Raider Report by Evan Crowell
Walton prevailed on Saturday over the Norcross Blue Devils 21-20 at Corky Kell in Mercedes Benz Stadium, keeping us on the edge of our seats until the final seconds.
The offense put together a good game, steadily improving throughout the game. They had a great second half, scoring 14 points in the 4th quarter. Senior wideout Teagen Bierra was a huge playmaker for the offense, catching almost everything that came his way, including a touchdown pass midway through the 1st quarter. Look to hear more big things from Teagen this year. Senior running back Julian Bumper had a big game as well, having multiple touches going for big gains. One of the swings of the game came with 8:00 on the clock in the 4th quarter. Our Raiders trailed 7-20, and it looked as if Norcross was in position to close out the game with a stop on defense. Then, offensive coordinator Coach Hirschfield came up with the best call of the game. Sophomore Zak Rozsman drifted back in the pocket and threw a backside wheel route to Julian, who did the rest. Eighty yards and a cloud of dust later, the Raiders had stolen the momentum of the game with a score of 14-20. The offense then regained position at midfield, and it was time for KD Stokes to take over. The senior back had two big rushes on the drive and punched the ball into the end zone at the goal line to give the Raiders the lead. Much credit for the win is owed to the line, who gave the offense time get the ball to its playmakers.
The defense stayed strong from the opening kickoff. The comeback would not have been possible without the consistency of the defense. One key series helped change the game. The Blue Devils drove all the way down to the three yard line, looking to punch the ball in the end zone. Our Raider defense stopped Norcross in its tracks and held them to a field goal. In the second half especially, the Raider defense began intimidating the opposing offense. The defensive line lived in the backfield and defensive backs were all over receivers. Sophomore AJ Brown was a standout from his safety position, making big hits on running backs giving the offense no hope of targeting receivers downfield. Senior Jeb Carriere also was a big help in his first game at linebacker, giving defensive coordinator Coach Ewing a versatile player who can rush the passer and play coverage in the middle of the field. The biggest play of the game came in the closing seconds, however. After the KD’s touchdown, the Norcross offense drove into field goal range on the final drive. With 10 seconds left, it looked as if the great Raider comeback might be for nothing. But our Raiders have a history of field goals in the Corky Kell. Multiple Raiders stormed into the backfield, and though none of them tipped it, the effort was enough to ensure that the kick never had a chance to go in.
What an opening! While there were impressive plays and players, the real story of this game was the Raiders’ resilience, their unwillingness to give up, their determination to Own the Moment. These Raiders have us very excited for the upcoming season. Raider faithful, come out and support your Raiders on Friday in their home opener against Collins Hill at 7:30 in the Valley.