BATON ROUGE – The Walker Wildcats were going to have enough on their hands with a muddy field, a slippery ball and undefeated Broadmoor on the road.
But then less than three hours before the game, the Wildcats found out they would be without head coach Lester Ricard and defensive coordinator Marcus Brown, who were placed on administrative leave.
Walker (2-0) overcame it all as quarterback Ethan McMasters threw for 110 yards and two touchdowns, lifting the Wildcats to a 27-6 victory in a non-district game.
At 4:30 the team was told Ricard and Brown had been placed on leave and assistant Cecil Thomas would handle the team. Walker spotted the home team a 6-0 lead but responded quickly while the defense closed the door on Broadmoor’s offense the rest of the night.
“We just had to step up and play football,” McMasters said, who said the coaching situation had no effect on the game. “We had a lot of distractions going on, but we were just focused on the game, take the task at hand and got the win.”
McMasters threw TD passes of 13 yards to Jalen Cook and 68 yards to Trent Montgomery, the latter in the third quarter to help put the game away. The Walker passing game had trouble getting started early but BJ Lockhart ignited the offense with a 20-yard scoring run with 3:23 left in the first quarter.
Defensive back Kolby Moncree stepped in front of a pass by Broadmoor quarterback Najee Jones and returned the ball 24 yards for a score with Bradley Cain adding the second of his two PATs for a 14-6 lead.
“We’ve got some resilient kids, some great kids,” said Thomas, who was head coach two years at Hammond High School. “You never know what you are going to go through in a day, but we’re proud of these kids. They came out and answered the bell. That can go either way. I’m proud of the way they responded.”
It wasn’t pretty for either team but Walker’s defense used the conditions to assert itself and push Broadmoor back whenever they threated. Sacks by Calvin Watson and Ke’Andre Ventress snuffed out the Bucs after it had a first down at the Walker 24.
The offense responded by driving 63 yards in five plays with McMasters hitting Cook over the middle. Cook made a sliding catch just over the goal line for a 21-6 lead just before halftime. Zachary LaCour also had an interception for Walker, which held Broadmoor to 170 total yards. Bucs leading rusher Dedrick Talbert had 31 yards on 13 carries.
“We’re proud of our defense,” Thomas said, “Especially when the D-coordinator (is missing). They prepared all week and did a great job of preparing. It was real big for the defense to step up and play the way they did today.
“(On offense) we tried to cut loose a little bit but as you can see (the conditions). We dribbled the ball back a few times. Their kids played hard, too.”
Walker’s Demetri Wright led all rushers with 86 yards on 18 carries. Lockhart carried only one other time for 23 yards but played a strong defensive game.
“The conditions were bad,” McMasters said. “We had a lot of bad snaps. At the end of the day, we got the win.”
The Wildcats still got one big play in when McMasters found Montgomery in the middle of the field and the big receiver cut to the left sideline and dodged two tacklers on his 68-yard scoring play. Cain’s PAT was partially blocked and banged off the left upright but Walker’s lead was insurmountable at that point.
Broadmoor (1-1) got its only score on the second possession when Jones lofted a 44-yard TD strike to Dimarco Nobles, who had gotten behind RJ Dickson for the score.
Thomas said he isn’t sure what the future holds but that he will continue preparing “business as usual” as the Wildcats face Slidell in their home opener Friday.
“I’m sure it affected them at sometimes, but it we have resilient kids,” he said. “They can fight through things. We played hard and smart.”