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SPOTLIGHT
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Walters is TMP's potential X-factor

Published on -9/13/2012, 8:38 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

11Many players require motivation to work hard and need to be pushed, while others need to be reined in from time to time because they are working too hard.

Senior tight end and defensive end Anthony Walters needs to be reined in.

"Those are the guys you want as a coach -- the guys you have to rein in from time to time," Montgomery said. "Anthony is one of those guys. He is intense and is trying to play at his highest level every single snap. You can't ask for anything more than that."

After TMP's game 28-7 loss last week, Clay Center's coach Todd Rice raved about Walters tenacity and unwillingness to give up on plays.

Montgomery agreed with Rice's assessment. Walters has a motor that never stops.

"(Walters) is always going," Montgomery said. "He is just go, go, go from whistle to whistle. He's fun to coach."

Though undersized, Walters, 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, battles with bigger players and often comes out on top.

Against Clay Center, he was involved in 11 tackles and had two sacks and a big batted pass at the line of scrimmage. On offense, Walters has been the Monarchs top receiver, catching five passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns in two games.

His 65-yard touchdown reception against Clay Center was the Monarchs' lone score and lone first down in the contest.

Walters has done all this while making two position switches.

In 2011, Walters, a three-year starter on offense and two-year starter on defense, played at left tackle and defensive tackle, despite having a body and skill set that was better fit as a tight end and defensive end. However, his team needed him at those positions, so Walters did what was asked of him.

"Unfortunately, when you have a school our size, you have to play kids 'out of position,' " Montgomery said. "Anthony, if he was at a bigger school with prototypical size-wise offensive linemen, he would get opportunities early at tight end."

Walters, who played tight end prior to his sophomore year, said he always wanted to play tight end, but he loved playing football more.

"At first, I wasn't too sure about the move (from tight end of the offensive line), but I got an opportunity to start as a sophomore," Walters said. "I thought I'd rather be playing as a starter on the varsity team than be somebody's backup and just watching."

This preseason, Walters made it known he wanted to play tight end and won a competition with sophomore Cameron Fouts for the starting spot.

Walters said the biggest challenge has been route running. He has natural hands and knows how to block, but he didn't have a ton of experience running routes.

Montgomery said he's seen a steady improvement from Walters from week to week as Walters works with tight ends coach Bryce Wall.

"That's how he comes to practice each week," Montgomery said. "He says 'How can I get better?' "

Walters said learning two different positions hasn't been too difficult since they were fundamentally similar to his previous positions.

This season, Walters was elected as one of the Monarchs' captains. He said that honor has pushed him to work harder than ever.

"I've always been non-stop working hard," Walters said. "I've never really given up on anything. When I make a commitment, I'm going to stay there and not back down on my teammates."

In TMP's offense, Montgomery said Walters can be an X-factor. As the Monarchs' improved running game lures in linebackers, Walters can find openings over the middle and in the flat.

"If you have a tight end that can block and catch passes, a lot of times they can go unaccounted for in the defense," Montgomery said.

Walters said he hopes to play tight end in college, and though he doesn't know where he wants to go, he said he already has been contacted by several colleges.

If he wants to play tight end at the next level, putting his skills on display this year will have a significant impact on his chances of being recruited.

And Walters' tenacity certainly should help.

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