High school football: Shrine Bowler Walker leading, making plays

Published 3:32 am Friday, September 22, 2023


By Mike London

SALISBURY — Salisbury senior Curtis Walker Jr., universally known as Deuce Walker, doesn’t look all that much different than he did last season.

A little thicker, a little tougher, a little stronger, but basically he hasn’t changed all that much in physical appearance from his junior year.

In intangible ways, however, the change in him is night and day.

Seniors have to step forward, have to be more vocal, and he’s embracing that role.

“Deuce has always been a very good player,” Salisbury head coach Clayton Trivett said. “But he’s doing those things as a senior that don’t show up on a stat sheet. His leadership has become really big for us. In practice, at halftime, during the game. He was a great leader at the end of the Thomasville game. Everything about Deuce now lets you know he’s ready for the next level.”

Walker is committed to Georgia State. He picked the Panthers out of about 20 offers.

Last Sunday, it was announced he’d been chosen to play in the most prestigious area all-star game, the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

“I was at home watching the live announcement of the team, and I found out when I saw my name,” Walker said. “It means a lot. There have been a lot of workouts and lot of practices to get to where I am now. Making the Shrine Bowl lets you know all the work has been worth it.”

It’s a big deal.

Salisbury didn’t have anyone named to the Shrine Bowl team between 1976 and 2007, when Salisbury head coach Joe Pinyan was a Shrine Bowl assistant and Ibn Ali made the squad. Then there was another 14-year drought before Jalon Walker was named to the North Carolina all-star squad for 2021.

Jalon, Deuce’s older brother, is now a sophomore linebacker at Georgia. He didn’t actually get to play in the Shrine Bowl because that was one of the two Shrine Bowls eliminated by COVID. Jalon did get to play in the Carolina Bowl and the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando.

“One reason making the Shrine Bowl means a lot is that Jalon didn’t get a chance,” Deuce said. ” I’ll get to play in it for both of us.”

Walker had to play like a Shrine Bowler for Salisbury to survive 12-6 in its recent Central Carolina Conference head-knocker with Thomasville.

Everyone knew Thomasville would be the most difficult challenge the Hornets had faced so far, but Thomasville proved even tougher than advertised.

With Salisbury leading 6-0 in the opening minute of the second half, Thomasville fumbled, and Walker grabbed the ball and was off to the races. His scoop and score doubled the Hornets’ precarious lead to 12-0.

“It was the first snap of the second half, and the running back just dropped the ball,” Walker said. “I didn’t have to do anything great. The ball fell right into my hands, and I couldn’t see anything in front of me but green grass.”

It was 12-6 at the end, with Thomasville driving, and with the Hornets trying to hang on. Salisbury was drowning in a sea of yellow flags and an incredible amount of injuries on defense, but managed to make the plays it had to make to hang on.

Thomasville got as close as the Salisbury 11 on that last drive.

“We played tough at the end of the game,” Walker said. “As a senior, leadership is as much a part of my job as offense and defense. I keep telling everyone how good we can be as a team as long as everyone buys in.”

Walker already has accomplished some individual goals this season.

Besides his stellar work as a defensive back, he is now the all-time leader for receptions and receiving yards for the program. He’s closing in on 100 career catches. He’ll be the 15th in Rowan County history to reach that milestone.

“He’s one of those guys who looks faster on a football field than on a track,” Trivett said. “He plays really fast.”

Playing varsity ball as a freshman gave Walker a great opportunity to ultimately break school records, and he’s made the most of that head start.

He’s picked up the pace every year. This season will be his best, by far.

As far as team goals, Salisbury has a very good chance to go undefeated in the regular season and it will be a surprise if the Hornets don’t win another CCC championship.

But as far as making a serious playoff run, the Hornets are still a work in progress. They’ve got work to do, and they won’t have one of their sturdier defenders moving forward. Kenyon Hairston, who played the “Hornet” position, was lost for the season with a torn ACL in the Thomasville game.

Dashawn Brown, an outstanding defensive end, suffered a shoulder injury, but the Hornets are still optimistic about his return.

“Thomasville was a good wakeup call for us,” Trivett said. “They showed us that we’ve got to get better, and our guys understand that. We’ve been having good practices.”




Named to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas

Albert Saleeby, Boyden 1941
Don Rabon, Boyden 1941
Pete Watkins, Boyden 1942
Fred Fisher, Boyden 1944
Bill Taylor, Boyden 1944

Dub Grubb, Boyden 1945
Bill Ellis, Boyden 1946
Reed Dorsett, Boyden 1947
Bill Barringer, Boyden 1947
Dwight Shoe, Boyden 1948

Bill Peeler, Boyden 1949
Jerry Kincaid, Boyden 1949

Jerry Barger, Boyden 1950
Dick Smith, Boyden 1951
Wayne Harrelson, Boyden 1951
Ken Owen, Boyden 1952
Terry Smith, Boyden 1952

Jimmy Rabon, Boyden 1953

Ronnie Bostian, Boyden 1955
Tom Page, Boyden 1955
Doug Fulton, Boyden 1956
George Knox, Boyden 1957
Sam Loflin, Boyden 1957
Jim Edmiston, Boyden 1958
Bill Torrence, Boyden 1958
Don Campbell, Boyden 1959
Eddie Kesler, Boyden 1959

James Teal, Boyden 1967
Steve Gribble, Boyden 1969
Robert Pulliam, Boyden 1970
Terry Beattie, Salisbury 1971
John O’Neal, Salisbury 1971
Johnny Stratton, Salisbury 1972
Danny Winecoff, Salisbury 1974
Chuck Valley, Salisbury 1975
Keith James, Salisbury 1976
Ibn Ali, Salisbury 2007
Jalon Walker, Salisbury 2021 (no game)
Deuce Walker, Salisbury 2023