While Hahnville’s Anthony Williams earned most of the attention during the newly established early collegiate signing period for prep athletes as he signed with Kansas, he wasn’t alone among St. Charles Parish athletes making their next destinations official, with several football and softball standouts putting pen to paper.
Destrehan’s Macon Clark (Tulane) and Hahnville’s Jamel Byrd (Southern) are headed to play college football, while Hahnville’s Danielle Duplay (Nicholls State), Kamryn Keller (Coastal Alabama), Catherine Friloux (Missouri-Kansas City) and Karly Taranto (Northwest Florida State) and Destrehan’s Grace Estevez (Colorado Northwestern Community College) will continue their softball careers at the next level.
Clark, a 6-foot, 180 pound safety, tallied 70.5 tackles in his 12 games of action for Destrehan. He sacked quarterbacks four times, intercepted one pass, blocked a kick, forced two fumbles. He scored three touchdowns on the season, one on an interception return and two on blocked kicks.
“I think Tulane liked his versatility,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “He used to play cornerback then played safety, could play up on the line or out on the hash … he’s just a really good athlete who works extremely hard and plays extremely hard. I think they see the upside in him. He can be that 6-foot, 200 pound safety that can really be special … I think Tulane’s getting a real good player.”
Byrd, the younger brother of former University of Miami star and Hahnville alumnus LaRon Byrd, is a 6-foot-2, 190 pound wide receiver who now heads to play for the Jaguars.
Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio called Byrd “one of his very favorite kids” and praised his unselfishness and willingness to sacrifice to help the Tigers return to the Superdome for the Class 5A championship game. As a junior, he caught 25 passes for 399 yards and three touchdowns.
“He never complained, never got down,” Saltaformaggio said. “He had really nice numbers (as a junior) and this year he went out and blocked in a year we struggled to throw the football. He never said a word to complain, he went out and blocked his butt off. He’s a weight room junkie who believed that was the way to the Superdome, and he put in the work knowing he probably wouldn’t get a lot of balls thrown to him. You get to the championship game because of kids like that.”
The Lady Tigers’ quartet helped lead their team to Sulphur for the first time since 2013. Keller hit .443 last season. Friloux drove in 23 runs, Duplay recorded a .490 on-base percentage and Taranto was the District 7-5A co-MVP as the team’s starting pitcher, going 24-7 and posting a 2.71 ERA.
“It’s very exciting and it speaks to how hard they’ve worked, dating back to when they were eight to nine years old,” said Hahnville coach Jerry Nugent. “They’re all extremely competitive and relentless workers. And to play at the next level, that’s what you need to be. They all bring different skills to the table.
“Kamryn is one of the most complete hitters around. Catherine has tremendous range. Danielle is our sparkplug, steals bases and scores runs. Karly’s been one of the top pitchers in the metro area the past few years. They all have a great love of the game.”
Estevez, an outfielder for Destrehan, shares that kind of strong work ethic, said Wildcats coach Kenny Montz.
“She’s really improved over the last three years and added depth to our outfield,” Montz said. “She works extremely hard and she’s been a great teammate. She’s very good at running the bases and, as a senior, will be a team leader for us this year.”