tampabay.com

Two of a kind, not of the same mind

By DAVID MURPHY
Published May 11, 2007


How competitive are Chad and Chase Walker?

Central coach Cliff Lohrey teaches the twins in a weightlifting class where the clanking of metal plates often is drowned out by the sound of two egos at war.

"It's nothing but 90 minutes of arguing over who's better, who's smarter, who's stronger, who's faster," Lohrey said.

On all fronts, it is difficult to say. Chad's grade point average is .01 higher and he benches 20 pounds more. Chase might be a hair faster. But any way you break it down, Lohrey comes out the winner.

As Central wraps up its second week of spring practice, it is obvious its fate very much lies in the hands of the red-headed identical twins. The past two seasons both played pivotal roles in the Bears' development into a playoff team. Chad started the past two seasons at wide receiver and defensive back. Chase, meanwhile, took over as starting quarterback late in his sophomore season and last year started every game in an 8-2 season that resulted in Central's first district title since 2001.

But for the first time, the brothers are heading into a year bearing the brunt of the spotlight. Running back DuJuan Harris and linebacker Jessie Hartman, two of the team's strongest leaders, are gone. So are four of five starters on the offensive line.

In their place is a senior class that has been expecting big things out of itself since freshman year.

As seventh graders, Chase, Chad and running back Duane Marks were all starters at West Hernando Middle School. This season, the trio should provide the bulk of the Bears' offense.

"This senior group is so close," Lohrey said. "I can remember specifically standing on the steps outside when they were freshmen and talking to other coaches while watching them. They were running around like chickens with their heads cut off, but they were doing it together."

Lohrey is particularly excited about Chase, who matured rapidly last year in his first full season as starter. After struggling early the Bears started 0-2, Walker steadily became a player who would not lose games and could win them as well.

In an October game against archrival Springstead, Chase hooked up twice with Chad on touchdown passes as Central overcame a 14-point deficit in the final eight minutes to win 18-17.

A few weeks later, in a playoff game against Daytona Beach Seabreeze, Chase had a 2-yard touchdown run with 55 seconds remaining that gave the Bears a 20-14 lead. Alas, the heavily-favored Sandcrabs pulled out the win on a touchdown pass with no time remaining, giving Central all the motivation it needs for this season.

"I tell everyone, Chase doesn't have great size, but he's not small; he's a 300-pound bench presser; he's easily one of the two or three fastest guys on our team," Lohrey said. "But the biggest thing is, he gets it done."

Though, to be fair, his brother may beg to differ.

David Murphy can be reached at dmurphy@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1407.