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West St. John coach Walters recognized by New Orleans Saints

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  • Feature Story
  • Game Preview
  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • October 24, 2017 - 6:12pm

Brandon Walters (left) watches his West St. John squad warm up at the start of practice Tuesday afternoon. The Rams host KIPP-Booker T. Washington on Thursday night.

Brandon Walters and his West St. John Rams were flying under the radar until Tuesday afternoon.

Despite sporting the top power rating in Class 1A for much of the season, it took until about seven weeks into the season for West St. John to crack the Top 10 in the polls.

Currently ranked ninth, the 6-2 Rams received some recognition during Tuesday’s workout in preparation for KIPP-Booker T. Washington on Thursday night from the New Orleans Saints organization.

“On behalf of the New Orleans Saints and our sponsor, TruMoo, we recognize coaches in our community for doing an outstanding job, not just on the field, but off the field as well. Coach Walters is one of those guys who excels in displaying exceptional character throughout the community so we just wanted to give some recognition to him,” said Chris Payton, Youth Program Coordinator for the New Orleans Saints.

Along with recognition for Walters’ efforts, West St. John was awarded $1,000 and given some equipment such as football cleats. The players also were treated to chocolate milk.

“It was really nice,” Walters said. “We are getting some much-needed equipment. It’s great to be recognized and get a little recognition. It’s about the kids. It’s about how well West St. John is doing. For those guys to get the accolades, that’s the most important thing to me.”

The award was presented on the football field Tuesday afternoon as the Rams were preparing for their non-district game against KIPP-Booker T. Washington.

When West St. John’s schedule was originally released, the Rams were slated to play J.S. Clark in Week 9 to fill in WSJ’s bye week in District 8-1A play. Clark announced it would not field a football team in 2017, leaving the Rams scrambling to find an opponent.

“When Clark indicated they weren’t going to play, looking down the line it’s hard to get a game for Week 9. We called around and got some maybes, mights and definite no’s. We were able to set up one with KIPP-Booker T. Washington,” said Walters.

KIPP-Booker T. Washington is in its second year of existence and is just starting up a football program. The Lions are playing mostly a junior varsity-type schedule and Thursday’s game will not count toward giving the Rams any additional power points.

The charter school is at the site of the old Booker T. Washington that closed down just before the advent of Hurricane Katrina. The Lions are coached by Wayne Reese Jr., the son of legendary New Orleans high school coach Wayne Reese, Sr.

Reese and Walters were college teammates at Grambling State.

“We both played at Grambling State together so I thought it would be a good gesture, being that they were one of the teams that did say yes to us. I was glad to have the opportunity to do it. It’s not for points or anything like that; we just wanted to play football,” Walters said.

Filling the date with KIPP-Booker T. Washington was important to Walters on another level. Walters had been a coach at Clark before moving to West St. John.

“It’s tough to see football programs leave because that’s an opportunity the kids don’t have. You take away opportunities for those young men and they get off into all types of other things,” Walters said.

Although the game with KIPP-Booker T. Washington may not mean a great deal in the grand scheme of things, Walters said he knows what to expect from his former teammate.

“I know Wayne Reese and he likes to open up the playbook and see what he can do. We will be ready for them. It’s a game where you definitely want to keep your kids focused and grounded,” the West St. John coach said.

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.