Jacobi Scott waited patiently for his turn to play quarterback. Josh Cook fostered the patience and knowledge needed to move to another position, linebacker.
Consider those circumstances separately and it wouldn’t mean much. The play of Scott and Cook provide the cornerstones of what is already Walker's best Class 5A season.
How far can the Wildcats (6-0, 1-0) go? That’s a question Scott and Cook don’t dodge. They’re prepared to take on each challenge, including hosting District 4-5A and Livingston Parish rival Live Oak (4-2, 1-0). The teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday.
“A lot of people thought that after last year we’d go back to being the old Walker,” Cook said. “It’s not like that any more. There’s a different attitude. We know there are very good teams in our district, but we believe we can win.”
The Wildcats of second-year coach Brandon Lawley entered the season with 17 starters returning from a team that finished 5-5, snapping an 18-game losing streak by starting the season 5-0.
But going 0-5 in 4-5A a year ago left unanswered questions, especially since the team’s top two players, quarterback Terry Bozeman (Arkansas-Monticello) and linebacker Kyle Nevels (Louisiana-Monroe), graduated.
“I know what people are thinking,” Lawley said. “They thought Walker was all Terry Bozeman and Kyle Nevels and without them we couldn’t be as good. But Jacobi waited his turn. There’s no problem with him being nervous or tentative. The bigger the stage, the more calm he is.
“Kyle was one of those guys who made big hits you remember. That’s not Josh’s game. He is a guy who is always in position to make plays.”
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Scott also is the starting point guard on the Walker basketball team. Though he waited his turn to play, the senior has a football pedigree.
Scott’s offseason quarterbacks coach is former Southern University star Eric Randall, now the head coach at Baker . Scott’s father, Parviz, was a wide receiver and a teammate of Randall. He also worked out with Lindsey Scott Sr., another former teammate and the father of former Zachary quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr., now of LSU.
Through six games, Scott has completed 85 of 142 passes for 1,538 yards and 17 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He passed for 113 yards in last week's 4-5A win over Central.
“Eric Randall is my dad’s best friend,” Scott said. “He’s helped me a lot when it comes to making the right reads and improving how I throw the ball. Terry (Bozeman) helped me, too. He would always tell me things about what he saw and what his reads were. And I’d tell him what I saw.”
Scott made a cameo appearance for the Wildcats last year. He led one scoring drive in a loss to Denham Springs. Cook (6-0, 200) played safety as a sophomore and a junior. He put on 20 pounds of muscle in order to take over Nevels’ linebacker role in a 4-3 alignment.
“I played linebacker all through middle school and my first year here,” Cook said. “Defensive back was a position I had to learn. This feels natural. I feel at home.”
Cook has 51 tackles and 3 sacks in six games. He understands the challenge the Wildcats face this week. Live Oak is in its first season of running the midline veer attack and has won three straight. An aggressive LOHS defense provides a key test for Scott and the Walker offense.
“Our offense doesn’t rely on just one or two players, and I like that,” Scott said. “We have a running back in Tristan (Taylor) and then four or five different receivers. If it’s not Terrell (Warner), it could be Darius (Hampton), Jalen (Hills) or two or three other guys. It doesn’t matter. They can all make plays.”
The players and Lawley don’t display the attitude of a typical 6-0 team. Walker has already clinched the school’s first winning season on the Class 5A level, but an elusive playoff berth is the coveted goal.
“This is a tough district,” Lawley said. “There is no doubt people are expecting more this year from us. I’m glad we have these guys to help lead us.”