WALKER - The defensive assignment for Denham Springs High against Livingston Parish rival Walker was simple: stop Carlton Perkins, the state’s top rusher.
The Yellow Jackets did just that and emerged a 28-6 winner in District 4-5A action Friday night.
Perkins, who entered the game with 1,643 yards, was held to 94 yards and one touchdown on 26 attempts. DSHS (6-3, 3-1) limited the Wildcats to 89 net yards with several tackles-for-loss.
With the win, Denham Springs can capture the district title when it plays Zachary (8-2, 3-1) at home next week.
DSHS Coach Dru Nettles said even though the Yellow Jackets are essentially assured a spot in the post-season playoffs, he’ll work hard this week.
“This makes the fourth straight year we’ll be in the playoffs and that’s never been done at Denham Springs,” he said. “We’ll play a very good Zachary team and that’s the position we want to be in. We look forward to the challenge.”
Nettles gave his defense high marks for containing Perkins.
“He’s an elusive guy,” Nettles said. “He had a couple of plays where he broke loose, but other than that our defense did a great job.”
“You know he’s going to get it, but they run a lot of schemes to get him the ball and you have to prepare.”
Anthony Bracy led the rushing effort for Denham with 66 yards and two TDs on 16 attempts. Kyle Cedotal passed for 147 yards and one interception on 10-of-19 passing. His favorite target was Sterling Suggs, who had three receptions for 89 yards.
Suggs gave the Yellow Jacket offense a passing grade.
“It wasn’t our best performance, but we felt like we did what we had to do to win,” Suggs said. “Our goal was no punts and no three-and-outs. And that’s what we did.”
Though Walker (3-6, 1-3) grabbed two turnovers from Denham, the Wildcats were hurt by several miscues in the second half. Perkins broke free for a 70-yard touchdown run in the third period. The play was called back by a holding penalty.
Walker coach Dwayne Severio said the TD could have put the Wildcats in contention.
“Something like that just takes the wind out of your sails,” Severio said. “We had some chances for some big plays but we just weren’t very clean up front. It’s been an up and down year for us. We just have to play this last game and see where we stand.”
Walker also came up short on a potential scoring drive late in the second quarter. The Wildcats got to the DSHS 3 in 10 plays but were stopped short when quarterback Tyler Lockhart completed a pass to Stephen Zoll, who was shoved out of bound at the 1.
Walker surprised the Yellow Jackets with a quick strike in the first quarter.
The snap sailed over the head of Denham’s punter, Suggs, who ran back into his own end zone to retrieve the ball. Suggs ran out to the DSHS 12. Perkins scored on the next play.
Perkins took the shotgun snap and zipped wide around the right side to put the Wildcats on the scoreboard first. His run for the 2-point conversion came up short, however.
Denham wasted little time answering, rolling 58 yards on eight plays on the ensuing possession. Cedotal rambled 24 yards through the heart of the Wildcat defense to set up a 2-yard run by junior Justin Martin. David McKey’s kick gave the Jackets a 7-6 lead they never relinquished.
The Yellow Jackets struck again on their next possession, thanks in part to Walker’s 15-yard punt that set up the guests at the WHS 35. The Jackets took four plays to travel the distance, expanding their lead with an 8-yard run by Bracy.
Denham widened the gap by scoring on its next possession. Cedotal connected on a 28-yard pass to Suggs to spark the drive. Bracy scored seven plays later on a 1-yard dive.