The magical victory tour for the Walker High boys basketball team continued last Tuesday as the Wildcats were honored during a banquet at Club Outreach in Walker attended by LSU coach Will Wade.
Each of the 11 players on hand were called to the front of the room by Walker coach Anthony Schiro in what was the latest in a line of events to celebrate the Wildcats.
Walker came from behind to defeat defending state champion Landry-Walker in the Class 5A title game earlier this year, completing a 33-4 season and winning state for the first time. The Wildcats had not advanced as far as the semifinals in 56 years.
Wade said he was impressed with the community support at the championship game. "The whole town was there. You got a sense of how much it meant to everybody."
Wade admitted to leaving the game early and learning of the Walker win only through text messages with a friend in the coaching industry. He said he was surprised to learn the Wildcats had rallied.
In response, Schiro made his own confession regarding the biggest win in program history.
"With about three minutes to go in that game, I was trying to think of what my speech I was going to be to my players when we came home as the state runner-up," Schiro said with a laugh.
The manner in which Walker won state — overcoming a late eight-point deficit to win in overtime — has only enhanced the team's hero status.
One stop on Walker's victory tour was the State Capitol, where the Wildcats were recognized by the Louisiana House of Representatives and the Louisiana State Senate.
The Walker City Council and Livingston Parish Council have also recognized the team.
"It's been amazing," Schiro said. "Just being at the game itself, the Burton Coliseum was packed with Walker people. It was just like Walker had moved over there. I never imagined it being the way it is now, just the whirlwind it's been for two months. We knew it was a big deal, but we didn't know it would be this big of a deal. It's humbling. You've got to be thankful and have gratitude for it."
The Wildcats gathered inside the school's cafeteria Thursday to receive their state championship rings.
They would learn Monday night at the Manship Theater if they had been selected as The Advocate's Boys Team of the Year during the annual Star of Stars Banquet. West Feliciana and University football were the other two finalists.
Yellow Jackets spring game
Denham Springs coach Bill Conides said his team's victories over Warren Easton and Madison Prep in Friday's spring game were no surprise to the players and coaches, merely providing validation that the Yellow Jackets are on the right track.
Denham won 14-6 against Warren Easton and 7-0 against Madison Prep while dodging rain and lightning delays.
"We thought going into the spring game that we were a better football team than the one that ended the season last year," Conides said. "What happened (Friday) just reinforced that feeling."
One of the big stories coming out of the spring appears to be the emergence of junior Luke Lunsford as a blossoming college prospect.
Lunsford, who received his first scholarship offer from Alabama-Birmingham early in the spring, threw for nearly 200 yards and completed three touchdown passes during the spring game.
Conides said the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Lunsford has leadership qualities to match his physical attributes.
"I've been getting calls about him (from college coaches) ever since the spring game ended," Conides said. "He is blowing up."
Lunsford has a pair of playmakers at wide receiver in DJ Williams and Kaleb Drummer, who combined to haul in the quarterback's three touchdown passes. Linebacker Brennan LeBlanc returns as a senior to lead the defense.
Conides said the senior class is setting the tone as the Yellow Jackets enter Year 2 under their new coach.
"It has everything to do with them buying into our ideology and embracing our culture," Conides said. "Everything that is important inside the locker room is better this year."
PARDS tennis camp
Denham Springs High tennis coach Bob McMurray will hold his annual PARDS tennis camp for beginners every Saturday in July from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the North Park tennis courts.
The cost of the camp is $10 covering all five sessions July 7-28.
The camp is designed for first-time players ages 8-14 and focuses on the basics of the game.
Visit North Park at the corner of Eden Church and Lockhart roads to register.