That’s not going to help the Raiders as they gear up for a Parkview defense that’s given up an average of 13 points a game and held defending state champion Grayson to just a touchdown in their 22-7 win over the Rams.
Jones was nearing 2,000 rushing yards for the second straight season when he went down with a sprained knee Nov. 2 against Etowah.
D.J. Smith was Walton’s primary running back in Walton’s 28-24 loss to Roswell last week and rushed for 187 yards. It will still be up to Walton (7-3) to find a way to get it done without Jones and several other Walton players who are hurting in tonight’s first round.
Good news for Walton is that quarterback Parker McLeod is back on the field after missing five straight games with an injury, and he threw for 348 yards against Roswell in his first game back.
The bad news is that backup quarterback Price Wilson went down last week with a sprained knee.
“We’re kind of balancing it out,” Hidalgo said. “We’re losing guys at the same time we’re getting some back.”
There have been as many as 34 injured in the Walton football program as recently as last week, four of them being future Southeastern Conference players. The question is, how many of the injured players will be cleared to play?
The rash of injuries for Walton has mostly occurred on the offensive line and the defensive front seven.
Georgia-bound offensive lineman Brandon Kublanow has missed time and has a shot at playing against Parkview tonight. But Jake Boynton, who committed to Kentucky, is still out with an ankle injury. Nick Randolph has been nursing a knee injury and is not expected to play. Griffin Wilkinson is also missing on the offensive line.
However, the Raiders are expecting defensive end Kyle Whitaker to return after joining the injury list against Roswell. Whitaker, who has 40 tackles and 3.5 sacks, could be a threat for the Parkview backfield.
Walton linebackers Christian Burlock and Imani Parker are also out with injuries.
Even with all the injuries, Walton is still the No. 2 seed out of 5AAAAAA and hosting a playoff game. And without Jones and a couple of marquee linemen, the Raiders still have to find ways to score points.
“Parkview’s defense is the best defense we’ve played all year,” Hidalgo said. “They are athletic on defense and can tackle very well. Our execution will have to improve for us to put points on the board.”
And that starts with the offensive line, Hidalgo said, injured or not.
Walton has gotten solid play up front from a trio of sophomores in David Davis, Jack Henry and John France. Senior Joe Cook has filled in at offensive tackle with Boynton out.