Imagine a scenario in which the Denham Springs High football team entered Friday night’s regular-season finale at Scotlandville with an 8-1 mark overall and a chance to win the outright District 4-5A championship.
That was nearly a reality.
The Yellow Jackets can look back at three tight 4-5A losses decided by five combined points as the reason they are focused this week on finishing the regular season above .500, instead of on something much more.
“I think it’s hard for us to get beyond that, but it is what it is,” Denham coach Dru Nettles said after a 19-7 victory over Walker on Senior Night gave the Yellow Jackets their first district win. “The talent and the team is here. If we can put it together and get healthy and go battle, we’ll go from there and give it a shot.”
Although the narrow losses removed Denham from contention in the 4-5A title chase, the Yellow Jackets (5-4, 1-3) can still play for their ultimate goal of making a deep push in the Class 5A playoffs.
Nettles was confident that Denham had clinched a playoff spot with Friday’s win and that the outcome of the Scotlandville game would only help determine where the team is seeded.
Last year, the Yellow Jackets were a 19th seed when they lost in the second round.
Denham would have a much better starting point this year had the Yellow Jackets been on the right side of losses to Live Oak and Zachary by two points each and to Central by one.
But it’s where you finish that matters.
Consider that Acadiana went 6-4 in the regular season last year before stringing together five wins in the playoffs to win the 5A title.
“Our goal is to move forward and get better next week and see how far it can take us,” Nettles said. “We’re on the final stretch of the ride. We’ll see where it goes.”
Denham got back on the winning track against Walker but suffered a setback when senior quarterback Torez Kinchen left the game in the first half because of an injury to his nonthrowing shoulder.
Nettles said Monday that Kinchen would be “day-to-day” moving forward.
Running back Tyre Golmond helped offset the quarterback’s absence Friday by rushing for a season-high 215 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries as sophomore Cameron Feucht filled in behind center.
“We’ve just got to step up,” Golmond said.
Injuries happen all over — in the NFL, everywhere. You just have to handle it.”
The possibility remains that all three Livingston Parish teams in 4-5A could extend their seasons with playoff appearances.
Live Oak (5-4) travels to face Central in its regular-season finale with a chance to finish 3-2 in the league. Walker (5-4) needs an upset of Zachary on Friday at home to avoid going winless in the district.
Live Oak High sweeps parish cross-country
The Live Oak boys and girls cross-country teams swept the Livingston Parish cross-country meet held Thursday at Sidney Hutchinson Park.
The Live Oak boys had a team score of 37 points with an average of 18 minutes, 21 seconds per runner to finish ahead of second-place Denham Springs (45 points) and third-place Walker (56). The girls ran the 3-mile course in an average of 24:22 and had 43 points as a team, outdistancing Denham (57 points) and Albany (62).
Denham Springs senior Thomas Kelton won the boys race in 16:08.75 with teammate Christian Mallet second at 16:38.96. Live Oak’s Justin Peters (17:29.91) was third, followed by teammates Landon Mears (17:47.75) and Josh Danna (18:06.75) in fourth and fifth, respectively.
On the girls side, Angela McKay, of Albany, took top honors with a time of 22:05.33. Ashlynn Jerome (22:14.10), of Denham, and Emily Thomas (23:30.08), of Holden, rounded out the top three with Holden’s Asia Sierra (23:32.66) finishing fourth and Paige Noble (23:44.83), of Live Oak, placing fifth.
Live Oak coach Bobbi Jo Guerin, who took over the program at her alma mater in 2013, saw the results from the parish meet as an indication of how far the Eagles have come.
“This was not our best race on average, but it was our turn to conquer this title,” she said.
In the junior high division of the parish meet, Denham Springs Junior High swept the boys and girls competitions with North Corbin’s teams finishing second.
Wayne Hubert, of Albany Middle, won the 2-mile boys race in 12:22.77. Denham Springs Junior’s Bayli Niccolini was the girls winner at 14:30.02.
Goodrich, Pendarvis in top three
Two Livingston Parish swimmers, Dylan Goodrich, of Denham Springs, and Walker’s Shane Pendarvis, garnered third-place finishes at Sunday’s finals at the Capital City Swim League Championships held at the Crawfish Aquatics pool.
Goodrich was third in the 200 individual medley in 2:05:22, and the 500 freestyle in 4:59.31.
Pendarvis was third in the 100-yard backstroke in 57.99 seconds after swimming the top qualifying time of 58.13 on Saturday despite not being seeded among the leaders.
In the team competition, the Denham boys finished seventh with 127 points while the girls placed 16th with 30 points, and the Walker boys were 11th with 86 points with the girls finishing 14th with 36 points.
Catholic High won the boys title with 631 points. St. Joseph’s was the girls champion with 553.50 points.
Albany, Springfield look for wins
Albany and Springfield each close the regular season in football Friday looking to rebound from recent losing streaks.
Albany (5-4) has lost three straight since starting District 7-3A play and must win at Amite on Friday to avoid an 0-4 finish in the district. The Hornets lost to Bogalusa 42-20 last week.
Springfield (1-8) completed 9-2A with a 14-7 loss to Northlake Christian and has now lost six straight. The Bulldogs hit the road to face Bogue Chitto, in Mississippi, in their finale.
Amite (4-5) finished as the Class 3A state runner-up last season, but the Warriors managed only one win in five tries during October and are just 1-2 in district play.
Editor’s Note: The Denham Springs vs. Scotlandville game has been moved to 7 p.m. Thursday.