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Elija Walton leads North Marion soccer, earns FBS scholarship

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Because the North Marion Excessive College Colts soccer staff trotted again out on the sphere for his or her recreation in opposition to West Port Excessive College, head coach Greg Carr glanced at his star vast receiver, senior Elija Walton, 17, warming up with a recreation of catch earlier than the second half.

The coach was considering his participant had been too quiet and wanted a second-half worthy of a heart-thumping sports activities video. “We have to get him some highlights,” Carr mentioned.

The coach’s concentrate on Walton is comprehensible.

Walton is a extremely touted athlete heading to the highest stage of faculty soccer, the soccer bowl subdivision (FBS), subsequent season at Georgia Southern College. That evening, although, Walton had been comparatively quiet on the sphere by way of two quarters of play.

Stadium lights shone down on Walton’s pink headband. Carr understood his staff wanted to contain its chief.

And proper on cue, Walton staged a second-half outburst, scoring a landing.

Underneath the route of Carr, 37, who boasts an accolade-laden school soccer resume himself, Walton turned the primary participant from North Marion to succeed in the FBS in his time enjoying for the Colts.

“It means so much as a result of it exhibits the youthful guys round me that it’s potential,” Walton mentioned.

Elija Walton (left) watches on because the North Marion protection faces off in opposition to West Port.

Walton performs in Citra, Florida, a city north of Ocala with a inhabitants lower than 7,000, however he’s initially from Columbus, Georgia. His connections to high-level soccer run deeper than his head coach; his older brother, Kiante, performed soccer on the College of Indiana.

Walton met Carr when he arrived at North Marion. He began enjoying with among the highschool gamers when he was in eighth grade.

Carr himself excelled as a large receiver whereas at North Marion. All-State honors his junior and senior seasons in 2002 and 2003 had been sufficient to earn affords from nationwide applications such because the College of Georgia, College of Florida and College of Miami, however he selected to proceed his training at Florida State College.

The Seminole totaled over 2,500 receiving yards and scored 29 touchdowns in his profession at FSU. After a stint with the San Diego Chargers of the Nationwide Soccer League after which journeys to the Canadian Soccer League and Area Soccer League, Carr needed to get into teaching.

“After I was carried out enjoying soccer, the primary place I assumed to return again to was dwelling,” Carr mentioned. “I need to carry all of the experiences I’ve had and issues I’ve seen, and produce that again right here.”

North Marion athletic director Dale Corridor, having been on the faculty for over 20 years, noticed Carr as a participant after which was concerned in hiring him as a coach.

“Greg has had a really optimistic affect on our soccer program,” Corridor mentioned. “He cares for his gamers, and it exhibits. These guys are keen to do something for him.”

This 12 months marks Carrs’ fifth again at North Marion, although it is also his first as head coach. Nonetheless, he is had a front-row seat to Waltons’ complete profession as a Colt. Carr mentioned he began out as a quarterback as a freshman, however it took just some reps at vast receiver to make the choice to swap positions easy.

“We put him at receiver in opposition to West Port,” Carr mentioned. “He caught a put up route and went 70, 80 yards untouched. After that time, I mentioned ‘No extra quarterback speak, it is receiver speak any further.’”

Walton entered his senior marketing campaign with greater than 300 receiving yards already beneath his belt. The 6-foot-4-inch receiver has equaled that quantity after which some, recording 475 receiving yards by way of six video games in 2022.

Walton additionally competes on North Marion’s observe and discipline staff within the low season. His third-place end on the state stage for prime bounce is simply one other indicator of his elite athletic skills. Past his means, although, the senior has grown into a task mannequin for his staff.

“He is a man that may give his teammates the shirt off his again,” Carr mentioned. “He is a man that the youthful guys can have a look at and need to emulate, from his work within the classroom to further work within the weight room.”

When he is not on the sphere, Walton can often be discovered on the sidelines close to his coach watching his teammates play. The elite athlete leads by instance as a substitute of shouting orders to his teammates.

“He isn’t very vocal, however he is a ‘I will present you what I imply’ kind of man,” Carr mentioned.

As his remaining 12 months as a Colt wraps up, Walton helped his staff win the ultimate common season recreation of the 12 months in opposition to Seabreeze Excessive College by a rating of 55-34. The Colts fell to Eastside Excessive College of their first playoff recreation, ending Walton’s season.

Nonetheless, the tip of his highschool profession and the approaching transition to varsity marks a purpose fulfilled and a dream realized.

“It means so much as a result of it exhibits the youthful guys round me that it’s potential,” Walton mentioned. “Simply be affected person, and your time will come.”

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