After an eight-year battle with kidney cancer, Jeff Walker, the head coach of the Liberty Hill Panthers died on Tuesday, December 1.
As a coach that never had a losing season. After six seasons at the helm of the Rogers Eagles, Walker returned to Panther football where his success continued. As the man in charge Walker guided the Panthers to a 38-11 record in his four seasons, with a trip to the state finals in 2018 against La Vega.
In the pandemic stricken 2020 season Liberty Hill moved up in classification to 5A. Coach Walker’s Panthers finished the regular season 8-0 scoring 418 points and giving up only 59. The team had four monster shutout games, beating Navarro, Crockett, Austin-Travis, and McCallum by a combined 288-0.
In recent years Taylor has built a bit of a rivalry with Liberty Hill, and not just in football. In football the Panthers have downed the Ducks, in 2018 77-12 and in 2019 63-0.
Local coaches that faced off against Walker’s Panthers shared their thoughts on the passing of Coach Walker and his focused and tough as nails strategy.
“I just recently got to know Coach Walker. I had obviously heard of Liberty Hill and what they were doing in High School football and actually went to visit Liberty Hill in the late 2000's when he was the OC there,” said Taylor Coach Robert Little. “His teams were always well disciplined and tough as nails.”
Coach Little also commented on watching the Panthers offseason program under Walker.
“I was amazed at the amount of work they could get into a 50 min. period. It didn't seem possible,” Little said. “You knew he was in control and he was not afraid to let you know that as well.”
Former Taylor Coach Rusty Purser shared his thoughts of competition with Coach Walker.
“Jeff was the ultimate competitor. He was a guy that you knew he was going to give you his best, and you had to have your team ready for competition each and every time you took the field,” said former Taylor Coach Rusty Purser. “He always struck me as a tough and demanding coach, but his kids went the extra mile for him.”
The Hippos also saw competition with Liberty Hill. The two most recent meetings were both competitive, including 2018’s 52-51 OT contest.
“Coach Walker was a great guy. His teams were always prepared.” Said Hutto Head Coach Brad LaPlante. “He was a great competitor. You can tell that his coaches and players respected him by how hard they coached and played for him.”
Coach Walker will indeed be missed not just in Liberty Hill but in all Texas football.