Fewer Players Don't Dampen Walton's Spirits
Anderson ready to step in for departed Simmons
Hawken football coach Clifford Walton will tell you that the game’s dictated by numbers – the more players you have, the better off you are to endure the season’s inevitable injuries.
The Hawks don’t have a lot of guys this season, and with some untimely injuries, the team’s numbers have been heading in the wrong direction and the season hasn’t even started yet.
After running back Khari Anderson took a helmet-to-helmet blow in a scrimmage with Beachwood on Friday night, Walton’s heart undoubtedly leapt for a moment. Thankfully, Anderson was OK and scored a crucial touchdown in overtime.
With the season opening this Friday at home against Western Reserve Academy, going down another player – especial your star, no less – would’ve been a nightmare.
“We’re hoping we don’t lose anybody else, and we get some back. We've got some talented kids, we just can’t get anybody hurt,” Walton said.
Walton, who has been Hawken’s head football coach for 32 years, sat down with Mayfield-Hillcrest patch.com for a brief look into the team’s prospects for this season after the team finished 6-4 last year.
How has training camp been going this year?
During the couple weeks so far, we haven’t had a chance to do a lot of full, live tackle scrimmages because we don’t have enough guys to do that. In (grades) 10-12, we have 21 kids, but six of those kids are on the DL (disabled list) right now. So we have 15 kids, 10-12. And we’ve got 13 freshmen, which is good for us and we’re encouraged with that.
Who has stood out to you so far in camp?
We’ve got some very good kids. Joey Marabito is our center. He’s a three-year starter for us. He’s a captain. He’s the anchor of that offensive line. … Ryan Stilson is our other captain, and he’s injured right now. He’s got a bruise on his lung. He got that in the first week. He’s just a kid that came on last year. He’s going to miss our opener. … Mark Murgiano he made that interception and he made that (conversion) catch. And Khari Anderson, you saw some of his runs.
What are your expectations for the season?
(Coming into the season) our numbers are really low and we can’t get anyone hurt. And then Ryan Stilson (gets hurt). We have five or six kids right now that are on the IR (injured reserve). What we said we couldn’t have happen has trickled in here already. … We’re excited about the group because they are talented. We just wish we had a few more.
How are you getting along without All-State performer Jeremy Simmons who graduated after last season?
Khari’s filling in really quite well right now. He has the potential. Will you miss a Jeremy Simmons? Obviously. Khari can make that be a miss, but not a severe miss. We have that expectation.
What’s your favorite food?
It’s my wife’s homemade pizza. She’ll go to Alesci’s (South Euclid) and get the dough. She’ll make barbecue chicken with chipotle sauce on it. … I’m getting hungry right now.