BAKER — Walton High School's talented football team will come calling on Baker School on Friday.
The Braves, who play in District 1-4A, enter the game with a 3-0 record. Walton opened the season with a win over the same Blountstown team that beat Baker 28-21 two weeks ago.
Gator Coach Matt Brunson said Walton is loaded with talent, from the coaching staff down to the players.
“It’s going to be an honor to be on the field with (Walton head coach) Mr. (Jimmy Ray) Stephens,” Brunson said. “Coach Stephens is like a national-type coach. He’s coached at the highest (college) level (the Southeastern Conference) at two of the best schools in the country — Florida and Tennessee.
“They are a spread (offense) team, and they’ve got a great tailback in Azende’ Rey. They run some option and some downhill misdirection type stuff very much like Auburn. But Coach Stephens has done a great job with their offensive package and will keep you on your toes.”
Stephens also led Fort Walton Beach to a state championship in 1991 with quarterback Danny Wuerffel.
Brunson had high praise for Walton's defense.
“They are a 3-4 (three linemen, four linebackers) defensive team, kind of like the old (Pittsburgh) Steeler, ‘The Steel Curtain’ 3-4,” he said. “They are kind of the Walton Curtain run by a very heady Bobby Moore (former head coach at Choctaw). Coach Moore won a state championship in Tuscaloosa and was one of our coaches in the county for a while.
“He did a great job when he was a head coach and he’s done a great job as the defensive coordinator for the Braves.”
Brunson said the Gators (2-1) will need to have a great defensive effort against Walton.
“I’m hoping our best defensive performance will happen this week,” he said. “We have improved each week, but we still have to get better to have a chance against Walton.
“We have to get enough guys to Azende’ to get him down. One guy isn’t going to tackle him. Offensively, we have to keep our defense off the field where they can stay fresh a little bit.”
If Baker’s defense does its job, Brunson thinks the Gators might have a chance to win.
“Our hope is that it would be a low-scoring defensive battle and somebody will win it in the fourth quarter,” he said.
“With Coach Stephens and Azende’, I don’t know if that’s going to be the case.”