Walton High School’s head football coach, Daniel Brunner, has been around the game of football his whole life. Coach Brunner played football at Roswell High School for 4 years and, after high school, went on to play at Rhodes College. There, Coach was a four-year starter and team captain as a senior. He went on to become the defensive line coach at LaGrange College and was later hired to coach back at Roswell High School. He took a brief coaching stop at Centennial High School before finally arriving at Walton, where Coach Bruner has been the head coach for two seasons.
Coach Brunner is tasked with a new challenge this year, as the Raiders lose a plethora of talent this offseason as an astounding seven Raiders in the 2019 class are committed to play college football. Coach says, “That class is leaving a huge void behind them. A ton of super talented leaders are leaving this locker room.” He believes, however, that those seniors “helped the younger kids find their way in this program,” and says that the Raiders are not just looking to not miss a beat this upcoming season but also to start a new tune.
Going into the 2019-2020 season, Coach Brunner has laid out a few things for his players to remember in their daily actions, whether they are on the field or in the classroom. “Our longstanding motto is ‘Ball Down, Ball Out’,” Coach says. “The ball isn’t always downed where you want it to be, in football or in life, but the only thing you can do is take the ball, wherever it is, and make something happen with it.” The motto for the season that he wants his players to remember is “Own the Moment.” This is important, he believes, because players need to, “Do the best they possibly can with every passing moment.”
Coach Brunner also emphasizes that the Walton Raiders are united with the school community. “I think the word family is overused in football,” Coach says, “but there truly is no other way to describe what we have in this building.” He instills in his players that they need to not only treat each other as a family but the entire Walton community as one. “If you see someone sitting alone at the lunch table, sit next to them. If someone is struggling in the classroom, go help them,” Coach Brunner encourages. “The thing that should set us apart from the rest is that the Raiders make the right choice, even if it is the hard one.”
Coach Brunner knows that Walton students and families have many choices when it comes to where they spend their Friday nights in the fall. What makes a Walton football game unique is that “Raider Valley has a small town feel in a metropolitan area.” Coach encourages the community to come out to Walton football games and see the result of all the hard work that these young men are putting in. The first opportunity will be the Blue and White Scrimmage game on May 3 at 7:00 p.m. in Raider Valley. Coach Brunner certainly hopes Spring Fever will bring this community out in a big way to see what’s next for the Walton Raider football program.