By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
With a Class 5A playoff spot already locked up, Mortimer Jordan was looking to move up the seeding order, while Walker was trying to claim the region crown outright.
The Viking armada achieved its goal with relative ease, completely shutting down the Blue Devils offense as they scored a 38-6 victory Friday night.
By “shutting down,” we mean this: A paltry 102 yards rushing on 25 carries as a team, and a puny 67 yards passing from a quarterback who’s on the radar of several Southeastern Conference schools, including Alabama. That’s a total offense of 169 yards.
Instead of hot prospect Devlin Hodges getting the attention, it was a freshman quarterback for Walker: Bryant Atkins. He directed the Vikings past a porous Jordan defense, finding playmaking wide receiver Quadrekas Key for a 31-yard leaping catch in coverage for a touchdown in the first quarter.
But Walker coach John Holladay was content to let his ground game pound away at the Devils. Tyler Phillips led the way; he scored twice while gaining 79 yards. Full back Michael Bridges added another 74 yards on 14 rushes, most of it straight up the gut.
Meanwhile, Jordan simply could not gain any momentum. Aside from one long drive for 80 yards that ended with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Dee Merriweather, most possessions ended in five plays or fewer. Hodges was 8-for-15 for 67 yards, and he threw his first interception of the season. Hodges’ favored receiver, Logan Motte, came up with five receptions for 48 yards.
Landon Smith ran 10 times for 76 yards; Merriweather was held to just seven yards on as many attempts.
The Devils showed the effects of late-season bangs, bruises and injuries. Running back Tate Day and nose guard Brandon Spears were out with injuries; Smith and Merriweather were also hobbled with various ailments.
“They [Walker] won the region for a reason — my hat’s off to them,” Devils coach Greg Watts said. “We struggled on defense all year, and when you can’t get any momentum on offense, it snowballs. They had a good plan and executed it well. Devlin got pressured — he showed a lot of poise despite the fact he was running for his life most of the night.”
Walker (6-2, 6-0 region) jumped in front early on a Tyler Phillips 6-yard run halfway through the first quarter, with Bryant’s TD pass to Key coming four minutes later. Merriweather’s score with 1:46 to play put the score at 14-6, after Caleb Gandy’s extra-point kick from the 8 was blocked; he was good from the normal placement, but a penalty negated the conversion and pushed him back five yards.
Joe Pedrazza hit a 19-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to make the score 17-6 at intermission.
The Vikings wasted little time in the second half, after a three-and-out and short punt set them up at the Jordan 42. Phillips ran for 40 yards on the first play and two on the next to score quickly,
Michael Bridges added a 1-yard scoring charge later in the third period, and reserve Joseph Bell scored with 7:23 left in the game.
Jordan travels to Center Point team next week that’s smarting from an upset from previously-winless Hayden. The winner of that game will get the No. 3 playoff seed from the region, but the Eagles must win to stay alive, while Jordan is in the post-season no matter what.