The team that put up 416 total yards against the Warriors’ defense — including another 202 from tailback K.K. Brooks — is probably the one Hidalgo wants heading into next week’s game at archrival Lassiter.
“We’ve been two different teams through our first four games,” Hidalgo said. “We played better (Friday). We’ve got the makings of a great football team, but it’s up to these kids out here to decide who they want to be.”
For the Raiders (3-2, 2-0 Region 5AAAAAA), it wasn’t just a matter of two different teams, but two different halves. Walton seemed to have been in a defensive slugfest early, leading just 3-0 after one quarter and just 10-0 late in the first half.
Cherokee (2-3, 0-2) was marching when a screen pass to Blake Johnston netted 26 yards and put the Warriors in opposing territory. Quarterback Spencer Ashley had more yardage on a deep post on the very next snap, but his receiver’s drop took a generous bounce into the hands of Walton’s Taquar Stewart.
The Raiders would capitalize with Brooks’ second touchdown run of the night to pad a 17-0 halftime lead.
Brooks stole the show in the third quarter, scoring on runs of 42 and 45 yards to start a scoring barrage that put any chances of a Warrior comeback to rest.
Brooks carried 27 times (7.48 yards per carry) and finished with four total touchdowns. He also got some help from Ben Hood, who had the game’s longest touchdown run when he scampered 55 yards for Walton’s final touchdown late in the third quarter.
“That’s who we are,” Hidalgo said. “We want to line up and run the ball. We want to take our toll on people. Sometimes, offensively, it takes time to exert your will. I think that happened in the third quarter for us. We challenged our kids at halftime to go out there and run the football and grind the game out.”
Cherokee coach Josh Shaw was hard-pressed to make optimistic comments after the game.
“I’m disappointed. Obviously, we didn’t play very well,” Shaw said.
“We weren’t lining up in position to begin with, and you can’t let athletes like that get out in space and they took advantage of it.”
Walton quarterback Price Wilson had a modest evening, missing on a handful of throws while going 10-of-19 for 148 yards and no passing touchdowns or turnovers.
Cherokee’s bright spot was sophomore Brittain Brown, who entered the game to start the third quarter and helped lead an authoritative scoring drive. He finished with 39 yards on six carries.
“He’s been playing more on defense because of an injury,” Shaw said of Brown. “He played well (Friday).”