WALKER – With his team on the brink of District 4-5A play, Walker High’s first-year coach Chad Mahaffey was candid in his assessment of his team’s chances in the ultra-competitive league.
“I told our team,” he said, “Every one of these games, if we play well enough, we’re good enough to win. But certainly, every team we’re going to play is good enough to beat us and we could lose them all. Right now, I don’t think it’s realistic for us to win every game because we haven’t played with that kind of consistency.”
Walker (3-2) finds itself trending upward, having put together a two-game win streak to begin district play against red-hot No. 10 Scotlandville (5-0).
The Hornets are guided by first-year coach Lester Ricard, who coached Walker to a 6-5 season in 2018 and was 1-0 a year ago when he resigned Sept. 10 for undisclosed reasons.
Senior defensive back Kerry Flowers, who transferred from Scotlandville a year ago, doesn’t anticipate any problems putting those allegiances aside.
“You can’t let it overcome you and think about it during the game,” said Flowers, who has 17 tackles for the Wildcats. “Just play your game. You think about it as a rivalry. Like with any other coaches, it wouldn’t be a personal thing. It would be physical where you just play your game, come out with hustle and show them what you got, what you’ve been working on.”
Mahaffey said he didn’t plan to address that dynamic with his team.
“They’re a human relationships involved, I’m sure there are guys on our team that had great relationships with their former head coaches,” he said. “I’m sure they are guys that didn’t have great relationships. I don’t think who’s coaching here or there is going to be what the guys are thinking when the ball’s snapped. I think it’s just a deal where it’s Walker and Scotlandville and there’s a lot of stake with just that.”
One thing Flowers agreed on is that this year’s Scotlandville team doesn’t resemble the one Walker defeated 50-22 a year ago.
The Hornets have an average margin of victory of 40 points per game, having eclipsed the 60-point mark three times this season – including last week’s 63-18 win over Southern Lab.
“They’re a more physical team,” Flowers said. “They don’t have a lot of size, but if we can keep them contained, we’ll do good. It’s going to be a competitive game.
“I would like the 1-0, it’s not complicated,” Flowers said. “Like any other game where I have friends on the other team, we treat it like a game and after the game we’re friends. During the game, it’s just competition to see who’s better and afterward there’s bragging rights.”
Mahaffey has noticed two constants in Scotlandville’s fast start – a versatile quarterback and the Hornets’ solid offensive line play.
“I’m really impressed with their O-line,” he said. “They really come off the ball well and do a good job getting that running game going. Yet again, (we’re facing) another mobile quarterback that can hurt you both running and throwing with plenty of receivers to get the ball to.”
The origin of Walker’s first multi-game win streak of the season has been rooted in its ability to run the ball well and slow down opponents from running.
Senior Demetri Wright has carried 66 times for 439 yards and six touchdowns to lead that ground game, while Keondre Brown returned in last week’s 41-6 win over Broadmoor and scored a touchdown in limited duty.
Brown has 38 attempts for 201 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 10 catches for 148 yards and a score.
Quarterback Ethan McMasters has completed 61 of 109 passes for 992 yards with three interceptions and 12 TDs. Brian Thomas has served as his top target with 27 receptions for 565 yards (21 yards per catch) and eight TDs.
“We’ve played some great games,” Flowers said. “Physically we’re prepared. Mentally we have to finish on parts that we haven’t finished, but we’ve been working on that. We have to be consistent. We have to finish games consistently and that’s what coach talks about.”