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2018 Prep Football Previews: Holmes quarterback sees better days ahead running the spread

The NKyTribune will be featuring each of the 21 high school football teams in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties leading up to the first games of the 2018 season on Aug. 17. We will then provide focused coverage of our local teams throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Holmes football coach Ben Nevels said his team will be running more of a spread offense this season to take advantage of senior quarterback James Walker’s capabilities and experience.

“He’s one of the more polished quarterbacks we’ve had here in quite some time,” Nevels said. “In the past, we’ve had athletic, small-in-stature quarterbacks who could run it and just throw it when they needed to. James has got that drop-back quarterback’s body, but he can also pull it down and run it.”

James Walker passed for 947 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first full season as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback last year.

Listed as 6-foot-1, 210 pounds on the roster, Walker passed for 947 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first full season as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback last year. His completion percentage was just below 40 percent with 18 interceptions, but a lot of that was due to a young offensive line.

“I feel like I can achieve more with the players we have this year,” Walker said. “We’ve got a lot returning. We lost a couple seniors on the offensive line that could hurt us, but we’re finding players who can replace them, so I’m feeling real good about the offensive line.”

Walker said he made his varsity debut three years ago as a strong safety and led the Bulldogs in interceptions. He was the team’s back-up quarterback as a sophomore and got the starting assignment last season.

Holmes posted records of 4-7, 3-7 and 3-8 over that three-year stretch. The three games the Bulldogs won last season were against teams that finished with a combined record of 2-30. In their eight losses, they were outscored 281-74.

“We played a lot of young kids last year, which was a struggle from early on because they were learning on the fly,” Nevels said. “Now we’re here and looking for that to pay dividends.”

In addition to having more size up front, the coach said there are some “explosive skill players” in the Bulldogs’ offensive lineup. He expects senior running back Cortez Blasingame, senior tight end Anthony Thomas and sophomore receiver Tayquan Calloway to be scoring threats, along with Walker.

James Walker

“We’re looking at more jet reads and stuff to use our athletes in space,” Nevels said. “And (Walker) is such a big guy that once we get teams chasing us east and west he can pull it down and run downhill, and it usually takes more than one guy to bring him down.”

Walker’s decision-making ability will be crucial in the Bulldogs’ new offense. On running plays, he’ll have to read the defense before deciding whether to handoff or keep the ball. When he drops back to pass, he can’t a force a throw and get it picked off.

“I like it a lot,” Walker said of the spread. “It makes me a lot better for the next level. I’m sure I’ll have to read defenses a lot in college.”

The senior quarterback said he has talked with recruiters at Georgetown, Pikeville and Union. A successful senior season could decide where he continues his career.

“We’re excited about what this year holds for him,” Nevels said. “As long as he takes care of business in the classroom and keeps making progress on the field, he should have an opportunity to play (college football) somewhere on Saturdays.”

2017 season: 3-8 record, lost in first round of Class 4A playoffs.
District: Class 4A, District 7 with Bourbon County, Harrison County, Mason County and Scott.
Head coach: Ben Nevels (14-29 in four seasons at Holmes).

Aug 24 – at Brossart, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 – WALTON-VERONA, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 – at Boone County, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 – LLOYD, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 – HARRISON COUNTY, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 – HOLY CROSS, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 – BOURBON COUNTY, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 – at Mason County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 19 – at Scott, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 – NEWPORT, 7 p.m.

Other NKyTribune prep football previews:


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