CLAYTON • Try as he might, Tyler Walker couldn’t do it alone.
The Clayton standout running back/wide receiver/strong safety scored three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough as the Greyhounds dropped a 28-21 Suburban East Conference matchup with rival Ladue on Friday night.
Walker scored the game’s first points early in the first quarter when he stripped Ladue’s running back and in a blink was headed the other way 7 yards for a touchdown.
His second touchdown, this one 37 yards early in the second quarter, occurred when the 5-foot-9, 185-pound dynamo came up with what appeared to be a cramp. He had rushed outside the right side and was headed down the sideline when his leg tightened up on him. Instead of going down, he hopped on one foot the last 10 or so yards and dove into the end zone.
Walker played sparingly through the start of the second half but gradually worked his way in more. His final score came when he caught a 4-yard pass on fourth down to give the Greyhounds a shot with just over five minutes to go in the game.
“It’s hard to stop a kid like that,” Ladue coach Mike Tarpey said.
Ladue (5-2 overall, 4-0 league) countered the explosiveness of Walker with a steady ground-and-pound offensive attack. With its big boys up front moving mountains, the duo of Marcellis Wade and Shawn Whitley ran effectively. Wade did the bulk of the damage with 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Whitley, who Tarpey said was a bit banged up, went for 52 yards as a change of pace back.
Quarterback Matthew Hooper completed five passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed in a short touchdown to end the first quarter to knot the game at 7-7.
The Rams showed what makes them such a difficult opponent to take down. They do so many different things and, against Clayton, did them well.
“When we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, offensively we feel good about what we can do in the air and on the ground,” Tarpey said. “Marcellis did a great job for us tonight.”
No. 7 in the STLhighschoolsports.com small-schools rankings, Clayton (5-2, 4-1) was the victim of its own miscues. Coach Scott Weissman said that they were out of position on offense and defense. He was forced to burn timeouts, because formations or personnel weren’t on point. They didn’t execute the things they do more often than not. He thinks they might have been swept up in the wave of emotion and hoopla that come with rivalry games.
“I think our kids got caught up in that,” Weissman said.
Despite the miscues and mistakes, the Greyhounds were right there until the final whistle. They even recovered the onside kick after Walker’s last touchdown to give themselves the ball and a short field with time on the clock.
“I'm disappointed for the kids not being able to finish a journey they started,” he said.
Tarpey said that Jaron Jones, the senior corner back who was taken off the field on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance, was going to be okay. The game was stopped for nearly 20 minutes as the athletic trainers and, eventually, paramedics tended to Jones. It was feared he'd suffered a spinal injury.