By Robert Bradford
North Jefferson News
Walker celebrated a homecoming win 37-0 over the Hayden Friday night, securing a playoff berth for the Vikings and dashing any hopes the winless Wildcats had of a miracle march to the post-season.
Hayden's defense started the game off playing well, forcing a Walker punt on it's first possession. But the Wildcats' offense sputtered, and was forced to punt on its first possession also.
On the first play following the Cats punt, quarterback Blake Wilkes — son of former Hayden QB Wayne Wilkes — hit Sa'Darius Key for a 33-yard touchdown pass.
An onside kick was recovered by Walker at the Hayden 41. The Hayden defense held and forced a 39-yard field goal attempt, which was hit by Joseph Pedraza to put the Vikings up 10-0 with six minutes left in the first quarter.
The Vikings found paydirt again on their next possession when Wilkes hit Quadarius Key for 40 yards and a touchdown with 56 seconds on the opening quarter.
After the teams swapped punts, Hayden again got into Viking territory, but turned the ball over on downs at the Walker 37. Walker's Pedraza connected on a 46-yard field goal on their next possession.
Walker then put the game out of reach on a 33 yard pass from Bryant Atkins to Quadarius Key. That put the score at 24-0 with only :34 left in the half.
Walker would add a couple of touchdowns in the second half, the first coming with 5:38 remaining in the third quarter as Tyler Phillips ran in from five yards out.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Carlton Durrough ran in from the 1 to put Hayden out of its misery.
The leading rusher for the Cats was Dylan Putnam, who had 32 yards on nine carries. Austin King led Wildcat receivers with a single catch for 44 yards; Pressley Niblett added two catches for 28 yards.
Corey Ward was 8-17-0 passing for 95 yards.
The win improves Walker to 4-2 overall, 4-0 in the region, while Hayden drops to 0-6 and 0-4.
The Wildcats will travel for the third time in a row as they will take on the Blue Devils of Mortimer Jordan.