Walker’s playmakers took center stage Friday night.
Isiah Cox stepped up first with a 90-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and Jarrod Ollie followed with a 90-yard kickoff return to open the second half as Walker earned a 24-14 win over Hueytown in the Class 6A, Region 5 finale at Ki-Ro Gambrell Field.
With the win, Walker clinched the No. 2 spot in the region behind Homewood.
The Vikings, who are a perfect 4-0 at home this season, will play a first-round playoff game at home against Decatur in two weeks.
“It’s our first year in 6A and we get second in the region. Playing at home (in the playoffs) is huge,” Walker coach Heath Brunner said. “We are 13 points away from being undefeated. I’m really proud of our guys and the coaches for the work they’ve put in all year.”
Walker (6-3, 5-2) turned a blocked punt into three points in the first quarter on a Chris McKellar 35-yard field goal at the 8:21 mark.
Walker’s defense set the tone later in the first quarter, avoiding a potentially costly miscue.
Following a bad snap on a punt, Hueytown got the ball at the Vikings’ 10-yard line. The Golden Gophers got as close as the 1-yard line only to be stuffed on a fourth-down play.
Walker’s offense made the Golden Gophers pay.
Four plays later, Cox took the handoff and found a hole up the middle. Once past the front line, he went 90 yards untouched to end zone for the score and a 10-0 lead just seconds into the second quarter.
Hueytown got on the board with 4:14 left in the opening half on a 1-yard run by quarterback Michael Simpson to cut the gap to 10-7 at the half.
To open the third quarter, Walker seized the momentum when Ollie took the kickoff and raced 90 yards down the sidelines for the score and pushing the lead to 17-7.
The Golden Gophers didn’t threaten again.
Ollie filled in for Cox, who went down with an injury in the first half.
“You know Jarrod Ollie has been wanting to return kicks since he was in the ninth grade. I remember him asking me to return kicks back then,” Brunner said. “He did a heck of a job and the guys up front did a great job. He hit a crease. I didn’t realize he was that fast. He got in the end zone in a hurry.
“With Isiah going down, he stepped right in and did a really good job for us. Jarrod is a big-time player.”
Walker punched in another touchdown with 15 seconds on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Jackson Holladay to Myron Mitchell to push the lead to 24-7.
Ollie struck again early in the fourth quarter, this time on defense, recovering a fumble following a Walker punt. The recovery allowed Walker to run three minutes off the clock.
Hueytown’s final score came on a Simpson 8-yard run with 3:52 left in the game.
For Walker, Ollie had eight tackle and the fumble recovery to go with his kickoff return. Sawyer Smith led the team with 13 tackles and Alex Medina had eight.
Offensively, both Marlon Oliver and Cox topped the century mark on the ground. Oliver rushed 25 times for 109 yards while Cox had 104 yards and a score on six carries. Cox also hauled in a pass for 15 yards.
The game featured the return of former Walker defensive coordinator Scott Mansell, who is now the interim head coach at Hueytown. The Golden Gophers (3-7, 2-5) wrapped up their season Friday.
Walker closes out the regular season against Northridge (5-4) on Thursday.