Daily Mountain Eagle, Ron Harris
HOMEWOOD — Walker’s Isiah Cox showed up and showed out Friday night.
The sophomore returned two kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns and rushed for another score in the Vikings’ lopsided 64-14 win over John Carroll Catholic Friday night in Homewood.
The win, which also served as the Class 6A, Region 5 opener, was the first of the season for Walker (1-1 overall, 1-0 region).
Cox returned kickoffs for 75 and 65 yards, took back a punt 76 yards and ran for a 17-yard score to pace Walker’s offense in the win. Cox finished the night with five carries for 61 yards.
Quarterback Jackson Holladay completed 6 of 9 passes for 90 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He rushed four times for 23 yards.
Marlon Oliver led Walker’s rushing attack with nine carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
Myron Mitchell had two receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown.
The win comes after Walker lost its season opener 17-14 to Pell City two weeks ago. The Vikings were off last week.
“There’s no doubt the week off helped us. We corrected some mistakes we made in that first game, got some guys healed up and just got back to work,” Walker coach Heath Brunner said after Friday’s win. “We made a lot of mistakes in that first game, and to get back on the field tonight was really good. Our guys competed hard, and I’m really proud of them.”
Walker jumped out to a quick lead in the first quarter on Cox’s first touchdown of the night on a 17-yard run less than a minute into the game. Brayden Banks’ PAT made it 7-0.
Oliver made it 13-0 with a nine-yard touchdown run with 8:07 left in the first quarter.
John Carroll (0-2, 0-1) got on the board with 1:41 to go in the quarter when Matthew Byers picked off a Holladay pass and returned it 60 yards for a score to cut Walker’s lead to 13-7.
Walker’s next score came with 7:40 to go in the first half when Holladay and Mitchell connected for a 71-yard touchdown pass. Cox added the two-point conversion for a 21-7 lead.
The Vikings’ got a safety to stretch their lead to 23-7 three minutes later, and Cox returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a 30-7 lead with 3:46 left in the half.
Oliver got his second score of the night with a 15-yard run with 1:37 remaining in the half.
Walker led 37-7 at halftime.
“This week, I told the guys it wasn’t about the competition,” Brunner said, “it was about the Walker Vikings getting back to our winning ways. After that first loss, we knew tonight we needed this first win. This was more about the black and gold tonight.”
John Carroll got its only other points of the night with 8:19 left in the third quarter when Michael Hankes ran for a 3-yard score to cut the Vikings’ lead to 37-14.
After that, it was all Walker.
Cox returned the ensuing kick 65 yards for a touchdown and a 44-14 lead with 7:19 to go in the third quarter, and less than three minutes later Cox took a punt back 76 yards for a 51-14 lead.
“We kind of knew going in that Cox was a special player,” Brunner said, “but he had 10 guys around him to block that make him pretty good, too. But he finished when he needed to, and I’m real proud of him, as well as all the guys.”
Backup quarterback Ethan Walker ran for a 27-yard touchdown and a 58-14 lead with 7:17 left in the game, and Jayvon Oliver scored Walker’s final points with a 19-yard run with 1:54 to go.
Alex Medina led Walker defensively with 11 tackles. Garrett Davenport had 10 tackles and John Michael Reed had an interception for Walker, which plays its first home game of the season next Friday against Minor.