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Taking part in a signing day ceremony at Walker High School are, from left, running back Tristan Taylor, linebacker Josh Cook and offensive tackle Taylor Granger.

ADVOCATE PHOTO BY SCOTT HOTARD

Green and yellow balloons adorned the new Walker High cafeteria as linebacker Josh Cook, running back Tristan Taylor and offensive lineman Taylor Granger celebrated National Signing Day by signing letters of intent with their future schools.

Cook signed with Southeastern Louisiana University, Taylor with East Texas Baptist and Granger with Pearl River (Mississippi) Community College.

All told, Livingston Parish saw 11 football players sign last Wednesday.

Walker coach Lester Ricard looked back on the journey of his trio of signees as he addressed a crowd of their classmates and family members in the cafeteria.

Walker went 0-10 when these seniors were freshmen. Back-to-back playoff appearances have the Wildcats back on track.

"They figured out a way to pull this program out of the rubble," Ricard said.

Taylor was a mainstay for Walker as an offensive playmaker the past three seasons. Granger was a team leader for the Wildcats and their most dependable blocker.

Cook made so many tackles in the middle of the Walker defense it was hard for the coaches to keep count. He finished with 134 in 2017 after making 110 as a junior.

A two-sport athlete, Cook also has played a key role for Walker basketball the past three seasons, often taking care of selfless responsibilities (securing loose balls, setting screens for teammates) that don't show up in the box score.

He has accomplished this despite a birth defect that left him without three fingers on his right hand. Cook bench presses 330 pounds and power cleans 315, Ricard said.

"I always told him, 'People will accept it (the birth defect) the way you accept it,'" said Eric Cook, Josh's father. "He has to work a little harder than everybody else, but he's never made excuses or felt sorry for himself. A lot of people never even notice."

Ricard said three or four more Walker seniors may sign at a later date.

Cook was one of two players from Livingston Parish to join new Southeastern coach Frank Scelfo's first signing class.

Live Oak kicker/punter Nathan Holliday signed with the Lions as well, choosing the same school where Live Oak coach Brett Beard finished his college career.

The Live Oak signing ceremony also included Jacobey Lee as one of the area's top centers picked Nicholls State.

Holliday earned All-District 4-5A honors as a junior and played in the Red Stick Bowl following his senior season. He beat Denham with a 30-yard field goal as a sophomore. Lee was 4-5A's first-team all-district center after paving the way for Live Oak's bruising running game. He also played in the Red Stick Bowl.

Lee will join a Nicholls program coming off its first FCS playoff appearance in 12 years.

At Denham Springs, coach Bill Conides put a bow on his first season as coach by watching six seniors sign.

Offensive lineman Zach Harris chose Brown, linebacker Elijah Tolliver picked Louisiana College, and defensive back Justin Anderson and defensive lineman Kaleb Pipes both chose Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College. Running back Tyre Golmond is headed to Garden City (Kansas) Community College and defensive back Tyrone Riley to Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.

Golmond became Denham's career rushing leader in the third game of his senior season. He started for the Yellow Jackets all four years.

Harris, Anderson and Pipes joined Golmond on the Red Stick Bowl roster following the 2017 season.

Maher signs with LSU

Denham Springs soccer standout Makenzie Maher signed with LSU last Wednesday as part of coach Brian Lee's eight-player signing class.

Maher, who committed to the Tigers nearly a year ago, was one of four players from Louisiana in the class.

“In modern college athletics, every flagship state school is dependent on their in-state talent base and we are fortunate to be in a window for 2018 and 2019 where we have multiple Louisiana prospects athletically capable of competing in the SEC,” Lee said in a Signing Day news release. “All four of our in-state signees are fast, hard-working kids that have a chance to contribute early on."

Maher emerged as a Division I prospect despite missing nearly all of her junior season with a badly sprained ankle. Her senior year, she returned to help the Yellow Jackets advance into the second round of the LHSAA playoffs.

In addition, Maher competes for the Baton Rouge Soccer Club, and last summer helped lead the organization's U18 team to a berth in the regional tournament.

She and fellow LSU signee Meghan Johnson played together for the Louisiana Olympic Development Program in 2016 and 2017 as regional pool players.

Denham boys return to quarters

The Denham Springs boys soccer team went on the road to defeat Alexandria 2-1 in a second-round playoff match last week.

The victory advanced Denham to the Division I quarterfinals, allowing the Yellow Jackets to match their 2015 playoff run.

Denham was scheduled to play No. 15 seed Jesuit at home on Tuesday. Jesuit spoiled a possible rematch for the Yellow Jackets with district rival Catholic by ousting the second-seeded Bears in the second round.

In other playoff action, No. 18 seed Live Oak fell to No. 2 seed Beau Chene 4-1 after knocking off No 15 seed Ben Franklin in Division II's first round.

Scott Hotard covers sports for The Livingston-Tangipahoa Advocate. He can be contacted at shotard44@gmail.com or livingston@theadvocate.com.