Janesville47.3°

Big Foot's Walker is on quite a run

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Tim Wester/Special to the Gazette
October 26, 2009
— Two years ago as a skinny 165-pound sophomore, Big Foot High running back Michael Walker was certain he wasn't varsity football material.

After all, the varsity featured extra-large players such as 6-5, 300-pound eventual all-state lineman Travis Frederick.


Turns out self-evaluation is the only thing Walker doesn't do well.


Last season, as a junior, the multi-sport athlete led Big Foot to its first-ever WIAA Division 4 football state championship game and then anchored the Chiefs' 400-meter relay team in the state track and field meet in the spring. Between state championship appearances, Walker spent his winter in the gym as a member of the Big Foot basketball team.


"Sometimes there is just athleticism that you just can't coach that makes us look pretty smart, and Mike has been one of those guys," Big Foot football coach Rodney Wedig said. "He's the best pure athlete that I have coached."


Walker also used his athletic ability to rewrite many of the school's individual football records.


The senior runner holds Big Foot records in scoring (308), rushing yards (3,094), rushing attempts (489), rushing touchdowns (37), and all-purpose yards (4,349). Walker also earned first-team all-conference honors on offense, defense and as a punter last season.


This season, Walker has been just as good leading the unbeaten Chiefs to a third straight Rock Valley championship and a No. 1 seed in the Division 4 playoffs. Despite his team's many decisive victories, he has rushed for 1,180 yards—an average of 6.2 a carry and 131 a game—and led the 12-school Rock Valley in scoring with 16 touchdowns and 96 points.


As if that wasn't enough, the talented performer finished his three-year regular-season career with a 27-0 record.


"Its fun just knowing that I'm a part of the big excitement around town lately for the football team the last few years," Walker said. "It's just a really great feeling."


Walker's excitement, however, is tempered by the memory of last year's frustrating 20-0 loss to Wautoma/Faith Christian in state championship game. And that's something the Chiefs aim to set straight, beginning Tuesday night, when they kick off their 2009 playoff bid at home against Lake Mills.


"I think about that loss every day," Walker said. "It motivates me, and I'm pretty sure it motivates the rest of the team to win the state championship."


Walker's fierce determination to return to Madison was evident during an emotional game with eventual Rock Valley North co-champion Jefferson (8-1) earlier this season.


With the game tied at 7-7 midway through the fourth quarter, Walker carried the ball five times during a signature six-play scoring drive, capped by his 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Chiefs a 14-7 lead.


Walker then put the finishing touches on the emotional 14-7 victory by forcing a fumble near midfield that gave the Chiefs' the ball with seconds remaining.


"We lost our composure at times against Jefferson," Walker said. "That fourth quarter was the hardest I've ever run because the thought of losing just sort of kicked in. That game helped us realize that we weren't untouchable and brought us back down to earth."


Walker's mental toughness impressed Wedig.


"I was not only impressed with Mike and the other seniors' physical skills in that Jefferson game, but their mental toughness and leadership," Wedig said. "I don't know if I can point to one game as his breakout because I've been spoiled with him since his sophomore year."


Walker's talent has drawn interest from many colleges, including Wisconsin. The Badgers are certainly familiar with the Big Foot program after Walker's former teammate and Wisconsin freshman Frederick earned the starting nod at center against Northern Illinois.


"I went to a game at Camp Randall Stadium this year, and I went to the locker room after the game, and Travis told me that the coaches said I was doing pretty well," Walker said. "It was neat to hear that from one of the players that the coaches have been talking about me."


But for now, Walker wants his next trip to Camp Randall to be the state championship game.


"I definitely want to be in that victory formation at Camp Randall at the end of this season," Walker said.


Why not? Walker has accomplished just about everything else.



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