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WEEK FIVE FOOTBALL Walker nearly a one-man show as Norwalk roughs up Cerritos

By Loren Kopff

While it’s hard for anyone to forget the accomplishments that former Norwalk wingback Rashaad Penny performed over the past three seasons, junior running back Chris Walker is doing his best to create his own feats in 2014. Filling in the shoes of the great Penny, who is now at San Diego State University, is hard for anyone to do.

But through the first six games of the season, Walker is doing just fine. He rushed for 124 yards on six carries, scored twice on the ground, caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Ausencio Navarro and returned the second half opening kickoff 80 yards to the house as the Lancers crushed Cerritos 62-8 last Friday on homecoming night at Excelsior Stadium.

“There was definitely a lot of pressure filling in the shoes of Penny,” Walker said. “A lot of people ask me, ‘how do you think you’ll do now that Penny is gone’? Honestly, Penny was a great running back. But I know I’m going to run as hard as I can and when I run as hard as I can, I think I can be as good as Penny someday.”

Walker scored his two rushing touchdowns in the first quarter, a 16-yard run a little over five minutes into the game, and a 40-yard jaunt with 3:28 left in the stanza. On the first play of the second quarter, sophomore fullback Jordan Thomas cashed in from five yards out to make it 21-0 and following the fourth straight Cerritos punt, Walker caught his touchdown.

Norwalk (4-2 overall, 2-0 in the Suburban League) would score twice more before halftime. First, Navarro connected with senior Tyrant Davis who broke off a pair of would-be tackles and scored from 30 yards out. Then with 15.5 seconds remaining, sophomore running back Carlos Jaurequi scored on a 16-yard run to give the hosts a 42-0 halftime advantage.

Norwalk already had 311 yards in the first half while holding the Dons (0-4, 0-1) to 55 yards and forcing them to punt five times. Cerritos never reached midfield in the first half and had four first downs. It was the type of performance that the Norwalk defense needed coming off a 21-13 road win at Mayfair the week before, a game that wasn’t decided until senior David Laugheed intercepted a pass in the final seconds as the Monsoons were driving for a potential game-tying score. In that game, Walker was held to 58 yards on 17 carries.

“It was a little disappointing, but we were making a transition trying to do our pass plays,” Walker said of the game against Mayfair. “We were having fun with it. I think that was just a learning experience and I don’t think it will happen again.”

“We considered this a bounce back victory because we know the potential that we have as a team and last week we didn’t fulfill our potential,” said senior tight end and defensive tackle Dillon Faamatau. “This should be a statement to the Suburban League to note that it wasn’t just one man last year who made the team [what it was]. It was a team effort and it’s the same this year as well.”

With the running clock being used in the second half, Jaurequi scored on a three-yard run to increase the score to 56-0. Then on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Dons finally crossed midfield for the first time and added more to that as senior running back Kory Boyd rushed 69 yards for the lone Dons touchdown.

The final Norwalk touchdown came on a 10-yard run from junior running back Joseph Armas. But the night belonged to Walker and the defense. Walker now leads the Lancers with 780 yards on 107 carries and has scored nine touchdowns on the ground, plus the one receiving and one return.

“I just ran as hard as I could,” Walker said. “My blocking couldn’t have been better. There’s nothing more I could really ask for. When the blocking is perfect, I’m running hard. That’s what happens.”

On defense, junior outside linebacker Kirk Brown had four tackles while Faamatau added another three. In the last five meetings against Cerritos, Norwalk has allowed 23 points to the Dons and posted a pair of shutouts. In addition, Norwalk found what it was like to be on the other side of the double wing offense, something Cerritos has been running the past two and a half seasons. Boyd would lead Cerritos with 78 yard on seven carries while senior quarterback Ki’Jon Washington added another 52 yards on 16 rushes. Five other Cerritos players would combine for 30 yards on 17 carries.

“To me it was fun.” Faamatau said of playing against the double wing offense. “We just came out and dominated because we know the offense. We were molded by the offense. So coming into this game, we were like, this is our stuff. We know how to stop it and we know how to use it.

“There are only two differences,” Faamatau continued. “One is they have an offset fullback and the second difference is we run [it] more aggressive.”

Norwalk, which began the season as the second-ranked team in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Southeast Division poll but has since slipped four spots down, is off tonight before visiting Artesia on Oct. 17. The Lancers have now won 10 straight games (nine on the field) against the Dons, who will host Artesia tonight.

“Our coach tells us, ‘don’t underestimate any team’,” Walker said. “We always have to come out there thinking [our opponent] is St. John Bosco. We have play like every team is St. John Bosco in order for us to put up a good fight. And I think that’s what we did today-we put up a real good fight because we haven’t been playing our best the past couple of games. But today, I felt like we stepped it up.”