Walker, Tigers trying to change Urbana football's identity

Walker, Tigers trying to change Urbana football's identity

URBANA — Ordell Walker acknowledges that an outsider’s viewpoint of Urbana football probably isn’t an upbeat one these days.

The Tigers are stuck in a rut, posting a 1-8 record each of the past four seasons. Since a 9-2 campaign in 2012 that included the Tigers’ first-ever playoff win, Urbana has racked up just six victories.

In his second year helming the Tigers, Walker is aware of these facts and the opinions that can sprout from them.

He and his boys, however, are interested in changing the status quo.

“The word that comes to mind (with) our identity is hungry,” Walker said. “Hungry to change perception about the program, change previous records (and) change how people view them.”

Urbana actually is on a win streak entering its Aug. 24 opener at home versus Rich East, having doused Peoria Manual 42-6 in the Tigers’ previous season finale.

That’s a little positive momentum for a club Walker admits is still looking for one standout strength among its position groups.

As far as individuals are concerned, Walker has plenty of good news to offer Urbana supporters.

A trio of seniors — quarterback Tad Meeker, receiver/cornerback La’Darol Lipscomb and receiver/defensive back Mike Mboyo — are displaying the exact traits Walker feels his squad needs amid recent struggles.

“I think this generation in general — I don’t know if it’s just Urbana — we want to be more, ‘Watch me,’” Walker said. “And that’s good, but we also need some guys who are going to talk. Those are the three guys that everybody on the team respects, and they’ll listen to them.”

Meeker completed nearly 60 percent of his passes last year and produced eight throwing scores to just four interceptions.

He’ll return three of his leading targets in Lipscomb (19 receptions, four scores), Mboyo (14 catches) and junior Jerome Rowell (seven receptions, two touchdowns), though Walker expects Rowell to hold down both front lines this season.

Even with this promising upperclassmen talent in play, Walker is intrigued to see how newcomers mesh with the returning Tigers.

“A lot of really good young guys have come into the program,” Walker said. “So I’m really excited about the future beyond this year. Our future is bright.”

Walker realizes that, even with that positivity, there’s still work to be done in the present.

And he expects any improvement from that pesky 1-8 ledger to come on the backs of more than Meeker, Lipscomb, Mboyo and the like.

“We lost some tremendous experience with our seniors, and so we have a lot of young guys that we’re going to have to count on that haven’t even played a varsity game,” Walker said. “Those guys I listed off, I expect those guys to be good players and lead. But just the guys that nobody’s heard of are going to be the meat and potatoes of this team.”

 

URBANA’S 2018 SCHEDULE
DATE    OPPONENT        TIME

Aug. 24    vs. Rich East    7:15 p.m.
Aug. 31    vs. Danville    7 p.m.
Sept. 7    at Normal Community    7 p.m.
Sept. 14    at Champaign Central    7 p.m.
Sept. 22    *vs. Bloomington    4 p.m.
Sept. 28    vs. Centennial    7 p.m.
Oct. 5    at Richwoods    7 p.m.
Oct. 13    at Peoria Manual    1 p.m.
Oct. 19    vs. Normal West    7 p.m.
*At Memorial Stadium, Champaign

-