Walker: First-time New Orleans picker feels the pressure

So you thought coaches and players were the only ones who face a little pressure at the start of the high school football season?

Try being a sportswriter.

You see, I’m the new guy in town, and I have taken on the task of making predictions on the area’s prep games.

The season kicks off tonight, just three weeks after I arrived in New Orleans.

So I have scrambled and done plenty of homework trying to make sure I nail every single game and make this whole picks thing look easy in the Big Easy.

I solicited plenty of outside help, including a Jackson Square palm reader and this old nickel that I keep on my desk. (Yes, I flipped a coin on McDonogh vs. Sophie Wright.)

For the past two seasons, I was able to eclipse the 80 percent mark on predictions at the newspaper I wrote for previously.

But like the old cliché goes, “you can throw the records out the window.”

This is a new season, fresh with new coaches, new players and new playbooks.

The good news for me is that it’s just Week 1, so this weekend’s games aren’t really that important anyway.

Right?

Wrong.

Just ask Darrel Williams, a senior running back at John Ehret.

“It’s one of the biggest games of my high school career,” Williams said.

Why is it so important?

Well, Williams and his Patriots teammates finished 0-10 last season. Their opponent, Cohen, also was winless, finishing 0-9.

One of the teams will get its first win since 2011. Tonight’s loser will have to wait another night.

And I thought making these predictions was pressure.

I should probably try standing in the shoes of Ehret coach Corey Lambert or Cohen coach Perry McCarty.

“It’s always pressure,” said Lambert, in his second season. “You don’t take anyone for granted.

“Any game is winnable and any game is losable.”

Ehret is looking for its first 1-0 start since 2007.

In order to get that, the Patriots will likely have to have a big game from Williams, an Arizona State commit who rushed for 947 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.

My first prediction. ... Williams has a big night.

I’ll let him help me with my second prediction.

“This is going to be our first win,” Williams predicted.

OK, so I’m picking Ehret to get its first win since November 2011 tonight.

While Ehret or Cohen will have plenty to celebrate tonight, there are several other big games in the area to start the season.

One of the biggest matchups features Karr, ranked No. 1 in The New Orleans Advocate’s large school rankings, against No. 5 St. Paul’s.

I’m picking Karr, but it could be closer than you expect if Karr, gets caught looking ahead to those much-anticipated Week 2 and 3 showdowns with St. Augustine and Curtis, respectively.

And speaking of Curtis, the Patriots take on Bergen Catholic (N.J.) in it season opener.

It’s the first of back-to-back interstate games for the Patriots, who were crowned “national champions” last season by several publications.

The Patriots play perennial power St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) next week and also have dates with Karr and St. Augustine in the first five weeks of the season.

Now THAT’s pressure.

I guess these predictions ain’t so tough after all.

Thursday

Cohen vs. John Ehret (w)

De La Salle (w) vs. Grace King

Crescent City vs. Haynes (w)

Friday

Ridgewood at Ben Franklin (w)

Bergen (N.J.) vs. John Curtis (w)

Bonnabel at Fontainebleau (w)

Helen Cox (w) at Northshore

Karr (w) at St. Paul’s

DeKaney, Texas at Mandeville (w)

Holy Cross at Covington (w)

Ponchatoula (w) vs. Jesuit

Slidell (w) at Chalmette

South Pike, Miss. (w) at Hammond

Shaw (w) at Thibodaux

Hahnville at Salmen (w)

Landry-Walker at S. Lafourche (w)

West Jefferson at Destrehan (w)

East Jefferson (w) vs. Higgins

Miller-McCoy (w) at Lakeshore

Pine at Pearl River (w)

Riverdale at Hannan (w)

Tylertown, Ms. (w) at Franklinton

Belle Chasse at S. Plaquemines (w)

Warren Easton (w) at St. Amant

Clark at Northlake Chr. (w)

Thomas Jefferson (w) at Albany

Lusher (w) at St. Martin’s

McMain at Newman (w)

Southern Lab at St. Charles (w)

Pope JOHn Paul (w) at S. Patrick (MS.)

McDonogh vs. Sophie Wright (w)

Evangel (w) at Riverside

Sci Academy at Fisher (w)

St. James at West St. John (w)

Country Day (w) at Ecole Classique

Saturday

Patterson vs. Brother Martin (w)

East St. John vs. Rummel (w)

McDonogh 35 vs. St. Augustine (w)