Safe to say the Vikings accomplished just that.
Walker connected on two long touchdown passes in the opening quarter and pulled away from there, routing winless Hayden 37-0 on homecoming at Walker’s Ki-Ro Gambrell Stadium.
The Vikings rebounded from last week’s lethargic effort in a 16-0 loss to Russellville, a game that saw Walker gain just 82 yards of offense. Against Hayden, Walker had nearly double that number at the end of the first quarter.
“‘Effort’ was our key word of the week,” Walker coach John Holladay said. “We had a rough week of practice, a physical week and our kids responded. I think we did give a lot of effort tonight.”
Despite the win, there was some bad new for Walker.
Starting quarterback Blake Wilkes left the game with a thumb injury in the first half. He returned to the sideline in the third quarter.
“It’s not looking good,” Holladay said.
The Vikings’ went right to work against Hayden, scoring on their second possession via their quick-strike offense. After an 8-yard Hayden punt set up Walker at the Wildcats’ 33-yard line, Wilkes connected with Sa'Darius Key on a 33-yard touchdown strike. Joseph Pedraza added the extra point for a 7-0 lead at the 7:59 mark of the opening quarter.
Seconds later, Quadrekas Key recovered an onside kick for the Vikings, setting the team up at the Hayden 41-yard line. After an 18-yard pick up by Tyler Phillips, Pedraza knocked in a 40-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with six minutes left in the quarter.
With 56 seconds left in the quarter, Wilkes hit Quadrekas Key on a 40-yard touchdown pass for a 17-0 advantage.
Walker racked up 146 yards in the opening quarter.
Freshman quarterback Bryant Atkins took over in the second quarter and added to Walker’s lead, hitting Quadrekas Key with a 33-yard touchdown pass with just 34 seconds left in the first half for a 24-0 advantage going into the half.
“Bryant did a good job of leading the offense. He threw some nice balls. He was calm and cool for a ninth grader,” Holladay said.
Walker’s defense held Hayden in check in the opening half, allowing just 70 yards of offense.
The Vikings (4-2 overall, 4-0 in region play) stuck to the ground in the second half, attempting just two passes.
Walker added a 5-yard touchdown from Tyler Phillips in the third quarter with John Crump adding the extra point for a 31-0 lead at the 5:38 mark. Carlton Dorrough added the final touchdown on a 1-yard run with 7:48 left in the game.
For the Vikings, Wilkes finished 4-of-7 for 86 yards and two scores while Atkins was 4-of-8 for 72 yards and a touchdown. Quadrekas Key caught five passes for 98 yards and two scores. On the ground, Michael Bridges rushed 13 times for 65 yards while Philips had 59 yards on 13 carries.
Defensively, both Blake Moore and Austin Mansell had 10 tackles.
Hayden (0-6, 0-4) gained just 126 yard in the game with 44 yards coming on a long pass play in the fourth quarter.
Walker heads to Center Point for a key region game next week. Pinson Valley knocked off Center Point 31-6 on Friday.