WALKER – Walker High junior Peyton Richard may not be the most physically imposing football player on the field, but what he may lack in stature he makes up for in confidence and ability.
“I don’t think anybody can guard me right now,” he said.
In the second week of the Baton Rouge Metro 7-on-7 League at Walker High, Richard dazzled on Wednesday, reeling in eight passes for 141 yards, good for an average of 17.6 yards per catch.
He didn’t have a catch that went for less than 10 yards, using his speed and shiftiness to routinely shed defenders and pick up yards after the reception
“I think I had a good day,” Richard said. “Today was probably one of my better days. I’d say it was about an eight or nine (out of 10) …whenever we need a couple of yards, I know I’m going to be there. I’m going make that catch and make the best out of nothing. I’m just trying to be that key player.”
First-year Walker coach Chad Mahaffey praised Richard’s play.
“Peyton’s a really sharp kid,” Mahaffey said. “He’s a good route runner, he’s a tough cover. He’s got good wiggle to him; he understands how to use his body to get open and he’s pretty reliable with his hands. He’s done a lot of good things since I’ve been here, I’m expecting him to have a good season.”
Richard’s speed, elusiveness, and good hands proved to be an excellent complement to teammate Brian Thomas’ downfield ability. Defenses could only consistently cover one receiver at a time, and as a result Thomas finished with 11 catches for 145 yards, averaging 13.2 yards per catch.
Overall, the Walker offense mostly led by quarterback Ethan McMasters went 30-52 through the air for 373 yards, averaging 12.4 yards per completion, with one interception.
On drives quarterbacked only by McMasters, Walker went 24-40 for 333 yards and more importantly, no interceptions.
“I thought Ethan threw the ball well,” Mahaffey said. “We had some guys get open and make some tough catches, which was good to see.”
Richard added: “Everyone’s learning. We’ve come a long way with all the coaching changes we’ve had. Right now, we’re doing our best.”
The Wildcat defense did a good job of getting opposing offenses off the field but were occasionally victims of a big play. Opponents went 20 of 32 through the air against Walker for 244 yards, averaging 12.2 yards per completion. The Wildcats were without standout cornerback Jalen Cook, who is at the University of Virginia for a Top 100 basketball camp.
Regardless, Mahaffey was pleased with what we saw from the other side of the ball.
“They did good,” Mahaffey said. “Really, both of our starting corners were out. We had a couple of other guys in the secondary not here, so I thought guys really stepped up. Marcus Dukes hadn’t played a lot a defense, but he came in there and made some plays. I thought the guys did a good job.”