Fresh off of back-to-back state championships and undefeated seasons, at U-High Walker coach Chad Mahaffey made his debut with his new team Friday night, the Walker Wildcats.
His debut had no shortage of excitement with Walker holding off Madison Prep 38-30 at Walker High School.
The first quarter got off to a quick start. On the opening drive, Walker quarterback Ethan McMaster connected with running back Keondre Brown on a wheel route and sprinted 44 yards down the sideline for the opening score.
in addition to that catch, Brown led the Wildcats with 22 carries for 116 yards.
MPA responded to the early Walker lead with a 46-yard keeper from quarterback Zeon Chriss. On the ensuing kickoff, the Chargers pinned Walker back within its own 5, setting the defense up to force a safety.
Chriss completed 18 of 32 passes with 372 yards and three TDs. He added 111 yards rushing.
The fireworks continued with McMasters throwing it underneath to Brian Thomas who stiff-armed a plethora of defenders on his way to a score.
The first quarter included more than 300 yards , three touchdowns, a field goal and a safety. By the end of the quarter, Madison Prep trailed 17-16 with the ball on the Walker 9-yard line. That’s when the fast-paced trend of the first quarter ceased and the turnover-laden trend of the second quarter began.
Madison Prep fumbled the ball and Walker recovered. This was one of five first-half turnovers for the Chargers.
While Madison Prep’s offense struggled to hold on to the ball, its defense tightened up significantly. Walker tacked on a score to take a 24-16 halftime lead.
After halftime, Walker came out with a boom. After adding two touchdowns on their first two drives, the Wildcats kicked and recovered an onside kick. A few plays later, running back Demitri Wright broke off a 34-yard run for a touchdown.
Walker led 38-16 in the third quarter, and MPA seemed all but done. However, the Chargers rallied in the fourth quarter with two TDs from quarterback Zeon Chriss. After a two-point conversion, The Chargers found themselves in a one-score game with three minutes to play.
However, Walker converted on third down allowing the Wildcats to close the game out.
“It’s a lot of mental mistakes that we had early on,” Madison Prep coach Landry Williams said. “I just hope we can get those things corrected early on so it doesn’t show its ugly head again.”
“It was a tough ball game, but I’m proud of our guys for finishing it out,” Mahaffey said. “We got off to a hot start. I think the big thing we’ll take out of this is that we had the opportunity to get more separation, and we didn’t.”