It took Marietta four games to shake off a slow start to the season and play itself into position to challenge for a region championship, but it took Walton less than two quarters to take away any shot the Blue Devils had of winning the title.
The sixth-ranked Raiders completely dominated Marietta at home on Friday, scoring on all six of their first-half possessions and cruising to a 42-14 victory to capture the Region 5-AAAAA championship. It is the first region title since 2008 for Walton (9-0, 5-0), which will be the region’s No. 1 seed and host the fourth-place team from 6-AAAAA in the playoffs in two weeks. Walton will complete the regular season at Woodstock on Friday.
Marietta fell to 4-5 overall and 4-1 in the region. The Blue Devils, who started the season with four consecutive non-region losses to teams that will make the playoffs, will finish in second place in 5-AAAAA. Marietta closes the regular season at home against Cherokee next week.
“Our kids came out and played well,” Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo said. “We understand that this was for the region championship. We talked about that all week long that we were not going to let somebody else come into our house and take that trophy away from us. We had great focus all week long, and I knew we were going to come out and play great tonight. It doesn’t surprise me how we played.”
Tyren Jones ran for 172 yards on 19 carries, all in the first half, and scored four touchdowns to lead Walton. His 4-yard touchdown catch with 2:08 to play in the first quarter gave the Raiders a 14-0 lead, and he ran for TDs of 14, 4 and 56 yards to close out the first half.
Kelly Brooks had a 35-yard touchdown run on Walton’s first possession, and Parker McLeod threw 19 yards to Zack Blaylock for the other score. The Raiders finished the first half with a 366-72 advantage in total offense.
Marietta responded to Walton’s first touchdown with a 40-yard pass from Anthony Jennings to Tyree Harris, and a 15-yard penalty for roughing the quarterback moved the ball to the Walton 25. Jennings was injured on the play, however, and did not return. The Blue Devils’ drive ended at the Walton 11 with an incomplete pass on a fake field goal. Marietta had just 32 yards of total offense the rest of the half after gaining 40 on its first play.
“This was a game we wanted to come out and dominate, we didn’t want to just come out and win,” Hidalgo said. “We wanted to dominate this football game physically at the line of scrimmage and force them to play our type of football game, which is some head crunching and some teeth rattling.”
Marietta – 0-0-7-7 – 14
Walton – 14-28-0-0 – 42
W – Kelly Brooks 35 run (Nathan Dittmer kick)
W – Parker McLeod 4 pass to Tyren Jones (Dittmer kick)
W – McLeod 19 pass to Zack Blaylock (Dittmer kick)
W – Jones 14 run (Dittmer kick)
W – Jones 4 run (Dittmer kick)
W – Jones 56 run (Dittmer kick)
M – Tyree Harris 22 return of blocked punt (Banks Martin kick)
M – Ro’Mello Porter 22 run (Martin kick)