br.denhamstamantsoccer.020917 HS 340.JPG (copy)

Denham Springs' Cameron Hamby (10) controls the ball as teammate Collin Turner (12) looks on between St. Amant defenders Caleb Cretini (8) and Matthew Parker during a February playoff game at The Pit in St. Amant.

Denham soccer turns to defensive strategy

In recent years, Denham Springs boys soccer coach Chris Thorne may have described his team's philosophy as offense-based.

That's because the Yellow Jackets were riding the coattails of high-scoring strikers Kade Murry and Camden Hilliard, who finished their high school careers in 2016 with more than 150 combined goals.

Nowadays, Denham relies on a more deliberate, methodical approach that puts a premium on getting defensive stops.

There was good news for the Yellow Jackets on that front over the weekend as Thorne's team returned from the Louisiana Showcase in Lake Charles without surrendering a single score in its four matches there.

Denham followed a scoreless tie against Lafayette High in its opening match of the tournament with three straight shutout wins against Beaumont (Texas) Kelly, Acadiana and University.

For the season, the Yellow Jackets improved to 10-3-2 by going 3-0-1 in Lake Charles.

"We've really started gelling defensively," Thorne said. "Not giving up a goal in this tournament was big for us."

Live Oak (4-6-3) also participated in the tournament, losing to Acadiana and Byrd by one goal apiece and Lafayette High by two.

Finding its way defensively has helped Denham reverse course since starting the season with back-to-back losses. A change in formation along with a couple of personnel moves have been key.

However, the Yellow Jackets will be without top defender Seth Bridges for the next 6-8 weeks after the junior suffered a collarbone injury in the U-High game.

Not that the team's approach will change.

Thorne said being methodical and playing strong defense is what best suits the talents of his roster.

"We will always take the players we have and try to find the approach that's best for our personnel, and this year we're a team that's midfielder-heavy," Thorne said. "We have to be a little bit more deliberate in our attack and wait to find a mistake."

Senior midfielder Cameron Hamby and senior defender Cameron Restivo are veteran players and among the team's emotional leaders.

On the back end, goalkeepers Brandon Lovett and Jose Ortega have formed a tandem at the net and give Thorne the ability to play matchups with the position.

Junior forward Collin Turner entered the week with a team-leading 12 goals to go with two assists.

Denham was set to host St. Amant on Wednesday in a rematch of a St. Amant victory last year in the second round of the playoffs before playing Northshore at home Friday in its final match before the holidays.

Golmond leads Red Stick participants

Denham Springs running back Tyre Golmond reached the end zone Saturday for the Rattlers in the annual Red Stick Bowl as the senior suited up for his final high-school game.

Golmond scored on a 2-yard run against the Black Knights in the second of six overtimes after the Rattlers had rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit. The Black Knights eventually prevailed 44-38 on a 10-yard scamper by Donaldsonville quarterback Jaylin Williams.

Golmond was one of 13 players from Livingston Parish listed on the Rattlers roster in the Baton Rouge-area all-star game.

Other Yellow Jackets to earn a spot were defensive back Justin Anderson, defensive lineman Kaleb Pipes and offensive lineman Zach Harris. They were joined by defensive back Rayshion Brumfield, linebacker Khalil Smith, offensive lineman Jacobey Lee and kicker Nathan Holliday from Live Oak and wide receiver Qae Clark, linebacker Josh Cook and offensive lineman Taylor Granger from Walker.

Running back Kamryn Mayers and offensive lineman Jordan Howze represented Albany in the game.

Also, Denham Springs defensive line coach Joey Jarreau was part of the Rattlers coaching staff.

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