Bryce Nunnelly turns upfield against East Ridge (Photo by Anthony Sigismond)
Chattanooga, Tenn.— Walker Valley kicked off the second night of the Chick-fil-A Jamboree with a 14-0 win over East Ridge in what would be a tale of two quarterbacks.
The Pioneers and first-year starting quarterback Matthew Yarbrough hit the field first and quickly looked in control picking up a first down on their second play.
Yarbrough had a good rhythm going completing a screen pass to John Joffre and then picked up the first down after a completion to tight end Jordan Harvey
After leading the offense to a couple more first downs, Yarbrough and center Pete Sexton had trouble getting on the same page. After a couple of botched snaps, a fumble from running back Traneil Moore and a high snap from Sexton to Yarbrough East Ridge was forced to punt.
From there the Mustangs took over on offense and never looked back. Sophomore quarterback Kolten Gibson looked poised from the get-go and quickly got junior receiver Bryce Nunnelly involved. Nunnelly caught three passes on the opening drive and made a couple of shifty moves, including turning a short curl route into a 57-yard touchdown catch.
Nunnelly finished the game with those three receptions for over 80 yards and a touchdown along with playing some solid defense at cornerback.
“I felt pretty well tonight,” Nunnelly said. “I just trust my teammates, and my teammates make me a good player.”
On East Ridge’s next possession, Walker Valley’s defense showed good penetration containing the outside and stopping the run forcing the Pioneers to punt again.
Walker Valley’s ensuing possession began with Avery Jones rushing for a first down. On the next play, Gibson picked back up right where he left off. He continued to lead with confidence completing a couple of passes before floating one down the middle to junior receiver Tucker Mendenhall for 30-plus yards and a touchdown.
Gibson’s stellar play and calmness in the pocket shows how much he has progressed since being inserted into the starting lineup Week 3 of last season as a freshman.
Mustangs head coach Glen Ryan said Gibson is a real “headsy” guy and with all the weapons he has it makes it easier on his signal caller. He added that, as a team, he liked what he saw out there.
“We just wanted to go out there and execute and do our stuff and polish up a few things,” Ryan said. “I felt overall we did that.”
East Ridge did finish strong though after inserting quarterback Eric Bennett into the game. The sophomore saw limited action, but picked up a couple of first downs with a completion to Joffre and a quarterback keeper.
Even though Yarbrough struggled during the ball game, Pioneers head coach Tracy Malone still believes he is the guy to lead his offense.
“I feel he is the best we’ve got,” Malone said. “He gives us the best chance to win, and he’s operated real well in scrimmages.”
Walker Valley opens the season this upcoming Thursday at home against Bradley Central.
East Ridge will go on the road this upcoming Friday to take on Polk County.