Walton’s Blaylock has incredible senior season

Courtesy of the Marietta Daily Journal/Carlton D. White

Opposing quarterbacks who threw the ball in the direction of Walton’s Zack Blaylock were playing with fire this season.

Blaylock, the Raiders’ 6-foot, 190-pound defensive back, had a knack for locating the football in the air. Another strength of his was doing something with the ball once he caught it.

“Zack was like a ball magnet in the secondary,” Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo said. “When the ball went in the air, he could locate it, and if he got his hands on it, he ran with an edge about him and was determined to get in the end zone.”

It was a talent that served Blaylock well in 2011. The senior, who helped the Raiders to a 14-1 overall record, a Region 5AAAAA championship and Class AAAAA state runner-up trophy, managed to collect a Cobb County-high 11 interceptions on the season and returned them for 383 yards and five touchdowns. He totaled two interceptions three times in games at Etowah, against Wheeler and versus Dacula in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

Blaylock’s second interception against Dacula occurred in the end zone with 16 seconds left to play, sealed Walton’s 21-13 victory, and sent the Raiders to their third state semifinal in the last eight seasons.

For his spectacular play in the secondary, Zack Blaylock is the 2011 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Defensive Player of the Year.

“I’m really honored and happy to win this award,” said Blaylock, who has committed to play football at Kentucky next season. “It’s cool to know that I’m one of the top defensive players in the county.”

Blaylock also logged 80 tackles on the year, including 43 solo, and had two games of 10 or more stops. Tackling has always been one of his strongest qualities as a defender, and he improved this season at going after the ball for interceptions.

“Last year, I was really good at tackling and that just carried over to this season,” Blaylock said. “This year, I worked on closing on the ball early and reading the eyes of the quarterback and my interceptions went way up.”

A two-way player, Blaylock also led Walton with 469 receiving yards on 24 receptions in 12 games. He also paced the Raiders in touchdown receptions with five and had his best game – four catches for 125 yards and a touchdown – in Walton’s win over Dacula.

“I definitely like defense better,” Blaylock said. “I like the contact, but offense is fun too, because you can score touchdowns.

“It was tough sometimes playing both ways, but I alternated in as a wide receiver and wasn’t used on every down. Playing both ways was definitely an advantage, though. As a defensive back, playing wide receiver helped me to better understand what receivers do and vice versa, so I think that helped my game.”

Hidalgo was happy to find out Blaylock won the award.

“I’m really proud of Zack,” he said. “He’s a great football player and was probably our best player all around. He could have played any skill position we asked him to, even quarterback, because he has that type of talent. He’s a great leader, a great guy to have in the locker room and he’s a great competitor.

“To run back five interceptions for touchdowns is a staggering stat. We’ll miss his personality and what he brought on the field to each and every game.”

While the season didn’t end the way Blaylock wanted it to, he enjoyed everything it had to offer.

“We always had high goals this season, but it was a bit of a shock to go as far as we did,” he said. “We were the first Walton team to play for the state championship and that’s pretty cool.”

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Blaylock proved any ball in the air was rightfully his

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