Battle of region unbeatens quickly turns Walton’s way
by William Bretherton
wbretherton@mdjonline.com
October 29, 2011 02:35 AM | 3956 views | 27 27 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marietta at Walton

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MARIETTA — Walton put another exclamation point on its season Friday with a dominant 42-14 win over Marietta on Friday at Raider Valley, clinching the Raiders the Region 5AAAAA championship.

Eighth-ranked Walton (9-0, 5-0) controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football from beginning to end, and, as coach Rocky Hidalgo put it, played Walton football.

“We want to be physical,” he said. “We want people to try and match our physicality and challenge other teams to do it. I think our kids really accepted the challenge here (Friday). This was a game that we wanted to come out and dominate.

“We didn’t want to come out and win. We talked about dominating this football game physically at the line of scrimmage and forcing this team to play our style of game, which is some head crunching and some teeth rattling.”

Walton has won its last 13 regular-season games dating back to a loss to Etowah last in Sept. 24, 2010. That loss also was the difference between the Raiders winning and losing a region championship.

This year, however, the Raiders beat Etowah 34-17, in what has been Walton’s closest margin of victory all season.

“It’s always nice to win something,” Hidalgo said. “We like to play when something is on the line. We preached from the moment this team came out in July. We talked about winning a region title. We returned 16 starters and felt like we had a great football team coming in.”

Walton outgained Marietta (4-5, 4-1) by a 418-118 margin in total yardage, which might have been worse if not for a modified running clock in the third quarter, and then a true running clock in the fourth. At the end of the first half, the Raiders had outgained Marietta 357-72.

Walton running back Tyren Jones finished with 157 yards on 17 carries for four touchdowns — three rushing and one receiving. Quarterback Parker McLeod finished with only five pass attempts, but he completed four, and two went for touchdowns. He finished with 132 passing yards, all in the first half.

“I feel like this is, probably, the most versatile offense we have had here,” Hidalgo said. “Our quarterback is as good a quarterback as there is out there. A lot of people don’t realize that, because we don’t throw the ball a lot, but he is one of the most poised kids I have seen in the pocket. He can make all of the throws, and he’s a really tough kid.

“If you want to come down and take our running game and put eight or nine guys down there (in the box), then it’s going to be a long night because of the things he can do with the football.”

Although Walton certainly controlled the line of scrimmage, Marietta may feel that the game’s momentum changed completely on one play early in the first quarter.

On the Blue Devils’ first play from scrimmage, quarterback Anthony Jennings found wide receiver Tyree Harris on a 40-yard screen pass down the far side of the field. The Blue Devils earned another 15 yards for a late hit on Jennings, but the result of the play was damaging for Marietta. Jennings hobbled off the field favoring his right leg, and didn’t return to the game.

“It doesn’t change anything for us,” Hidalgo said. “At the end of the day, we don’t worry about that. We have to go out and play and execute. It’s unfortunate that he got injured, and I know that was the first or second play of the game.

“I’m sure that (Marietta) coach (Scott Burton) is disappointed because he felt like he would change the game, but he doesn’t play defense. (On Friday), it was all about our offense and our running game, and that’s what we wanted to make it about.”

It wasn’t all bad news for the Blue Devils. In the second half, they shut out Walton 14-0. Harris returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, and Ro’Mello Porter ran 22 yards to complete a five-play drive.

“I love our kids so much because of the resolve and fight that they have,” Burton said. “Obviously, we didn’t expect this, but we asked them to fight in the second half and win the second half. And I was proud that our family came together in the second half and came out and won the second half 14-0.”

Though the loss snapped Marietta’s four-game winning streak, and left the Blue Devils with the region’s No. 2 seed, they will still hold home-field advantage when the playoffs begin in two weeks.

For Walton, it wasn’t all good news. Senior Jim Hogue, a two-way player at linebacker and running back, was injured on a carry in the third quarter and could be seen favoring his left ankle coming off the field.

“Hopefully, it’s just a high ankle sprain, and he will be back with us in a couple of weeks,” Hidalgo said. “Two things I am disappointed about were getting him banged up and the blocked punt.”
Comments
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thanksforasking
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November 08, 2011
Skip, thank you for asking about Jim Hogue, the recipient of a helmet to the leg. Some could even argue that it was a little late, similar to the hit on the Marietta QB, but most of us understand that this is part of football and don't start attackign coaches, their football program and their morals.

Jim ended up with a spiral fracture to his fibula and had surgery a week ago today. They had to put in a plate and screws. He's invaluable to our team; 2-way starter and team captain. A huge loss for Walton.
Skip Housemani
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November 08, 2011
How is Hogues high ankle sprain.
anonymous
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November 05, 2011
Hey Raider Tater! Bring on the poo poo flavored popsicle because it must be a favorite flavor of ours. You must be a jealous Pope or Lassiter person because you sure aren't a part of the Walton fan base. It's been said before that Rocky isn't out to win a popularity contest, and not just by you. That's not his job. His job is to win football games and he does that very well. He was successful as a defensive coordinator and is successful as a head coach.

So what is your job? Can we come to your place of work and criticize you and jump to the erroneous conclusion that you aren't a role model. Or are you so miserable in your life and job that you need to degrade others. How sad for you.
Raider Taters
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November 04, 2011
Mr Hidalgo is about as popular as a poo poo flavored popsicle. That said, his Raiders are winning. He is not trying to win a popularity contest. He is not trying to be a role model. He is trying to win football games by all means necessary. He is 9-0 so obviously he is accomplishing what he set out to do. Listen to his interviews. He finds a way to motivate his players by enticing them with a reason to play. He will bring in other players from other teams and play them in front of players who have built the program. As long as the Walton program gets the "W" he looks happy.

If you don't like it then go play for Roswell where winning doesn't matter any more.
Old LB
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November 02, 2011
"Stop whining" We all wish you would get out from behind your computer and return to the elementary school playground where you were obviously abused.

stop whining
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November 01, 2011
"Old LB": I'm 100% convinced that you were a terrible linebacker. Linebackers and defensive players in general are SUPPOSED to hit and should be coached to do so. Did you play LB in flag football?....YOU DID, DIDN'T YOU??? That explains everything.
Not A Hidalgo Fan
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November 01, 2011
What happened to the profanity-laced Hidalgo post-game talk to Walton's players that was posted on Walton's official football website on Saturday?
Old LB
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November 01, 2011
Being an old LB and having played dirty in the day it wasn't long into the game that it was clear to me that the players were "coached" to play this way.

The shot to Jennings was cheap and extremely late. Just look at any film. The backup QB took some dirty shots too.

It is truly a shame because Walton has a talented team that should not have to resort to playing this way.

What goes around comes around. Coach Hidalgo types are pathetic.
concussion
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November 01, 2011
Big Blue, it's apparent you never took the 2 minutes to watch the replay so keep believing the myth you've created. And I'll bet you a dollar that Jennings is playing Friday night against Cherokee for you Senior Night. You really should stop pampering your players because you'll embarrass them.
Big Blue Fan
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October 31, 2011
Don't you just hate stupidity. Get your facts straight. Jennings was pulled due to helmet to helmet contact which turned out to be a concussion. They had to pull him automatically, even if he wanted play; which he did. The celebrating on the sideline was him being a leader and trying to the team spirits up. Now, I'm not stupid, I saw the game and I know football. Walton was the stronger team and it looked like we would lose with or without him, but his presence could have it a more respectable game.
Long time Mariettan
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October 31, 2011
No one seems to be able to state the obvious...Jennings or no, Marietta was and is no match for Walton.
playwithintensity
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October 31, 2011
Hey 'footballobserver', was Tyren Jones 'ineligible' this past spring when he was enrolled in Walton and a member of the Walton track team? Take a second to check your facts before spewing such nonsense. The GHSA does follow up on move-ins and transfers and just busted Dalton HS and made them forfeit 4 wins. This will now break their 51-year state record of most consecutive winning seasons.

It's too bad that the QB was injured and hopefully he'll be back for this Friday and the playoffs. Something tells me he could've returned but didn't want any more of the hard hitting Raiders. I also saw the chest bumping going on. It was when Marietta scored 14 points against the Walton JV and 'won' the second half.

West Cobb...yes, the majority of the whining comes from losers. The MDJ builds up and glorifies all Marietta HS sports teams and never mentions when they're whiny brats and poor sports.

Big Blue, 'well after the whistle was blown'? You're going to be embarrassed for that statement when you watch the replay on the Walton football website. We'll hold our breath for your retraction.

To 'Bleed Stupidity': Many of us parents have sons who play for Coach Hidalgo and have great respect for him. Is Rocky all warm and fuzzy and an approachable guy like Ed Dudley? Not by a long shot. You really can't have it both ways. Either a program wants to work hard and play with passion and intensity from kick off until the final whistle, or they don't. We'd like to win a state championship for Cobb County
sassy britches
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October 31, 2011
Fan of the Game...The Wheeler play that you are talking about was not a personal foul for a late hit, it was an unsportsmanlike penalty because the kids were celebrating a big hit like ALL football players do after big hits. Like other people have said...These kids play hard and at full throttle. When teams are like that, sometimes its hard to throttle down. Maybe that is why they are so good on defense. Nobody wants to intentionally injure anyone. BTW, Wheeler had some choice personal fouls in that game also.
Fan of the game....
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October 31, 2011
obviously nobody wants Walton's coaching staff to be encouraging late hits but they're definitely not discouraging them by sending the offender right back on the field in multiple games. for example, at wheeler a late hit by multiple players was called and they injured the starting running back on that play. I watched the coach slap the entire defense's helmets as to say keep it up and good job . So i personally think Walton's coach is a jerk and a dirty coach for this great game.
West Cobb Resident
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October 31, 2011
Have you noticed that the whining always comes from the losers?
Was there
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October 30, 2011
The QB must not be hurt all that bad, I saw him do a couple of chest bumps after MHS scored their two late touchdowns against the JV.
Big Blue
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October 30, 2011
To A Longtime HS Coach - it wasn't a case of an unblocked player - the player purposefully charged the quarterback well after a pass was thrown.
stop whining
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October 30, 2011
First off, I want to say that I hope Anthony Jennings is ok and will be able to play the rest of the season. Despite being a Walton fan, I would love nothing more than to see Marietta get some playoff wins and Jennings is an exciting player to watch. The staff at Walton does a phenomenal job coaching it's players to play to the whistle on every play. #51 is a very aggressive player who loves to hit but to suggest that the Walton coaches would encourage late hits is disgusting and pathetic. I was not at the game so I wanted to watch the replay of that play before I commented. It was definitely a late hit but it was no more than a second late. If you've ever played the game (which, judging by the crying and whining, maybe you haven't) then you know that things happen way faster down on the field in the heat of the action than they seem when you're watching from the stands or on a streaming webcast. "football observer": If Tyren is ineligible, then I'm sure Walton will have to forfeit their wins but I'm pretty sure he is. Also, what exactly did he do or say on his show that has you thinking he is 'unsportsmanlike' or 'classless'? Coach Hidalgo has nothing but the greatest respect for Walton's opponents and their coaches. "Walton Coaches?": they DO NOT encourage late hits but it would be idiotic, in my opinion, for any coach NOT to encourage 'over the top intensity'. It's football. "Go Big Blue": after reading your comments, I am 100% certain you've never played the game. The hit on Jennings was late as I've already stated but #51 is an aggressive player and made the next two tackles after that play. Somebody (or maybe 2 guys) should have blocked him. "BigBlueCaddy": congrats to you for not whining. I really wish that Jennings had not been hurt and was able to play the whole game. He's an incredibly exciting player and the game would have been much more interesting if he were in there. I wish him a very speedy recovery and would love nothing more than to see the Blue Devils pick up some playoff wins. "WaltonForLife": you are especially pathetic. Crawl back into your hole. It's not the coaches fault you weren't good enough to get any playing time when you were there. Man up. There's more to life than football...just find something you're good at and try to be the best you can be. "the_patrick": um, ok. After the game I'm sure coach Hidalgo was happy and proud of his team for winning a region championship. The reporter probably asked him if he thought the Jennings injury was a reason why Walton won so easily which is why he said something about the fact that he didn't play defense.
Bleed Stupidity
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October 30, 2011
Can someone post something good about Coach Hidalgo? I don't see anyone coming to his defense. I have friends at Walton (whose players are stars) and they cannot say anything nice about the guy. I thought it might be sour grapes because Walton wins so much but now I am inclined to think differently.

A long time HS coach
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October 30, 2011
Nobody on Walton's coaching staff encourages late hits or wishes any injuries for our opponents. Walton does play a physical brand of football. That is what is required to win a state championship. When you run a spread offense, you will leave people unblocked and your QB will get hit.
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