O. P. Walker overpowers Rams

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 1, 2011


Special to L’Observateur

Powered by a spectacular passing performance from senior quarterback Devin Powell, Class 4A O. Perry Walker toppled Class 1A West St. John Friday in a convincing 44-6 road victory. Rams head coach Robert Valdez, however, wasn’t as disappointed by the final score as he was by his team’s late-game effort.

“I really want to see our kids compete a little better,” Valdez said. “I think we were at that point where we got overwhelmed and just decided that they were good. But you can’t do that against anyone you play. I thought we would compete a lot better. It doesn’t matter what class level you’re playing. You can’t make any excuses. You’ve got to try to make plays.”

Junior fullback Kylum Favorite led WSJ (3-2) on the ground with 55 yards on 15 carries, but the Rams struggled to pick up yardage, especially in the first half. The Chargers defense held its opponents without a first down through the first two quarters.

West St. John’s defense held Walker (2-1) mostly in check through the first quarter, but with 3:27 remaining, Powell threw his first touchdown pass to senior receiver Mizell Clark. Powell found open receivers all night against the Rams, completing 13 of 21 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns.

“Devin Powell had a great game,” Chargers head coach Emmanuel Powell said. “He’s had two really good weeks in a row. This year is his time to shine, and he’s stepping up to the plate and being a leader.”

All four of Powell’s scoring tosses went for at least 18 yards or more, and two were more than 50 yards long. Valdez said that the WSJ defense struggled to corral O. Perry Walker’s speed.

“They’re so explosive,” he said. “O.P Walker’s offense is so explosive, so we have to really had to do a couple of things,” he said. “We needed to keep their offense off the field or try to score ourselves.”

The Rams, however, struggled to put a drive together, collecting just eight yards of total offense in the first half. Walker put up two more scores in the second quarter, as receiver Raymond Jackson caught touchdown passes of 18 and 53 yards respectively. The ensuing successful two-point conversions put the Chargers ahead 24-0 at halftime. Jackson finished the game with three receptions for 103 yards.

On its first drive of the third quarter, West St. John’s offense finally picked up some steam. Favorite picked up a first down with a 13-yard run on the first play. He picked up 21 more yards two plays later, and after a Walker personal foul penalty, the Rams found themselves with a first-and-10 at the Chargers 14-yard line.

After three unsuccessful attempts to pick up a first down, Valdez elected to trust sophomore quarterback Austin Howard to convert on fourth down. Howard rewarded Valdez’s trust with a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide open senior receiver Jarius Moll in the back of the end zone. The touchdown, coupled with a failed two-point conversion, turned out to be WSJ’s only score of the night and left the Rams down 24-6.

It came on a seven-play, 77-yard drive which included five of West St. John’s eight first downs. Howard finished the night 4 of 8 for 27 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

“There were some little things that happened throughout the night,” Valdez said. “When you play people like this, you have to capitalize when you have the opportunity.”

O. Perry Walker cruised to victory afterward, scoring once on a six-yard run by halfback Anthony Scott in the third quarter and two more times in the fourth quarter. Valdez believed that though the loss was lopsided, it provided the Rams with valuable experience as they head into district play.

“The big thing that we’re going to take away from this is that it gave us the chance to evaluate some players before district,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re going to see anybody the rest of the way that was the caliber that Walker was, but it gives us something to go back and work on.”

West St. John begins District 8-1A play against Ascension Christian 7 p.m. Friday at home.