(Photo Angela Lewis Foster)
Chattanooga, Tenn.-- One of the most talented, youthful high school football programs in the greater Chattanooga area can be found at Walker Valley.
Only one touchdown through nine games for the Mustangs offense, which averages 34.8 points per game, has come as a result of a senior.
Running his way to career-best totals as well as a leadership role has been junior breakout running back Alex King, who is one of several third-year standouts for Glen Ryan’s squad.
After totaling 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns on 186 touches in his sophomore campaign, King has raised the bar this year. With one regular season game left to play, he has compiled 1,148 yards and 18 touchdowns on 156 plays from scrimmage in addition to one special teams touchdown.
“He’s a real hard runner,” Ryan said of his 5-foot-10, 170-pound tailback who can bench press 265 pounds and squat 320 pounds. “He’s very deceptive because he’s not very big in stature, but he’s stronger than he looks. He works hard in the weight room and has good leg strength. He also hits the hole quick. He’s been our lead back and has had a really great season so far.”
King attributes his ability to break tackles and gain extra yards on the ground to the time and effort he logged in the weight room over this past summer.
“This offseason I came to the weight room at the football complex with my best friend and two other guys and we worked out nearly every day,” said King, who will look to record his 30th touchdown of his career Friday night on the road against Ooltewah. “We’d come in early one morning and then the next day we’d come at night. I love the weight room and working hard.”
On 31 less carries than last season, King has upped his previous rushing yardage mark from last year by 31 yards in 2015. A talented sophomore quarterback in Kolten Gibson (22 total touchdowns) has handed the ball off 131 times to his partner in crime in the backfield, who has amassed 896 rushing yards (6.8 yards per carry).
Week in and week out, King has provided one of the top scoring threats out of the backfield in the area, as his 16 rushing touchdowns ranks second most only behind Sequatchie County’s Brandon Rudd’s 21 rushing scores.
Even despite a youthful offensive line, which starts a freshman, two sophomores, a junior and one senior, King has been impressed by his teammates’ blocking all over the field.
“Having scored this many touchdowns this year has shocked me a lot,” King said. “I couldn’t do it without my team. The offensive line does a great job and our receivers have blocked on the outside extremely well.”
Versatility has been a positive factor for Walker Valley’s running back, who has complented the passing game that is highlighted by four dynamic junior wide receivers.
While Cooper Melton and Bryce Nunnelly have combined to make for one of the best wide receiver duos in the area, totaling 1,042 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, Tucker Mendenhall, Zach Eslinger and King have been productive pass catchers as well.
King has 252 receiving yards and two touchdowns through the air on 25 catches, which ranks third for the Mustangs.
“He’s very versatile and that’s what we like about him,” Coach Ryan said. “We try to find ways to get our athletes the football. Fortunately we’ve got some good athletes that are all in that junior class. Alex is pretty much a fifth receiver that defenses have to worry about. What makes our offense able to click is by having all those guys and different weapons, so defenses can’t hone in on one or two guys.”
The multi-dimensional threat believes that his chemistry with his signal caller has been key in their combined success.
“Everything started to click with me and Kolten last year,” King said. “We came to the football field and we threw routes with each other. We just have a good chemistry together.”
He hopes that chemistry can lead to a big win Friday night over the Region 4-5A leading Owls, which is Walker Valley’s only path to clinching a playoff berth.
“I just want us to go out there and give it our all and get this win so we can have a lock in the playoffs,” he said. “I’m not looking for this season to be over with.”
At the same time, King knows the future is bright for Walker Valley.
“We’ve (the juniors) been sticking together through middle school and we have in high school as well,” he said. “Our junior class has been together since sixth grade and we have a lot of talent. We expect to do great things next year.”
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @RCS_Patrick