Growing up in the footsteps of a rather successful older brother can leave younger siblings in the wake of a shadowed path. Maryville football junior Ben Walker found himself in the aforementioned situation when he took over as the program’s quarterback last season.
And instead of sitting in that wake, he found himself emerging into the spotlight for the Spoofhounds’ football program.
Ben Walker’s older brother, Will, graduated in spring 2018. Seven months prior to his commencement from Maryville, Will Walker led the Spoofhounds to a 47-9 state championship win over Mt. Vernon High School. The fall after his departure, Ben Walker performed well enough to be named the next quarterback of the Spoofhounds.
“The tradition here at Maryville is unlike any other,” Ben Walker said. “It’s incredible to grow up and watch my brother and his team have the success that they had.”
In pursuit of outperforming the success that his brother brought to the program, his journey started in his sophomore year, the fall of 2018. As the new face of the franchise, Ben Walker’s Maryville career started with a 38-35 loss to eventual MSHSAA Class 2 State Champions Blair Oaks.
After 12 consecutive wins proceeding the Week 1 loss, his first year at the helm of Maryville’s offense was put to a halt in the MSHSAA Class 3 Semifinals by Trinity Catholic High School. That loss, coupled with a 12-2 record on the year for the Spoofhounds, primed Ben Walker for a revenge tour to start his junior campaign.
Fast forward a year later, the quarterback found himself in a similar situation: trailing Blair Oaks late in the fourth quarter of an eventual 23-14 Week 1 loss. In the inaugural game of the season, Ben Walker started a streak that has held up through the first six weeks of the season — six consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
Typically, the goal of the quarterback is to lead your team to a state championship, Maryville coach Matt Webb said. In Webb’s eyes, his quarterback has done what he can to help the Spoofhounds attain that goal.
“That’s a part of what being a quarterback in Maryville is — is leading our offense,” Webb said. “And Ben is doing a great job of that right now.”
“It’s been awesome seeing Ben grow into the role he’s in now. He’s really stepped up this year,” Will Walker added. “Ben has always been the type of quarterback that can make something out of nothing. He’s always been very athletic and talented at scrambling while still keeping his eyes downfield.”
Since the Week 1 loss to Blair Oaks, the gunslinger has been a nightmare to game plan against for opposing teams. The fact that he’s added mobility to his skillset this season has givenw a new dimension to the type of player Ben Walker has become, Webb said.
“Coach Webb is a really great coach,” Ben Walker said. “For him to compliment me, it really boosts my confidence and helps me on the field.”
Compared to last season, the confidence boost been apparent in the box scores. To this point, Ben Walker has led the offense by throwing for 12 touchdowns, one interception and 719 yards while completing 56% of his passes. Those marks have already surpassed the number of touchdowns he threw all of last season. He’s just 53 yards shy of eclipsing the total number of passing yards last season.
Despite changing the year, the record stands the same for the Spoofhounds this season throughout the first six weeks. Along with Ben Walker, one of the carryover pieces from the offense is his wideouts, specifically senior Tate Oglesby.
“We’re just constantly working, and I mean, to see it finally pay off — it’s good for all of us,” Oglesby said about his quarterback’s success. “But I mean, we’re hungry, so we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”
The quarterback’s arm will have a week off Oct. 11 via a bye week due to Bishop LeBlond joining the 8-man football ranks. But when the Spoofhounds resume their final two games of regular-season action against MEC rival Savannah, Maryville’s quarterback will be ready for the task at hand.
“The praise has been pretty nice but as a team our sights are set on the game ahead of us,” Ben Walker said. “We realized that we can’t overlook any team; we have to game plan and focus every week as if it was the state championship.”