Valley Press Staff Writer
(Photo by Ruby Alvarado/Valley Press)
CALIFORNIA CITY — Daville Walker received the biggest news of his life on March 31, 2013.
But only a day before April Fool’s, Walker thought people were playing a gag on him.
It was no trick, however. Only a sophomore in high school, Walker was going to be a father.
“I thought it was about to be one big joke and setup,” said Walker, California City’s starting quarterback. “Then I realized it was pretty serious and it wasn’t a joke.
“But it’s been motivating more than anything. I now have a purpose other than myself.”
Walker’s daughter, Joyce, will turn a year old next month. The 18-year-old spends two days a week with his daughter, who lives with her mother, a former Cal City student.
“She throws things around,” Walker said with a laugh. “And sleeps and eats.
“She does what she wants.”
While most teenagers are busy trying to juggle school, extracurricular activities and a social life, Walker just might have the fullest plate of any student in the Antelope Valley.
“He and I have sat down and talked a couple times,” said Cal City co-coach Daniel Williford. “We just sit down and talk about what’s best for him and his family.
“He has stuff to deal with that none of our others kids have to deal with.”
In addition to being a father and maintaining a 3.6 grade point average, Walker also works 15 hours a week helping out his dad at a local landscaping company.
Then there’s football, where the 5-foot-7 senior has had his ups and downs trying to master one of the toughest positions on the field.
A running back for the last three seasons, Walker admitted he was only kidding when he suggested that he could play quarterback in his final campaign.
Williford gladly took him up on the offer.
“He’s doing as well as can be expected from a kid put in that situation,” Williford said. “We just felt like putting him at quarterback gave us so many more opportunities offensively.
“Having the ball in the hands of the best athlete on the field is always a positive. There’s been so many negative plays that he’s turned into positives just with his athletic ability.”
Through six games, Walker has completed 18-of-41 passes for 370 yards and three scores. A dual-threat signal caller, he has also rushed for 590 yards and scored six touchdowns.
And even though Williford said Walker is undoubtedly the Ravens’ offensive MVP thus far, the quarterback is hardly satisfied.
“It could be a lot better passing-wise,” said Walker, who returned a kickoff for a score last week and leads Cal City with 10 total touchdowns. “Sometimes my first instinct is to just take off and run.
“I want to be able to run and pass so teams can’t focus on just one thing.”
If Walker has looked off a bit at times this season, it’s likely because he misses at least once practice a week to spend time with Joyce.
In fact, the Ravens and Williford actually encourage Walker to spend as much time with her as possible.
“We tell him to not show up,” Williford said with a laugh. “He wasn’t here a lot of the summer but we acknowledged that from the start.
“But he spends time with his daughter and we get that.
“Football is definitely not his No. 1 priority. It’s a release for him and it’s fun for him.”
Said Walker: “My coaches and teammates are fully there for me. They want me to go see her, even if we have an important practice day.”
A standout sprinter in track, Walker has advanced to CIF three times in the 4x100-meter relay and won the High Desert League 100- and 200-meter dashes last season.
But if he has to skip a training session this spring, so be it. Walker said it’s part of the process of being a teenage dad.
“Some people would say it’s hard,” Walker said. “But it’s really just made me work harder.
“I love her, a lot.”
The biggest lesson Walker has learned over the past year?
“Relax,” Walker said with a smile. “I take my time and don’t panic about things.
“But it’s tough not being able to give 100 percent to each thing.”
Said Williford: “He had to change his line of thinking because it was no longer just about him.”
As the 3-3 Ravens prepare to play host to Rosamond tonight at 7 p.m. in a crucial league game, Walker will continue his newfound superstition of visiting his daughter before each home game.
“It’s good luck,” he said during a break from practice earlier this week.
As for the future, Walker said he wants to go to college to set a good example for Joyce. Yet he also understands that his options may be limited.
“I want to go wherever I can,” Walker said. “But I don’t want to be too far from her."
Until then, Walker will continue to be the busiest player on the Cal City football team.
And perhaps the most respected, too.
“I’m really glad that he’s stepping up because so many fathers don’t,” Williford said. “I’ve taught kids in the past who have kids and they have no contact whatsoever with them.
“Forget about being a student or an athlete, look at Daville as a young man who really understands the need to be there.
“I know grown men that don’t step up and handle that responsibility. But Daville has really been mature about everything.”