Walton

Walton’s Ryan Polinski (8) gets his hands on a pass behind Norcross’ Josh Graham during their game in the Corky Kell Classic at Mercedes Benz Stadium last Saturday. The Raiders will try to carry the momentum of their season-opening win into tonight’s matchup against Collins Hill.

Game: Collins Hill (0-0) at Walton (1-0), 7:30 p.m.

Last year: Walton 29, Collins Hill 25

All-time series: Collins Hill leads 2-1

Prediction: Walton 24, Collins Hill 21

Fresh off its thrilling 21-20 victory over Norcross in the Corky Kell Classic last week, Walton returns to the gridiron tonight to take on Collins Hill at Raider Valley. The contest marks the season opener for the Eagles, who reached the first round of last year’s state playoffs and finished 3-8 on the year.

“We’re expecting to go 1-0 “(tonight),” said Walton coach Daniel Brunner, regarding his expectations for the Raiders against the Eagles. “It’s as simple as that. That’s our focus. This is an opportunity to get better this week.”

Collins Hill gave Walton all it could handle last year with the Raiders taking the four-point victory. The Eagles coaching staff likely took the opportunity to scout Walton’s matchup against Norcross, giving the Eagles a bit of an edge in tonight’s contest. This advantage could come in handy for Collins Hill, considering it’s running a new offense this season.

“Collins Hill gave us a tough game last year, and we can’t expect to sneak up on anybody and get a win,” Brunner said. “They changed their offense from last year, so it’ll be different. But, it’s similar to what Norcross ran last week. Collins Hill has good team speed on both sides of the ball, so this will be another challenging game for us.”

Brunner would like nothing more than to get another solid effort from his team similar to what the Raiders accomplished in the win over Norcross. Defensive standouts Will Chapman, Drew Dewitt and Jeb Carriere played key roles in helping the Raiders rebound from a 20-7 fourth quarter deficit against the Blue Devils to log the victory.

“It was an outstanding effort by our guys,” Brunner said. “Our defense played well the whole game. We gave up some chunk yardage but forced them to go for field goals instead of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and that was big.

“When the game was on the line, guys stepped up when it mattered most. It was really a great team effort, and I’m proud of what they did.

“Now, our seniors get to have their first home game of the season and get things rolling on the home turf. Raider Valley is still under some construction, but guys are ready to rock-and-roll.”

John Bednarowski is the sports editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and the former president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. He can be reached at sportseditor@mdjonline.com or on Twitter @jbednarowski

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