MARIETTA — Last year the game was a 48-30 shootout, this year it was more of a defensive battle, but for the second straight year, North Cobb Christian topped Walker, this time by a score of 27-7 Friday night.
The game was played at Pope High School despite being a Walker home game. The installation of Walker’s turf field was not completed in time for the Wolverines’ home opener and a change in venue was necessary.
Walker took the opening possession into the red zone but was unable to come away with points after a failed fourth-and-goal attempt from the 11.
“I really liked that our defense got tested early,” North Cobb Christian coach Mark Hollars said. “And man did they push us. We have the philosophy of bend but don’t break and we bent and we stopped them on the 1-yard line. That was a huge stop, I like the way our kids rallied there.”
North Cobb Christian took the momentum and ran with it, moving the length of the field in 10 plays, all runs out of the triple-option, to take the early lead. Caleb Cannon contributed both big plays on the drive, a 46-yard and a 9-yard run for the opening touchdown.
Cannon carried the load for the Eagles early, running up the middle. He went into the half with 10 carries for 85 yards and added a second touchdown on North Cobb Christian’s second possession from 8 yards out.
“Last week we pitched it and got out on the edge,” Hollars said. “Give Walker credit, they weren’t going to let that happen tonight so the next man stepped up and Caleb Cannon and Kollin Washington both ran hard.”
Walker answered, taking the kickoff and moving the ball in big chunks on the ground through Keon Smart, who rushed for 44 yards on the drive. Parker Cook scored on the ground from 15 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-7
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Walker coach Matt Casper said. “You’re never sure how a group of kids are going to respond and they played for each other. I’m proud of them and it’s going to be something to build on.”
The Wolverines tried an onside kick but failed to recover, setting up the Eagles for a quick strike from 42 yards when Ryan Pruitt took an option pitch and won the race to the edge to restore a 14-point North Cobb Christian lead. The Eagles added a field goal to take a 24-7 lead into the half.
The second half turned into a defensive struggle as North Cobb Christian scored the half’s only points on a field goal.
“It takes some time to adjust (to the triple-option),” Casper said. “I’m the first half, they executed so well, it was really difficult and took us some time. In the second half we started to adjust but we just couldn’t dial up the right call at the right time.”
Walker quarterback Charlie Condon finished 15 of 21 for 122 yards and an interception. Keon Smart rushed for 65 yards in the first half and then carried the ball only once in the second. Andrew Smith picked up the majority of the second-half carries, running for 33 yards on eight attempts.
Jake Tasman had six catches for 71 yards for Walker. For North Cobb Christian, Pruitt caught one of only four completed passes for the Eagles and took it 40 yards. He also rushed four times for 52 yards including the 42 yard touchdown.
North Cobb Christian Quarterback Anson Mathis threw only five times for 71 yards and he added 59 yards on the ground.
“This is two weeks in a row where our kids just respond,” Hollars said. “That’s some stuff we can definitely build off of. It’s early in the season, there are still mistakes we’re making that we have to clean up. I think our kids work hard and I like the way they’re growing and developing.”