Samuel emerging as one of the top backs in the area
When it came to the running-back position in Ascension Parish, there were two players that were on everyone’s watch-lists heading into 2021.
All eyes were on senior All-State running back Dylan Sampson of Dutchtown and All-State junior running back Khai Prean of Ascension Catholic.
Those two highly-recruited athletes have certainly lived up to the preseason hype, but now they have company. Another parish running back has emerged as one of the best players in the area this season.
That running back is East Ascension’s Walter Samuel. Samuel made a huge statement last Friday night in the Spartans’ 35-20 victory over parish and district rival Dutchtown.
With Sampson being less than 100 percent for the Griffins, it was Samuel who stole the show on the ground. He chewed up 171 yards and four touchdowns on just 11 carries.
It was just the latest big game he’s had in 2021.
“It was the third week in a row that he ran for over 100 yards,” East Ascension head coach Darnell Lee said. “He’s really starting to hit it as a runner. We’re running it at different places than we did last year. We’re not doing as much pulling with our linemen this season. We’re getting our big guys downhill, and he’s getting better at reading it. He just explodes in those creases.”
Samuel broke through last season for East Ascension. He went from being an overlooked occupant of the Spartans’ backfield to finishing the year as a first-team All-District 5-5A running back.
During the spring, Coach Lee saw Samuel take a step forward.
“Walter Samuel is special. He’s around 205 right now, and he’s probably the fastest person on the team,” Lee said. “He can catch the ball out of the backfield, and we’ve been running some empty-formation plays with him.”
And just as Lee thought he would, Samuel has only gotten better in 2021.
He has been able to provide the best of both worlds for East Ascension. He can use his power to break tackles and pick up tough yardage, or he can run away from defenders and score from anywhere on the field.
In his big game against Dutchtown, Samuel had touchdown runs of 42 and 65 yards.
“He’s really been showing his speed. Any time you can have a guy that runs with the power that he runs with, the vision and the speed, it makes you a very happy play-caller,” Lee said.
Despite East Ascension only playing five games thus far, Samuel has still managed to be one of the top statistical leaders in the area at running back.
He has rushed for just under 600 yards and seven touchdowns. Samuel is also averaging nearly eight yards per carry.
And those stats have come against what has been the toughest schedule of any parish team.
East Ascension has faced a brutal slate of games against Scotlandville, Brother Martin, Walker, Catholic and Dutchtown. Catholic is ranked No. 1 in the state, and they’re currently ranked 19th nationally by MaxPreps.
But the emergence of Jacorey Johnson has also helped Samuel. Johnson has been a strong compliment to Samuel in the backfield. His strong play has allowed Samuel to stay fresh.
In the Spartans’ win over Dutchtown, Johnson rushed for 100 yards and a score.
East Ascension is now 2-3 overall and set to face 2-3 Woodlawn this Friday night.