Walton at Pope 14.jpeg

Walton will try to move to the state quarterfinals for the first time under coach Daniel Brunner when it faces Archer on Friday.

Game: Walton (7-3) at Archer (7-4), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: First meeting

All-time series: First meeting

Prediction: Walton 24, Archer 20

Walton has reinvented itself for the Class AAAAAAA state playoffs.

Coming off one of their more disappointing performances against Marietta, to end the regular season two weeks ago, the Raiders began the postseason last Friday by displaying one of their finest.

After falling to Colquitt County twice in the playoffs since Daniel Brunner took over in 2017, including last season,Walton arrived at Moultrie well prepared.

All three phases were clicking as the Raiders as they won a one-sided 41-17 victory over the Packers.

Now, Walton is about to find out if it did its homework for a second straight week when it heads to Archer for its second round matchup.

Should Walton prevail, it will be the Raiders’ first trip to the elite eight in Brunner’s five-year tenure.

“This time of year, it’s all about preparation,” Brunner said. “If we prepare right and show up to play, we have a chance moving forward. There are 16 teams left in (Class AAAAAAA). Everyone has a chance to win it.”

Walton jumped on Colquitt early and never looked back, leading 20-3 at the half.

After throwing four picks in last year’s playoff 35-12 loss to Colquitt County, Zak Rozsman had a turnover-free game under center, throwing for 117 yards along with a rushing touchdown.

Defensively, Walton held standout running back Charlie Pace to 18 yards on 12 carries.

If there was one shortcoming against Colquitt County that Walton addressed this week, the Raiders may have left some points out there when they got into the red zone.

Walton has had success this season rotating Rozsman and Jeremy Hecklinski at quarterback this season.

Archer also has two signal callers in Caleb Peevy and William Wallace that have had significant playing time. Peevy, who has appeared in all 11 games, has 864 passing yards and nine touchdowns with Frank Osorio and Derrick Moore as his primary targets.

Defensively is Archer’s strength. After starting theseason 0-4, the Tigers have won seven straight and have allowed only two touchdowns and shut out five opponents during the winning streak.

Last week, Archer beat Alpharetta 46-7 in the opening round.

“They are strong on line of scrimmage and on both sides of the ball,” Brunner said, “and they can stretch you vertically with their receivers.


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