Walden is heart beat of team

Last year, Thomas County Central quarterback <!--Default NodeId For Erik Walden is 911619,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:911619]>Erik Walden</A> limped his way into the <!--Default For Georgia is to ignore-->Georgia Dome...again this year, Walden is not at 100% and still, the Jackets are riding their <!--Default For Charlie Ward is to ignore-->Charlie Ward like QB into the state quarterfinals.

Injured or not, it would take a miracle to keep Walden off the field on Friday night. Walden leads by example. His Thomas County Central teammates feed off that.

So missing the two big rival games with Cairo and Ware County, left the Yellow Jackets severely deflated.

"It did hurt sitting out", said Walden, "I wasn't used to watching games. But Moses (Cochran) played pretty good those two games."

"We thought it was more important to have him healthy in the playoffs", says TCCHS Head Coach Ed Pilcher, "He just makes plays, and he's something special."

The Jackets went 1-1 in those two games, while Walden rested his left knee. Wearing a brace last week, he helped get revenge from last year's title loss to Tomson,which ended the Jackets near perfect 2002 season.

"Even though we played them in the second round. We came out, got our win, and everyone walked away happy", says Walden.

Walden is 25-1 as a starter in two years, and is happy to keep this year going to keep his mind off recruiting. His courageous performance in last year's state semifinal helped gain his reputation in the Rose City. Now after ankle and knee injuries, Walden battles through pain, gaining more respect every day.

"Last year they talked me through it. They talked me through my bad games and helped me play better. Just like Coach Pilcher says, 'I'm the heart beat of this team.'"

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