Khavon Walker was used to winning championships.
Walker, a senior at Frankford High School, has played football since he was 4, and every season he played for the Frankford Chargers, the season ended with a massive celebration. It was the only thing he knew.
“Frankford Chargers are great, I played little league football there,” Walker said. “I won championships every year I played there. I was so used to winning. I knew it wasn’t easy, but we always expected to be the best team. It was a good feeling winning all those championships. We had a great team every year.”
Last year Walker was too old to play for the Chargers, so he started playing for the Pioneers. It was a good year, but it wasn’t a championship one.
Walker, who played wide receiver, watched the Pioneers lose in the Public League Class 5A semifinals by two points, so it was a tough way to end the season.
“We were right there, one more win and we’re in the (championship),” Walker said. “It was rough for me because I’m not used to losing. And we wanted to keep winning because we love playing together. This team is a family and we love to be together.”
That might be what hurts the most about the coronavirus shutting down Public League sports until next year.
Walker had a lot of reasons to look forward to his senior season. A championship was one of those reasons, but he also loves being around his team and coaches. But he’s not giving up on one final season just yet.
And when it happens, he’s going to be ready.
Every day, Walker wakes up early and head to Frankford playground to work on his speed and footwork. Then, after some rest and video games, he meets up with his cousin and works out at a playground on Erie Avenue.
“I’ve been doing a lot of running, I really want to be more explosive,’ Walker said. “I’ve been working on my speed and agility. I have to get faster to help the team. I want to have a great year so we can win and I can get to college.”
Walker had a strong campaign his junior year, and it was even more impressive considering it was his first season playing receiver. Growing up, Walker always played running back, but when he got to high school, he started playing in the slot, which was the perfect spot for him. It will also help when he gets to college because as a running back, he’s a tad undersized, but at receiver, the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder should fare much better.
And he’ll keep bulking up to make sure.
“It’s fun, receiver, I like it a lot,” said Walker, who will be a captain this year when the season begins. “I just use my speed. We have great running backs, so I think I can help the team a lot from the slot.”
Walker is still learning the position.
And ever since school stopped, he’s been spending a lot of his downtime putting in work to perfect the Pioneer offense.
That’s why he’s not broken up about the delay of football.
“When I first heard that football was delayed a few months until, maybe we’ll play in January, maybe later, I was so upset because I love being around these guys, but then I thought maybe it’s a good thing,” Walker said. “We’re not really working out together, but I see some of the guys on 7-on-7 tournaments and things like that. And everyone is working on getting better. Everyone wants a great year.
“We are on a group chat, and everyone checks in on each other. I always check in on my guys. So does Coach Bill (Sytsma). He checks in on us all the time. He loves us, and we love him. We’re a family. We love each other.”
That made this summer a tough one.
Not only have the Pioneers had a hard time not being around each other, but earlier this summer sophomore running back Angelo Walker (no relation) was shot and killed while riding his bike in Overbrook.
It brought the team together, but it was an awful way to learn the lesson.
“He was a great kid, we were all really sad when he died,” Walker said. “I tried to help him because he’s a running back and I was a running back. When he first started, he fumbled a lot. I showed him some things. He listened and got better. We’re going to miss him. It hurts because we’re a family.”
Walker knows all about how helpful a strong family bond can be.
Walker’s mother owns a clothing business, and because of this she’s able to go to a lot of his games. For Walker, love starts at home.
“I love my mom, she’s at every game, she tries to be, anyway,” Walker said. “If you go on my Hudl page, you’ll hear her screaming. Especially on kickoff returns.
“My mom expects me to do well in football. She makes sure I do well in school. So does Coach Bill. He’ll make sure we are all in school and learning. Never has to worry about me. I get all A’s and B’s. But it’s great to have people around you who care.”
Just like he does about his family. And, of course, winning championships.
“Frankford always won championships but hasn’t in a while,” Walker said. “We want to get back there this year. When we play, I want to win a championship.”