LSUODYSSEY.COM WOULD LIKE TO WISH A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JAMIE HOWARD
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Leaving the blood & sweat stained turf of Yockey Bernard Field, dipping his head slightly, disappointment clouding his face, the #1 ranked QB in America sauntered off the high school football gridiron for one final time, and it wasn't the way he'd envisioned.
Unexpectedly enduring a rare defeat at the semifinal stage, after a season where STM's offense scored at least 35 points on 10 different occasions, 6 games of 41+ points and only one appearance scoring less than 21, Walker Howard's St Thomas More club ran into a buzz-saw E.D White defense during last Friday's semifinal match-up, resulting in a major upset.
Ending STM's 10 game postseason winning streak & a rare chance to hoist 3 titles in a row, E.D White's defense limited the two-time defending champions' juggernaut offense to just 21 points & 2 crucial turnovers, while blocking 1 of Walker Howard's 4 punts.
E.D White produced the upset of 2021 in Louisiana high school football, refusing to give an inch throughout a slugfest which was won by raging defiance. Adding to the Cardinals' energy and playmaking, a limping Walker Howard greatly helped E.D White's cause.
After a fumble where Walker sustained a new fracture to his leg (as he recovered the ball), St Thomas More's charismatic leader played the rest of the night carrying a noticeable limp.
Having just returned from an earlier fractured fibula far sooner than expected, it was an early worrying sign when a defender sacked Walker brutally, setting up a night full of pressure; Then, each snap seemed to get progressively errant until one snap was so scattershot it bounced off Walker's shin, only just recovered by the LSU commit, forcing the #1 quarterback to the ground.
Despite the first quarter troubles, Howard remained poised throughout the night, rifling 3 touchdown passes, fronted by a pair to RB Charlie Peyton. Offering much more than a few screens, Walker's mature display would be headlined by an all-world moment which captured his powers for everyone to witness:
Following a wayward pass where E.D White's student section began chanting "overrated" at the #1 ranked QB, Howard's next snap would silence the crowd in their place.
Pressured up the middle, Walker spun away from the near sack, reset his feet, and launched a long ball deep down the sidelines with pinpoint accuracy, landing the pass directly into the chest and arms of Hayes Moncla, stepping into the end zone as STM regained the lead.
Another cold hearted rhapsody courtesy of Kid Nasty's blistering competitive drive....answered with nothing but deafening silence from the E.D White bleachers...
While STM's passing game gained confidence in moments, they couldn't dominate E.D White's secondary over 4 quarters; plus, a single Cardinal defender, Ethan Lee, intercepted Howard twice, taking his final INT back for a game-sealing touchdown, cashing in the score which finally dusted off a bloodbath semifinal.
Over 2021, STM buried opponents due to quick, early leads, torching their last two postseason opponents by a combined score of 49-14 after the first quarter alone; Against E.D White, St Thomas More suffered through a 1st quarter shutout for the first time since the Neville game.
Unable to secure or build upon an early lead, the Cougars were dragged into a vicious street fight, the semifinal now becoming an "anyone's game" scenario....
At the end of a long, physical night, the chips didn't fall St Thomas More's way, Coach Hightower's team coming painfully close, but it was a combination of E.D White's ground attack, 2 forced turnovers, and their group tackling game-plan against STM's short passing / yards after catch M.O which led to the Cougars' undoing.
Regardless of defeat, anyone who witnessed Howard's performance understood what a special talisman he is:
In the face of an agonizing loss, Howard's final high school game will forever be defined by his out of this world touchdown to Moncla or the inspiring, gritty images of LSU's 5 star commit risking further injury to chase down Ethan Lee's INT return, hobbling on one leg by the time he reached the end zone.....not far behind Lee;
The semifinal defeat and indeed his entire senior season, showcased Walker Howard's ability to fight through adversity, one play, one game, one day at a time.
We've already seen how the young man reacted to victory, two consecutive state titles, a 5 star rating, named a high school All American....but how would he respond to defeat?
The answer to that question was already out there before Howard ever received a starting snap:
The son of iconic LSU QB Jamie Howard, a man who battled through rough times under center, eventually rising above, Walker has been blessed with a (purple &) gold standard example for a father:
Jamie endured the worst moment of his career against Auburn in 1994, yet Walker's father never hid from the raging criticism, he didn't duck from the responsibility and trials of being LSU's starting quarterback. In fact, Howard The Elder led the Tigers to a major revenge victory vs Auburn that next season, with Jamie carried off the field by his loving teammates.
Walker learned everything he knows from his father, especially how to handle overwhelming tragedy, incredible adversity, how to lean on each other for help.....how to dig deepest when everything stacks against you.
When they say you can't do it...how do you respond?
During Howard's 2021 senior campaign, STM dropped 5 games, he fractured his fibula, missed 4 Friday nights & still sent Coach Hightower's squad within reach of a 3rd consecutive state title.
To put 2021's 8-5 record into perspective, the Cougars lost just 4 games over Howard's previous three years.
Thanks to how Walker and all the St Thomas More players were raised, they fought like hell against the tide and produced yet another stunning season in Lafayette.
Though Walker Howard's career came to an end without a third state championship ring, what would've been his second as a starter, the 2022 LSU commit & #1 overall QB has left an indelible mark upon the city of Lafayette, the state of Louisiana, and the way the quarterback position will be played nationally for years to come.
IT'S NOT HOW YOU FALL DOWN....IT'S HOW YOU GET UP
2021 FINAL STATS
3 RUSH TDs
63% Completion Rating
11 Rushing TDs
PASSING YARDS PER GAME AVG: 356.1
PASSING TDs PER GAME AVG: 3.9
-Special Thanks to Christopher Gossen for stats help & Being Incredible to us!
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings inc
ALL OF OUR MAIN WALKER PROFILES:
SHOUTOUTS: The Howard & Bech families, The Gossens: Christopher & his father Greg. But of course, we must pay tribute to....ALL OF LAFAYETTE!!
HAPPY 🎂 JAMIE!