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Warriors Sports

"Warriors Win State Title"

Posted Saturday, November 24, 2007 by cc

Walton 2007: Simply the best

SYRACUSE _ It just had to end the way it did.
After all, domination is what this Walton football team is all about.
The Warriors' 64-6 beating of Ticonderoga in the Class D state championship game Friday wasn't anything personal toward the Sentinels. It just so happened the Section Seven champions were the ones standing in the way of Walton's march to history.
A second state championship and fifth unbeaten season are the big prizes for the Warriors and 32nd-year coach Jim Hoover, who ran his career record to 255-64-1.
Nearly 2,000 black-and-orange-clad fans, waving towels and holding signs, made the more than two-hour trip to the Carrier Dome to watch Walton put the finishing touches on a magical season.
Although this season and its incredible statistics will be talked about for many years to come, the only thing that mattered to the team was the final result.
"I didn't care how we won it or what the score was," said halfback Casey Killian. "I just wanted to win the game and we got the job done."
Hoover stopped short of saying this team is the best he's ever coached, though he admitted it's likely the first to dominate so equally on both sides of the ball. The Warriors outscored opponents, 707-48, this year, a spread of 54.4-3.7 per game.
"This has to rank right up near the top," Hoover said. "There are some other ones. We've had some real good teams. You just can't compare them because you are going against different competition and kids are getting bigger and faster _ they say that in the pros and colleges all the time _ but it's true."
But what about that combination of a punishing defense and a nearly unstoppable offense?
"Probably not in one season, no," Hoover said. "You're kind of speechless when you think about something like that. You don't want to say it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, but it's not going to happen very often."
Hoover doesn't have to say this is the best Walton team ever, however.
I can't say that, either, because I'm not old enough to remember his other great teams _ and there have been plenty. But I can say with confidence that the 2007 edition of Walton is the best high school team I've seen. Ever.
What's not to like about watching this team?
The defense is like a demolition derby, and it's hardly ever because of just one person. When one Walton defender gets near a ballcarrier, several others are close by and usually end up helping to finish tackles like a lion chasing down its prey.
Then there's the offense. It's nothing flashy or tricky _ it's good, old-fashioned, smash-mouth Walton football. The Warriors come at you and challenge you to stop them. And if you slow them down a bit, they'll put someone into motion, flip the ball to the outside and use their speed to race down the sidelines.
Oh, and they had a quarterback who could throw this year, too. Still, Pat O'Brien said he was pretty content just handing the ball to any of his running backs.
"It's great to be the quarterback on this team," he said. "You probably think that's crazy, but it's pretty cool."
It's tough to call this team the best this area has seen as we've been blessed with some outstanding ones. That group includes three Class C state champions in Walton (1994), Delhi (2001) and Sidney (2005).
All three were strong offensively and defensively, but none had Walton's combination of both this season.
Hoover has now coached five unbeaten teams _ 13-0 this year and 1994; 11-0 in 1991; and 10-0 in 1987 and 1989.
"I've seen a lot of good football teams and we're up there in the top," said fullback Richard Fletcher, the MVP of the championship. "I don't know, I'd put us in the top-10 or top-5 (at Walton). We played real hard and we wanted it and it all turned out well. It's something not many teams have done and we're thankful to win one."
Fletcher's comments also illustrate that this Walton squad is humble.
All season, players have pushed the spotlight off themselves and onto other teammates. Running backs won't comment without first giving credit to their offensive line. In return, offensive linemen say they are just doing their jobs and the running backs do the deed.
When it comes to defense, none call for the spotlight, always citing a "team effort" at the end of a win.
Need proof? Just ask senior running back Logan Wood.
"We have great backs and have a great line," said Wood, who rushed for 1,180 yards this season. "They make big holes and we run through them. It was a great team effort. This is amazing what we did all year. We worked hard to keep everything going and to keep winning."

State champs by TKO
By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

SYRACUSE _ Walton gave Ticonderoga no chance.
Richard Fletcher earned MVP honors Friday after rushing for 106 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries to lead the top-ranked Warriors to the Class D state football championship with a 64-6 thumping of Ticonderoga at the Carrier Dome.
The Warriors capped a 13-0 season _ their fifth undefeated effort in program history _ in front of an estimated 2,800 fans. About 2,000 cheered from Walton's section in the Dome as the Section Four champions won their first state title since 1994. That year, the Warriors won their first state football crown.
In a thorough beating of the Sentinels from Section Seven, Walton set state-championship game records for most points, largest margin of victory and most rushing touchdowns (nine). Additionally, the Warriors' 64 points are three shy of the all-time record for any round of the state playoffs. In a 2004 Class A state quarterfinal, Iroquois downed Eastridge, 67-48.
"I thought it was going to be a close game," said junior Chris Mead, the game's most valuable defensive lineman. "I was kind of hoping for a close game, but it turned out the way it did."
Again.
Ticonderoga became the latest doormat for Walton, which outscored its opponents, 707-48, this season. The Warriors' closest game this fall came Oct. 6, a 38-0 non-conference rout of Section Nine's Tri-Valley that was part of an eight-game shutout streak.
Walton's defense was as dominant as ever, holding the Sentinels to 93 yards. The Warriors finished with 395 yards, outrushing Ticonderoga, 366-51.
"This is unexplainable," said two-way lineman Wade Hammond. "We just came out and worked hard and played our best. They couldn't really stop our offense."
Ticonderoga (10-3) seemed so nervous and confused that it burned a timeout before taking a snap. The opening kickoff to the Sentinels took three seconds off the clock and set them up at their 34-yard line, but Ticonderoga remained in a huddle and was forced into an early break to avoid a delay-of-game penalty.
Walton coach Jim Hoover used that moment for a quick pep talk.
"When they had to call the timeout and I went out and talked to the defense, I said, Right now there's a lot of question marks out there and they're not sure what is going on,'" Hoover said. "I said, Now is the time to take it to them and show them they're right.' Ticonderoga played well, but they are a very young team, and with our experience, size and quickness, they couldn't handle it."
Although Matt Streeter completed a 19-yard pass to Evan Glading on first down, the Sentinels punted four plays later.
Walton made up for a false start on its first offensive play with a run that set the tone. Fletcher gained 4 yards on first down before Casey Killian took a handoff from quarterback Pat O'Brien through the right side. Lead blocker Dominic Tomao helped create a huge hole for Killian, who broke down the sideline for a 74-yard touchdown run.
Logan Wood's two-point conversion run gave the Warriors an 8-0 lead 2 minutes, 35 seconds into the first quarter.
"The line did a great job on that touchdown," said Killian, the most outstanding offensive back who finished with 95 yards on eight carries. "I don't think I was even touched. (Tomao) ran a real nice block that I cut off of, and after that, I just turned my speed all the way up for the touchdown. ... I just wanted to get in the end zone as soon as I could and set the tone for the game."
Mission accomplished.
"That's wind under your sails to get you going," said center Drew Hammond, the most valuable offensive lineman. "I never thought Casey was that fast, but he was booking it down the sideline. It was incredible the way he finished it off, and it was a good first touchdown to get us going."
Though roughly 43 minutes still remained, the game essentially was over.
"We knew we could definitely win," Fletcher said. "We knew at that point if we played well and didn't have any mistakes, we'd definitely win."
The Sentinels went three-and-out on their next series but gave the Warriors excellent field position with a botched snap. Punter Craig Granger tried to scoop the ball on a short-hop but fumbled, leaving him no choice but to fall on it at the Ticonderoga 10.
Fletcher gained 7 yards on the ensuing play, then scored on a 3-yard run to make it 14-0.
"After a couple of series, you realize they aren't going to move the ball against us," Hoover said. "They came out throwing a little bit, which they haven't done a lot of this year. You knew they were kind of giving up on their running game early, and that's their bread and butter. Unless everything fell apart and you started fumbling the ball away and all this, you knew you had good control."
Bryant Mead ended Ticonderoga's next drive on the first play, cutting in front of Glading at the line of scrimmage to intercept Streeter and return the ball 18 yards to the Sentinels' 15.
After a false start, Killian gained 5 yards, Logan Wood got 6 and Fletcher scored on a 9-yard run. Fletcher's conversion run made it 22-0 with 4:54 to play in the first quarter.
"It all starts with our line," Fletcher said. "If you don't have a good line, then the running backs can't run and you can't score points. Our line did an exceptional job all year blocking and opened up real big holes for us and everybody could run through them."
Wood scored on a 4-yard run with 11:18 to play in the second quarter, and Pat O'Brien connected with Chad Gardepe for the conversion and a 30-0 lead.
The Sentinels got their second first down on their next drive, but on the fifth play, Streeter was picked off by Chad Gardepe. He stepped in front of receiver Jake Taylor at the 43 and followed with a 9-yard return.
Four plays later, Fletcher scored from 3 yards for a 36-0 lead with 7:35 to play in the half. The Warriors made it 42-0 at the half _ the same score they beat Bolivar-Richburg by in a state semifinal a week ago _ when Anthony Mead scored with 2:35 to play before halftime.
"It was kind of emotional because you know the first-stringers are in their last game and you want to keep them in as long as possible," Hoover said of his halftime speech. "But they understand that we're not going to be able to and we have to substitute."
The Warriors capped an eight-play drive to open the second half when Fletcher scored on a 1-yard run. Killian's conversion made it 50-0 with 7:49 remaining in the third quarter.
Cody Reed then scored on an 8-yard run, and Anthony Mead's conversion made it 58-0 with 1:13 to play in the third period. Phil Hanley capped Walton's scoring with an 11-yard TD run with 11:18 left.
Ticonderoga avoided the shutout _ which would have marked Walton's 10th this season _ when Steven Lenhart scored on a 1-yard run with 7:37 to play.
"This is a great feeling," Hoover said. "The support that the community has given us and the hard work all the assistant coaches have done all year _ a lot of them are coaching double sports these last few weeks and putting in double-duty. It's a great group to work with and a great bunch of young men to have play football for you."
Quarterback Pat O'Brien earned the sportsmanship award for Walton.

OpponentsQ1Q2Q3Q4Total
Ti 00066
Walton 222016664

Game Statistics
TeamFirst DownsRushesPassingPass YardsFumblesPuntsPenalties
Ti 728-436-18-2423-25-24.86-33

Walton 1952-3701-2-0294-10-0.04-20

Individual Statistics
Walton


Rushing
Evan Boyd: 1-1
Eddie Dickson: 2-3
Richard Fletcher: 18-104, 4 TD
Dan Gehl: 2-2
Phil Hanley: 4-30, 1 TD
Casey Killian: 8-95, 1 TD
Jim MacDonald: 1-4
Anthony Mead: 3-6, 1 TD
Bryant Mead: 2-20
Cody Reed: 2-27, 1 TD
Robbie Rigas: 3-26
Logan Wood: 7-51, 1 TD

Passing (CMP-ATT-INT-YDS)
Patrick O'Brien: 1-2-0-29

Receiving
Sean Knapp: 1-29



Ti

Rushing
Matt Bussey: 2--4
Craig Granger: 1--12
Josh Huestis: 2-3
Steven Lenhart: 10-26, 1 TD
Krys Ross: 8-47
Matt Streeter: 4--19
Passing (CMP-ATT-INT-YDS)
Matt Streeter: 6-17-2-42
Jake Taylor: 0-1-0-0
Receiving
Jesse Clark: 1--3
Evan Glading: 2-28
Josh Huestis: 1-2
Krys Ross: 1-15
Jake Taylor: 1-10


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