Bracket: FCS playoffs
The best way to describe Weyanoke, La., is sparsely populated. Located in the southeast corner of the state, the U.S. Census Bureau doesn't recognize it as a city. Approximately 180 people, a blip on the radar, live along State Highway 66 in West Feliciana Parish.
“So many people don't make it out,” said Wallace Scott. “If you don't have your mind right, it’s very hard (to get out). My parents said, ‘You can do so much more than the people around you. You need to set yourself apart from everyone else.’”
Wallace Sr. and Candace Scott are quite satisfied their son “made it out.” He’s a senior at McNeese State and a member of the Cowboys football team that’s playing Saturday in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
Deeply invested in his well-being and future, Scott’s parents weren't the only ones molding the future college football player. Scott’s older sister, Antoinette Cobb, was a role model he admired and listened to.
“We always did everything together (growing up).” Scott said. “She preached that I had to get good grades. She taught me everything I know about sports. She was the one that taught me how to throw a football.”
Cobb helped West Feliciana High to two state track titles, earning a scholarship to Louisiana Tech. Exhibiting courage, strength and determination, Cobb won four WAC track titles and was the seventh-fastest 100-meter hurdler in the country in 2009. She achieved all that while recovering from stage III colon cancer diagnosed during her freshman year.
Like Cobb, Scott exhibited exceptional athleticism. While playing linebacker and defensive back in high school, Scott was an all-state honorable mention awardee. The 6-foot-1, 211 pounder not only started all 10 games this year at McNeese, he was versatile enough to start some games at linebacker; the others at free safety.
“It’s kinda like riding a bike,” Scott said of playing two positions. “I might not have done it for a while but once you get repetitions you always get better.”
This season Scott was named the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week three times.
In the Cowboys’ 28-14 win over Stephen F. Austin, Scott not only recorded a game-high seven tackles but the kid from Weyanoke set the tone. Looking to hit the scoreboard first, SFA had a second-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Quarterback Zach Congue tried to jump over his offensive line into the end zone. Cowboys linebacker Bo Brown dislodged the football with his helmet. Scott scooped up the ball and went 97 yards for a touchdown, the second-longest fumble return in school history. The win pushed McNeese up four spots to No. 17 in the FCS Coaches’ Poll.
Against Southeastern Louisiana, Scott was all over the stat sheet. One of his two sacks caused quarterback D’Shaie Landor to fumble. Scott recovered the fumble, giving the ball back to the Cowboys late in the fourth quarter. It squashed any chance of the Lions getting back into the game. Scott also had seven tackles and a pass break up in the contest. The Cowboys won 21-7 and were bumped up two spots in the FCS Coaches’ Poll to No. 15.
A week later, it was another scoop-and-score by Scott that ignited a Cowboys victory. Trailing 13-7 at the start of the fourth quarter against Central Arkansas, Scott picked up a bad exchange by UCA quarterback Hayden Hildebrand and center Alec Willis. He sprinted 45-yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Both sides of the ball ran full throttle after Scott’s play. The offense scored 21 fourth-quarter points while the defense kept the Bears off the scoreboard.
Last week the Southland Conference named Scott the Defensive Player of the Year.
“I was shocked and happy at the same time,” Scott said. “(Linebackers) Coach (Lark) Herbert and (defensive coordinator Lance) Guidry played a huge part in making me a better player.”
Scott is the12th player in McNeese history to win Defensive Player of the Year; the first since Bryan Smith won in 2008.
The undefeated Cowboys (10-0, 9-0), who had a bye in the first round of the FCS playoffs, will face Sam Houston State, a conference foe they beat 27-10 back on Nov. 7.
Scott is just one cog in a nasty Cowboy defense that's played a huge part in why McNeese is undefeated and won their 14th Southland Conference championship. No one in the FCS is as stingy as the Cowboys, giving up just 11 points and 78 rushing yards a game.
“It’s a blessing to be in this position right now,” Scott said.