By Gene Phelps
Special to the Gazette
Really it’s no surprise Drew Brees is Ty Walton’s favorite quarterback.
“I like watching him play,” said Walton, East Union’s sophomore quarterback. “He may not be as athletic as others, but he always makes plays.”
The two quarterbacks share a common physical trait … they’re both short.
The ability of the New Orleans Saints All-Pro and former Purdue All-American signal-caller was once questioned because of his height. He’s listed at 6-foot. That’s likely a push.
Walton stands “I’m 5-8 … and a half.” He’s grown a lot from last season’s 5-6 and he has added 25 pounds of muscle/strength.
Brees and Walton, because of their short stature, have to move in the pocket more to look for gaps in the passing lanes. Both players shine when rolling out to pass … and run.
In 2018, Walton led the Urchins to their first division championship, a 7-4 record, the program’s first victories against Baldwyn and Walnut, and to a berth in the state playoffs.
He credits the offense’s midseason switch from the run-oriented Houston veer to the pass-happy spread with the team’s success.
“I don’t think we would have won the Bruce game if we hadn’t started passing,” Walton said. “Later, against Walnut, we threw it all over the field and it worked well for us.”
East Union defeated Walnut 42-12 with Walton completing 14 of 17 passes for 291 yards and five touchdowns of 5, 12, 17, 32 and 70 yards.
This season, Ty’s father, Urchins head coach Kevin Walton, has switched to the spread. Another added wrinkle this fall will be going to no-huddle calls.
“The passing game opened things up for us last year,” Ty Walton said. “We’re used to it now.”
East Union’s success in the passing game can also be credited to the receivers. Included in that camp are speedy/elusive DeJuan Hubbard, an athletic Hayden Roberts and former running back, 6-3 Colton Plunk. Roberts caught the 12, 17 and 70-yard TD passes against Walnut. Hubbard had the other two. Plunk and 6-4 Gage Fellows give Walton big targets.
“I know we’ve got guys who can run the right routes, go for the ball and catch it,” Ty Walton said.
Plunk has witnessed his quarterback’s progress in the spring and in summer 7-on-7 play.
“He’s got more confidence,” Plunk said. “His arm strength has improved.”
Kevin Walton is sold on Ty and his teammates – including the offensive line – making the passing game produce victories in 2019.
“Ty got his feet wet with the spread last season. He loves what we’re doing,” the coach said.