After losing the district championship in the penultimate match of the season to Catholic High last year, the Denham Springs boys’ soccer team is out to take the next step forward and win the District 3-I crown.
The district begins on Jan. 8, when Denham Springs hosts McKinley, while Walker travels to Zachary.
The third-ranked Yellow Jackets (11-2-1) and sixth-ranked Bears (8-2-2) are two of the favorites in the top-heavy district, but Baton Rouge High (9-2-2) has shown improvement this year and has received votes in the statewide rankings.
DSHS closed out December with a 1-1 draw against St. Paul’s in the Wolves’ tournament, a game the Yellow Jackets led 1-0 in the second half on Will Chevalier’s goal.
Coach Chris Thorne has previously indicated this year’s team being the best he’s fielded, and the results thus far have backed up such a claim.
“We finished 2018 pretty beat up,” Thorne said. “(We) lost goalkeeper Brandon Lovett for the season to a knee injury and had multiple others with sprains, concussions, etc. (It) Challenged our depth, but the boys have been resilient in adapting to what’s been asked of them…(we) need to continue to get better each game, tighten up some of our weaknesses, further develop depth in a couple of positions and make sure we are always the hardest working, most relentless team on the pitch.”
For Walker, the calendar flipping to 2019 is a welcome sight. The Wildcats went 3-7 through the first two months of the season and haven’t played since Dec. 17.
The idle time has allowed the Wildcats, who were beset by numerous injuries, to recover and return for the start of district play.
Walker plays four of its six remaining games in less than a week, starting on Jan. 11th against Baton Rouge.
Lady Cats, Lady Jackets part of competitive girls league
Following a wet holiday break, the Walker and Denham Springs girls’ soccer team shift their focus to the rapidly approaching District 3-I part of the season.
League play got under way Jan. 4 when Walker hosted Zachary. Denham Springs opens at Zachary on Jan. 7.
District 3-I looks to be one of the more competitive districts in the state with three teams (St. Joseph’s Academy, No. 6, Baton Rouge High No. 12, and Walker, No. 14) all within the Top 15 in the state’s power rankings.
Denham (4-6-3) and Zachary (7-5-1) are ranked 24th and 31st, respectively.
After a successful transition year in his first season back at the school, Walker coach Mike Lockhart has the Lady Cats pointed in the right direction and poised to leave their mark in a stacked district.
“We have a pretty hard-nosed two week stretch here,” Lockhart said. “St. Amant, Zachary. St. Joseph’s, Baton Rouge, then Denham. We will have our hands full.”
One variable that has Lockhart optimistic is the improved health of his team that enjoyed a break since Dec. 21 before falling 4-0 at St. Amant on Wednesday.
“We need all of our pieces, that’s for sure,” Lockhart said. “But the good news is that everybody is healthy now. We’re starting to put some things together. It’s going to be a pivotal two weeks for us, no doubt about it.”
Denham Springs has drawn praise from first-year coach Layci Patterson for its improved chemistry and resolve, as well as receptiveness to being coached.
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