WALKER — There was always a routine to follow on Friday nights for Dylan Sharp and his youth league football team named the Renegades.
When the Walker High football played at home that meant Sharp and his teammates, outfitted in their game jerseys, were admitted free of charge to cheer on their beloved Wildcats.
While watching their hometown heroes certainly rated as an event, it was hardly the only attraction for Sharp and his football buddies.
They cut up outside the stadium in a grassed lot, playing football until it was time for Walker’s game to begin, where Sharp headed to the concession stand for a Powerade and nachos and then to watch his Wildcats play.
All was right in the world.
“It’s awesome to have a community like this, to build together and stay together your whole life,”Sharp said. “I remember coming to the games when I was little. It was so much fun.”
Now it’s the final turn for Sharp, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end, to have a similar impact on the town’s next generation of football players that walk through the gates to Walker’s Wildcat Stadium where Friday nights this fall figure to be filled with plenty of promise.
Sharp certainly wants to do his part after the Wildcats finished as the District 4-5A runner-up and wound up with an 8-3 record that included a first-round exit in the Class 5A state playoffs.
“I expect us to go all the way to the state championship every year,” Sharp said. “I believe our team will be able to do that this year. Our goal’s always to get to the state championship every year.”
The current version of the Renegades will notice a player in Sharp that has the opportunity to be a different version of himself, more than just a player rushing the quarterback or crunching opposing ball carriers.
First-year Walker coach Chad Mahaffey has tried to institute a policy in which he cross-trains players on different sides of the football to develop greater depth.
In the case of Sharp, that’s meant his first chance to play offensive tackle which began during the spring and continued through the offseason.
“He’s one of our bigger O-linemen,” Mahaffey said. “We have some others that are pretty athletic, but Dylan brings some size which we need. He’s a big, physical kid that can help us out a lot. I think he’s come a long way and is a guy we can rely on and count on.”
Sharp embraces the chance to help Walker succeed any way possible.
“They decided to try me there because our team needed help,” he said. “I’m always up to do whatever it takes to help the team win. I’ll just try my best to give the team whatever to help us win a game.”
Defense is Sharp’s forte,’ where he’s lettered the past two seasons, starting at defensive end a year ago.
First-year defensive coordinator Chris Womack has introduced an aggressive approach where Sharp, who played in two different defensive schemes a year ago, looks forward to a more stable approach. He believes he’ll be part of the Wildcats’ interior push against the run but will able to get up the field and rush the quarterback.
Together, it’s all served as a motivating tool through the summer where Sharp has designs on achieving significant things in his final season.
“I don’t really like to talk,” he said. “I just play and let people follow and see how I play, and they can play like me. I feel I’ve probably pushed the hardest I’ve pushed myself.
You never know when it’s going to be your last play. You have to give it your all every play.”