Big Foot senior second-team all-state on offense, defense
Not that the head coach
didn’t know Walker brought impressive ability to the Chiefs’ bid for a banner season, but it went beyond that.
“Sometimes, there’s just athleticism you just can’t coach that makes you look pretty smart, and Mike has been one of those guys,’’ Wedig told the Gazette before Big Foot began its 2009 WIAA playoff run. “He’s the best pure athlete I’ve coached.”
That showed in Big Foot’s surge to the Division 4 state title and a 14-0 season, and it has earned Walker second-team honors as a running back and defensive back in The Associated Press All-State selections.
Walker isn’t alone, however, in carrying Rock Valley Conference prestige to a high level. He is joined in the media’s all-state picks by Rock South rival Brodhead/Juda’s senior standout, Ethan Douglas, who has received honorable mention as a linebacker.
If there was any doubt about Walker’s place among the state’s elite, he delivered the ultimate proof with a dynamic performance in Big Foot’s dazzling 42-13 victory over previously unbeaten Kewaunee in last Thursday’s state finals at Camp Randall Stadium. The 5-10, 195-pound senior had a five-touchdown spectacle that included 29 rushing attempts for 255 yards and 309 yards in total offense.
Walker’s touchdowns set a Division 4 state championship game record and tied the all-time mark for all divisions in the state finals.
“Our school record for rushing touchdowns in a season was 13, and he had 14 in the playoffs alone,’’ Wedig said. “He was really the one who kept us going, and not just in scoring touchdowns.
“He was light-hearted when we needed to relax. He was all business when he needed to be, and that championship game was the capper of his career—just an impressive display.’’
Walker, who became renowned for turning broken or seemingly stopped plays into almost unbelievable gains, finished his high school offensive career with a school-record 412 points. While operating behind an exceptional line, he scored 36 touchdowns this season, including 28 on the ground, while rushing for a school record 1,890 yards, catching 21 passes for 421 yards and going over the 5,200 mark in all-purpose career yards.
“Michael was good as a sophomore and just kept getting better,’’ Wedig said. “He could get to the outside, or he could lower his shoulder and go into the line, and he’d make the plays you’d never think would get any yardage.’’
While it all added up to big yardage and huge point totals, Walker also was a force in the defensive backfield. He played behind a stout defensive line that routinely stopped the opposition, but still got in on a good share of the action, including 54 tackles and six pass interceptions.
And when the Chiefs’ offense didn’t go distance, Walker set up the defense by putting the opposition’s back to the wall. He punted four times for a 40.8-yard average in the state championship game and had a 36.6 average for 34 season punts, including a 70-yard boomer in a third-round playoff game against Ripon.
“I don’t know if he’s the most talented guy we’ve faced, but he’s right up there,” Kewaunee linebacker Alex Schleis said after the state title game, which put the crowning touch on Big Foot’s third straight 9-0 regular season.
Douglas, the Rock South Back of the Year last season, gained everyone’s attention with another big rushing season that reached 1,300 yards. But he told the media he relished his defensive role just as much.
“I like to hit people,” he said after leading the Brodhead/ Juda co-p into its state-record 18th straight playoff appearance. “I’ll go for a shot every time I see I have it.’’
And it paid off in his team’s 9-3 season.
“He’s definitely up there as a player on both sides of the football,’’ Brodhead/Juda coach Jim Matthys said in rating the Cardinals’ all-time best. “He gets most of his ink because of his offense, but I think he’s even better on the defensive side. He may be the most physical player I’ve ever coached.’’