Walker valley assistant coach Craig Ryan runs a drill with Mustangs linebackers inside “The Stable,” Tuesday at Walker Valley. The Mustangs host a five-way scrimmage Friday against Knox West, Knox Catholic, East Hamilton and Chattanooga Central. (BANNER PHOTO, RICHARD ROBERTS)
The Walker Valley football team is in “Smokey and the Bandit” mode, according to head coach Glen Ryan. “We’ve got a lot to do in a short period of time. It’s football time in Tennessee again,” Ryan said as he headed to the Walker Valley basketball gym for practice after a heavy downpour Tuesday afternoon forced the team inside. “This week we need to get a lot done. We’ve got Knox West, Knox Catholic, East Hamilton and Chattanooga Central all coming in on Friday, and that’s for real.”
The Mustangs will host the five-way scrimmage at 6 p.m. Friday at Charleston Field. The session will be the first time several younger Mustangs will see action in a game-type situation, and Ryan is hoping to see improvement and growth in method and maturity. With the 2015 offensive system already installed, the focus will be on filling the gaps left by departing seniors on offense and defense.
“We’re just trying to polish up our offense and get some things done. We want our new guys to get better fundamentally and get better technique-wise. That’s what we are looking for. Our offense is in [place], it’s been in since spring. We’re just trying to keep improving and getting better with those young guys who have to fill in for the seniors who graduated last year,” said Ryan.
Ryan also said not only is he looking for his youngsters to grow quickly, he is expecting his returning veterans to continue to improve, upgrade and refine as the season-opening Aug. 20 kickoff against Bradley Central approaches. With that game only 22 days away, Walker Valley coaches are looking for the team chemistry to fuse into a positive force.
“Our linebacker corps and offensive line are our two biggest areas where we have some big shoes to fill. That’s where our emphasis has been, trying to get those young offensive linemen ready and trying to get that linebacker corps ready to go. Meanwhile, the rest of the guys are all back from last year, but they can always get better,” Ryan said.
“They had a good season last year, but they can always do better and they know that. We want them to continue to work hard and keep getting better each day,” Ryan stated. “As they do that and our line grows and our linebacker corps comes together, hopefully we’ll be able to put together a pretty decent football team for this year.”
The coaching staff is looking for some issues to be answered Friday during the scrimmage, particularly against defending state champion Knox West. It will be the first real look at who is going to perform and which direction the focus needs to turn before wins and losses start to count. “We’re going to get a lot of questions answered Friday. That’s going to be the first time they are actually in the trenches — something besides a normal practice setting. Sometimes in practice when you are going against your buddy, you don’t always get a true picture.
“But we will definitely know where we’re showing improvement and where we still have a ways to go after Friday.”