Not this team. Not this group of 17 seniors.
The Vikings’ defense stepped up again and again as Walker picked up a 17-7 victory over the Indians at Ki-Ro Gambrell Field.
Pinson Valley’s only points came on a kickoff return to open the third quarter.
“It was a total team effort,” Walker interim head coach Heath Brunner said. “We had a great defensive game. At the end of the day, it goes back to our 17 seniors believing in what we are trying to do. We are trying to get them to stay positive and focus on the future. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys than I am right now.”
Walker was placed on restrictive probation by the AHSAA due to a fight involving coaches after the season opener against Cullman. The probation means the Vikings are banned from the postseason this year, but that doesn’t mean they are giving up on the season.
“We can still go 9-1 and win every region game,” Walker quarterback Bryant Atkins said.
The Vikings made a statement against one of the region favorites.
Walker held Pinson Valley running back Nick Gibson in check. Gibson was the State Player of the Week after rushing for 447 yards and six touchdowns in a win over Mortimer Jordan last week. Against Walker, Gibson rushed for 120 yards on 22 carries, but never reached the end zone.
“We talked about (Gibson) all week,” Walker senior linebacker Austin Mansell said. “He’s a tremendous player and we knew we couldn’t let him beat us. I couldn’t be more proud of our defense and the way we played tonight.”
Walker led 10-0 at the half, but Pinson Valley opened the third quarter with a 78-yard kickoff return for a score.
The Vikings shut down the Indians from there and put the game away with a Marlon Oliver touchdown with just over two minutes remaining in the contest.
Down by a field goal, the Indians put together two long drives in the second half, but Walker’s defense shut them down in the red zone.
A 13-play drive stalled at the Walker 30-yard line in the third quarter and a 17-play drive ended at the Walker 10-yard line in the fourth quarter after a game-tying field goal attempt went wide left.
Friday’s game was scoreless was until the second quarter when Oliver went into the end zone from three yards out. The score was set up by a 32-yard run by quarterback Bryant Atkins.
Later in the quarter, Walker got a 21-yard run to set up the Vikings at the Pinson Valley 29-yard line. Five plays later, Ran Crump made a 29-yard field goal with 1:20 remaining in the half to give Walker a 10-0 halftime lead.
Pinson Valley got on the scoreboard to open the third quarter when Juray Smith took the kick off at the 22-yard line and raced 78 yards for a score to cut the gap to 10-7.
The Indians put together a time-consuming, 70-yard drive to open the fourth quarter. Pinson Valley got as close as the Walker 10-yard line, but the field goal missed the mark. Walker took advantage of the momentum swing and drove 80 yards in eight plays for a touchdown to put the game out of reach.
Oliver did most of the damage, breaking free of a 28-yard gain on a key fourth-and-1 play at the Pinson Valley 46-yard line. He followed with a five-yard run and 13-yard touchdown run.
“Marlon Oliver and our offensive line made plays all night long. Joe Bell ran the ball well and Bryant did a great job of managing the game,” Brunner added.
Oliver finished with 137 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He was at his best with the game on the line, rushing six times for 61 yards in the fourth quarter. Atkins rushed 12 times for 81 yards and also completed 7-of-11 passes for 74 yards.
Walker (2-1, 2-0) plays at Curry next week.