They even have a state championship trophy to prove it.
Yet the Raiders have had issues with continuity at the head coaching position.
The program has never sustained a head coach for longer than three years, and until they hired Griffin Spotz during the offseason, they’ve never had a coach whose forte is lacrosse.
Mostly Walton’s football assistants have taken turns running the program the last few years, allowing community assistant coaches that have lacrosse expertise do most of the teaching and the game planning.
Former Walton football assistant Pat Hall was the longest tenured head coach from 2008 to 2010 and is now on the football assistant at Walker while heading the lacrosse program.
Matt Miller and Bill Bellus coached Walton lacrosse for two years each and both current football head coach Rocky Hidalgo and former head coach Ed Dudley chipped in for a season apiece.
Spotz, Walton’s newest coach, has already shown he can build a program from scratch. He only needed three seasons to turn Duluth from a first-year program to a winning program. Now that he’s at Walton, his challenge will be maintaining an already-established program.
“I’m really excited and feel up to the task,” Spotz said. “I fee like I’ve got the experience over the last three years that has set me up for this. Now that practice has started, I’m anxious to see what we have.”
Spotz will be working with two assistants — T.J. Canada and Jim Satalin — who have been with the Walton program and Kevin Webb, who was a former assistant with the Raiders. Canada will be his offensive coach while Satalin and Webb will help run his JV program as head and assistant coach.
Spotz, who was also a long stick midfielder for the Illinois club lacrosse team, didn’t go into specifics regarding the style of lacrosse he likes to see his team play, but he does preach aggressiveness and hustle.
“My biggest thing is high intensity,” Spotz said. “With the boys, it’s about trying their hardest and doing their best. We want to move the ball quick. The biggest parts of our game is winning the hustle points and the rest will fall into place with our talent level.”
Walton’s state title two years ago came in Miller’s first year. The Raiders finished with an 18-3 overall record, capped by an 8-4 victory over Harrison in the state championship.
But last year’s 7-12 season was a bit deceiving. Seven of those 12 losses came by two points or less, and that included an 9-8 overtime loss in the first round of the state tournament to eventual champion Milton.