Finding a spot
“The first thing we did when we started the off-season with our offensive personnel was determine who needed to be on the field,” the Stateliner head coach said. “We looked at our wide receivers where we had Nasir Ball, Ray Poremba and Ray Stem, and we wondered where Sterling would fit. We had Sean Morro graduating so we thought maybe Sterling could play tight end.”
After Friday’s season-opening 35-7 win over Warren Hills, Duffy’s thoughts sure look right.
Walker-Sutton made a team-high five catches for 83 yards and a touchdown while blocking effectively.
Walker-Sutton made such a strong impression that he was the first player Duffy mentioned after the game Friday by name when asked by a reporter who had excelled.
“Sterling is a physical, tough and smart player and we felt he could make the transition pretty smoothly,” Duffy said.
Room for improvement
It all made Walker-Sutton blush a bit.
“I think I could have done a little better, but I think I did OK for playing a new position,” he said. “I have to work on running my routes better and blocking better.”
Lifted by lifting
What Phillipsburg fans saw from Walker-Sutton against the Blue Streaks, and may well see again when the Stateliners host Franklin (0-0) Friday night (7) in a Mid-State 38 Delaware Division game, is the product of a lot of effort.
”When I first started weightlifting for this year I had to change my lifting program,” Walker-Sutton said. “It was pretty difficult for me at first. They wanted to fill me out. I gained 20 pounds of muscle from last season (when he played at 165). I am at 185 pounds now.”
The bigger body has not slowed Walker-Sutton down at all, and the combination allows him to play a key dual role.
“We split our tight end out in some of our formations, and if a kid can do both (split out and in tight) that allows us to keep the same personnel on the field,” Duffy said.
The actual move to tight end was easier, perhaps, for Walker-Sutton than the strength program.
“At first I thought I might be uncomfortable, playing a position I wasn’t used to,” said Walker-Sutton, who played running back and wide receiver as a junior. “But I really wanted to help the team, and it wasn’t that tough. It was something new to me but once I got going I got used to it pretty quickly and it was better for the team.”
Walker-Sutton said he still needs work on getting his blocking down and getting more physical, but he’s already made big strides and will likely continue to do so.
“This year Sterling has to put his hands down in the dirt which he hasn’t before,” Duffy said. “I think he has done a great job.”
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.