and played hard. Just worked hard and came out playing harder each week.”
Class 5A state champion Acadiana, which halted Walker’s playoff run in the second round, captured two of the top three honors on the All-State team.
Senior running back Dillon Monette was selected Offensive MVP and second-year coach Matt McCullough, who directed the Rams to a 15-0 season that culminated with a win over Destrehan for the state’s fifth state title, was chosen Coach of the Year.
Zachary's Keilon Brown was chosen as first team quarterback for the second straight year, while the state semifinalist Broncos had Chris Hilton, Dylan Landry and Charles Selders on the honorable mention list.
Other members of the honorable mention team included Central's Riyan Cotton and Scotlandville's Jonathon Horton.
Thomas made his impact felt in all three phases of the game for Walker, returning both kickoffs and punts, along with playing cornerback and safety on defense.
Thomas, the All-Livingston Parish Offensive MVP, was responsible for 1,907 all-purpose yards and 21 touchdowns. He compiled an average of 28.0 yards on 12 kickoffs and a 24.0 punt return average.
He totaled three touchdowns on special teams play.
“He had a tremendous season,” Mahaffey said of Thomas. “As an offensive team, having a guy like that tends to probably scare people out of playing some man without any help which can help the offense out. He’s also a goal-line, red zone threat. It’s a lot easier to have a guy like that down there.”
There weren’t many times Walker wasn’t able to count on Thomas for key contributions last season.
He caught 10 or more passes four times, including 11 on two occasions, one of which included the Wildcats’ 63-21 playoff win over Thibodaux where Thomas amassed 208 yards worth of receptions and three touchdowns.
One of his more head-turning performances came in Week 2 against eventual state runner-up Destrehan where Thomas had 10 catches for 268 yards and two TDs.
Moreover, Thomas was also considered an effective down-field blocker that helped contribute to the Wildcats running game.
“If we were in a funk and needed something to get us going, he was usually the guy to make a play,” Mahaffey said. “Then you may break the dam a little where guys relaxed and played better after that.”
2019 LSWA CLASS 5A ALL-STATE FOOTBALL
WR Will Sheppard Mandeville 6-2 180 Sr.
WR Tavyen Grice, Sam Houston 5-11 170 Sr.
TE Cayden Pierce West Monroe 6-1 205 Sr.
OL Ethan Boyer West Monroe 6-1 310 Sr.
OL Taylor Locksley Acadiana 6-1 225 Sr.
OL Michael Nuber Slidell 6-2 270 Jr.
OL Robbie Pizzolato John Curtis 6-4 290 Sr.
OL Brian Hibbard Catholic 6-1 225 Sr.
QB Keilon Brown Zachary 6-1 180 Sr.
RB Harlan Dixon Slidell 5-11 180 Sr.
RB Dillan Monette Acadiana 5-7 170 Sr.
RB Kyle Edwards Destrehan 6-0 210 Sr.
PK Jacques Comeaux Lafayette 5-8 200 Sr.
ATH Jackson Thomas Catholic 5-9 170 Sr.
DL Ja’Raylon Burks Ruston 5-11 290 Sr.
DL Jacobian Guillory Alexandria 6-3 320 Sr.
DL Adonis Friloux Hahnville 6-2 285 Sr.
DL Connor Finucane Catholic 6-4 280 Sr.
LB Tanner Zordan West Monroe 6-1 205 Sr.
LB Carl Glass Ouachita 5-10 188 Sr.
LB Donovan Kaufman Rummel 5-11 200 Sr.
LB Edgerrin Cooper Covington 6-1 205 Sr.
DB Brooks Miller West Monroe 6-1 200 Sr.
DB Jadarius Clark Alexandria 6-1 180 Sr.
DB Ian Montz Acadiana 6-2 175 Jr.
DB Quinton Cage Rummel 5-10 185 Sr.
P Austin McCready Curtis 6-2 180 Sr.
KR Chandler Washington Covington 5-10 150 Sr.
OFFENSIVE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: DILLAN MONETTE, ACADIANA
DEFENSIVE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: DONOVAN KAUFMAN, RUMMEL
COACH OF THE YEAR: MATT MCCULLOUGH, ACADIANA
Honorable mention: Caleb Phillips, Ruston; Camdyn Crowe, Ruston; Cayle Wheeler, Ouachita; Micah Mansfield, Ouachita; Blake Everette, West Monroe; Derome Williams, West Monroe; A.J. Fenceroy, West Monroe; Peyton Todd, West Monroe; Jacoby Mathews, Ponchatoula; Jordan Smith, Slidell; Matthew Taylor, Covington; Iverson Celestine, Fontainebleau; Kobe Amos, Covington; Kershawn Fisher, Northshore; Donte Daniels, Slidell; Jyrell Oliver, Hammond; Judd Barton, ASH; Derrald Moore, ASH; Malik Nabers, Comeaux; Rhett Pelloquin, Southside; Steven McBride, East Ascension; Brian Thomas Jr., Walker; Chris Hilton Jr., Zachary; Chandler Ware, Barbe; Connor Venetis, Southside; Raytavious Kelly, Ruston; Cole Jeansonne, Alexandria; Collin Haywood, Comeaux; Gavin Leblanc, Acadiana; Dylan Landry, Zachary; Hunter Brown, Barbe; T.J. Finley, Ponchatoula; Alex Garcia, Airline; Kyle Bartley, Sam Houston; Ketravion Hargrove, Ruston; Chaunzavia Lewis, Ouachita; DJ Fleming, Captain Shreve; Lucky Brooks, Acadiana; Josh Parker, Catholic; Dylan Sampson, Dutchtown; Deon Jenkins, Central Lafourche; Tobias Owens, West Ouachita; Kylan Dupre, Catholic; Malcolm Moore, West Monroe; Evan Hicks, Captain Shreve; Thaos Figaro, Acadiana; Cameron George, Acadiana; Michael Crockett, St. Paul’s; Jonathan Horton, Scotlandville; Charles Selders, Zachary; Maason Smith, Terrebonne; Jermaine McNeal, Alexandria; Shamar Spikes, Natchitoches Central; Derreck Bercier, Acadiana; Caleb Arceneaux, Acadiana; Javon Carter, East Ascension; Hayden Shaheen, Catholic; Riyan Cotton, Central; Kavias Honore, Comeaux; Tyreke Boyd, Comeaux; Jacoby Matthews, Ponchatoula; Donald Jones, Scotlandville; Cohen Parent, Dutchtown; Kyren Lacy, Thibodaux; Luke Alleman, Thibodaux; Ja'Khi Douglas, Terrebonne.