The Region 6A (B) subregion title will be at stake when Walker hosts Whitefield tonight.
It will be the first region matchup between Walker and Whitefield, which have faced one another in non-region contests in their previous 10 meetings.
The game also marks the first matchup between Wolfpack coach Jimmy Fields and his former boss, first-year Walker coach John East, who was previously the athletic director at Whitefield Academy.
“Coach East is a great coach and his connection with Whitefield makes it special,” Fields said. “Coach East’s sons, Jack and Thomas, played for me at Whitefield, so there is a connection there and that makes this great fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
It is also a special game for East, who cherishes his ties with Whitefield.
“I was at Whitefield for awhile and my wife still teaches there,” East said. “My kids went to Whitefield, so this game is special for me. I love what I’m doing now and I love the kids that I’m coaching at Walker, but I still have fond memories of Whitefield.”
East said his squad has been eagerly anticipating the game all season.
“It’s a critical game for us — there’s no doubt,” East said. “The guys are looking forward to it. They’ve been looking forward since the opening practice of the season. It’s always a big game for us and this year is no different.”
With both teams tied at 4-0 in subregion play, the game will likely decide who will be 6A (B) champion.
Walker (7-0, 4-0) appears to be in the driver’s seat as far as securing a state playoff berth — only the second for the school in it’s 12-year varsity football history and first since 2005. The Wolverines are currently 10th in the Class A private-school power matrix.
“It all depends on the power ranking, so winning the subregion and region is the best way to get in,” East said. “There’s no guarantee that we will get in. With the power ranking, every single game is crucial and that’s a good thing. The guys are doing a good job this year. We’ve been focusing only on the next game all year and right now, we’re focused on Whitefield.”
Whitefield (5-2, 4-0) is also in strong shape in its quest for a postseason bid with a No. 18 ranking in the Class A power matrix. The Wolfpack are aiming for their first state playoff appearance since ’09.
This is certainly a game that Fields and his team are looking forward to as well.
“It’s always a tough, very good game,” Fields said. “Walker is a great school and we have a great rivalry, especially now that we’re in the same region. Walker is having a great season and both of us are tied for first place in the subregion, so it has the makings of a great game.”
The Whitefield defense faces the task of trying to contain a potent Walker offense, led by running back Evan Kasian, that averages 39 points a game.
“They present so many challenges for us,” Fields said. “Evan Kasian is an outstanding player on both sides of the ball — not just on offense, but also on defense. They are a very physical team, especially on the line. It’s going to be a great game and we’re looking forward to it.”
The challenge for East and his Wolverine defense is to slow down Whitefield’s offense, led by running back Richard Sherrell (695 yards, seven touchdowns).
“Coach Fields is doing a great job there,” East said. “They have a new offense and a new defense and they’re very versatile on both sides of the ball.”