Walker’s defense set the tone early and never deviated from its smash-mouth style as the Vikings handed Center Point its first loss of the season in a 28-8 defensive masterpiece at Ki-Ro Gambrell Field.
The Vikings, who remained perfect in region play with the victory, had 14 tackles for loss and three interceptions in the game.
“Our defense has been carrying us all year,” Walker interim head coach Heath Brunner said. “I’m not surprised. They stepped up and did a great job.”
Walker (5-2 overall, 5-0 in Class 5A, Region 6) scored its first touchdown late in the first quarter and pushed its lead to 14-0 in the second quarter. The Vikings led 21-6 at the halftime break.
“We just came out and played our game,” Bruner said. “We took them out of their game. We put them in an adverse situation. That’s something they haven’t been in all year.”
Walker players agreed.
“When they started arguing with each other, that’s when we knew we had them,” senior linebacker Jaiquan Crook said. “We just kept eating and they were the appetizer.”
No. 5 Center Point (6-1, 4-1) totaled just 118 yards of offense, including 19 yards on the ground.
Austin Mansell led Walker’s defense with 10 tackles while both Sawyer Smith and Crook had eight tackles. Smith, John Michael Reed and Jarrod Ollie had interceptions for the Vikings.
“We just wanted to show people that we are still in it,” Crook added. “We wanted to show folks that we are still good. Don’t count us out.”
Walker got the scoring started with 1:10 left in the first quarter when Lane Davenport took the handoff on a reverse and found Marlon Oliver for a 24-yard touchdown. Oliver caught the ball at the 10-yard line and shook off three Center Point defenders to get into the end zone. Ran Crump made the first of four extra points to put Walker up 7-0.
Walker’s Alec Sides partially blocked a Center Point punt to set up the next score. The Vikings took over at the Center Point 38-yard line and Atkins hit Brady Pugh for a 10-yard touchdown strike with 7:53 left in the second quarter.
Center Point’s Zakez Jones scored on the Eagles’ next possession. Jones’ 3-yard touchdown was set up by a long punt return coupled with a 15-yard pass interference call on Walker. The conversion failed as Center Point drew within 14-6 with 5:45 left in the half.
The Eagles got no closer.
Walker scored again with 16 seconds left in the half when Atkins went into the end zone on a quarterback sneak for a 21-6 halftime lead.
The Vikings padded the lead in the third quarter. Following a five-yard punt by Center Point, Walker took over the Eagles’ 25-yard line. Four plays later, Joe Bell scored on a five-yard run.
Center Point scored the game’s final points when the snap sailed over the head of Walker’s punter. He recovered the ball in the end zone with 5:39 left in the game.
Center Point played the game without injured starting quarterback Keilan Knight.
Freshman Christopher Baker tried to fill the void. He completed 10-of-20 passes for 99 yards and three interceptions.
Offensively for Walker, Marlon Oliver rushed 24 times for 139 yards. He also had three receptions for 31 yards and a score. Bell rushed seven times for 23 yards.
Walker plays its final road game next week at Mortimer Jordan. The Vikings are two wins away from finishing with a perfect region record for the second straight season. Their final region game is at home against Springville.
“That’s all we have to play for, the region title,” senior defensive lineman KJ Farris said. “We have to win the region.”
“We still have two more before we can say we are the region champs,” Brunner said.
Walker is ineligible for the playoffs after being placed on restrictive probation by the AHSAA following an on-the-field altercation in the season opener against Cullman.