Not only is his last name Walker, but he wears number 34, plays running back and plays in the state of Georgia. So as Southeast Bulloch senior Chase Walker got close, it seemed only inevitable that he would not only “chase” the legendary Herschel Walker, but catch him as well.
He finally did it this past Friday night against Windsor Forest as Chase passed Herschel’s career touchdown mark of 86 and moved into 10th place all time in the state with 88 touchdowns.
“I have only had the opportunity to coach him for this season,” said Southeast Bulloch head coach Steve Pennington, “But in this short amount of time he has amazed me with his work ethic and dedication. What I am most impressed with is he has been able to do this for four straight years. I have had freshmen who have put up impressive numbers, but sustaining that speaks to Chase’s desire and dedication.”
While Pennington has coached Walker for this season only, current Bulloch Academy athletic director Pat Collins saw the now senior progress over three years.
“Chase Walker is one of the hardest working, physically tough and overall impressive players I have coached in my career,” said Collins, “When I was at Southeast Bulloch I felt if we could just get him a little room to run we could hand him the ball 30-40 times a game and he could get at least four yards a carry we would win a lot of games.”
And that they have. During Walker’s time at Southeast Bulloch the Yellow Jackets have a 21-3 region record and have advanced to the state playoffs three straight seasons.
One of the men that had to deal with the offense Walker was leading to that success was Jenkins High head coach Tim Adams who is currently the defensive coordinator at Effingham County. Adams spent three years trying to figure out ways to slow Walker down.
“I would take him on my team any day,” said Adams, “When we played Southeast Bulloch there was no surprise what they were going to do. He was coming right at you. Stopping him was another thing. He is one of the hardest players to tackle. He has great balance, he keeps his feet moving and he is a lot faster than you’d think. I’ve seen him outrun some pretty fast defensive backs.
Collins credits Walker’s upbringing and his family for helping instill the work ethic and dedication that has helped with his success.
“I have found that behind every successful youngster is parents that are behind them,” said Collins, “Chase has had that with two supportive parents who also have high expectations.”
You would think with the last name of Walker choosing the number 34 was because of Herschel, and while Chase was aware of the Bulldog legend, he took the number more as a tribute to his predecessor at Southeast who he is often times compared to.
“Everyone just assumes I took number 34 because my name is Walker and Herschel was 34 (at Georgia),” said Walker, “But I actually wear it because of Tyler Epps, who was the guy I looked up to when I was in middle school.”
As for the record itself, it was brought to Walker’s attention his junior year and he has definitely used it as a way of motivation.
“Somebody showed me his overall numbers last year on one of the Georgia historical sites,” said Walker, “I realized I had a chance to pass a legend, and I set a goal for myself. Three or four games into this season I knew I had a good chance of beating it, and last week was special when I finally did it.”
With the record now in the books Walker also nears another career milestone. He has 5,875 career yards and 125 this week would put him at 6,000. Chase, though, would just as soon put things behind him and hope to break another mark that has been around since 1974, which was the last time the Yellow Jackets advanced past the first round of the state playoffs.
“Passing Herschel Walker and the attention has been fun, but I just really want to focus on beating Pike County Friday night,” said Walker, “I know it’s been over 40 years since we’ve won a playoff game, and I hope we can break that record this week.”