Walker Valley running back Alex King and the Mustangs used their week off to relax, recoup and heal. Now it’s time to get back to work as the Tyner Rams come to “The Corral,” Friday.
(Banner Photo: Lynnae Roberts)
It’s been nearly two weeks since Walker Valley has lined up against an opponent.
The Mustangs last teed it up in a 49-28 win over Coffee County. On Friday, Walker Valley will step out of region for the last time this year with its tilt with Tyner Academy.
The Mustangs (2-2) should be rested and ready to go for the most part, after taking a brief respite with a bye week.
“We’re in good shape. We got off to a little rough start, but I think we’re settled down now and playing some pretty good football. We’ve got some guys who are starting to step up in some areas and give us some depth,” said Mustangs coach Glen Ryan.
“The bulk of our season is still in front of us. It’s what we do from here on out that’s going to matter. The old saying goes, ‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.’ I feel like if we can keep playing ball the way we are capable, we have a chance of finishing strong and doing the things we set out to do.
“That’s our main thing. We can’t get ahead of ourselves and we can’t look back. We have to focus on each game, go out there and play that game to the best of our ability,” Ryan said.
The Mustangs took a bit of a hit health-wise against McMinn and Coffee counties, but will return to the field this week in decent shape, according to Ryan.
“We got banged up pretty good against McMinn,” he acknowledged. “Against Coffee County we had some guys who really stepped up and did a good job for us. That was very encouraging to see. Having the bye week has helped us heal up some. We’re not 100 percent, but we’re probably 90 percent.”
In order to get the team ready to get back to work, Ryan and staff took a little different philosophy toward the off week. The coach called an extended timeout to give the Mustangs time to unwind and shake some cobwebs before getting back to business.
“We kind of approached bye week this year a little bit differently. We gave them off a few days to kind of step back and catch their breath, reflect a little bit and hopefully rejuvenate. Football is a long season. The bye week came at a good time for us. We were a little banged up,” Ryan stated. “We kind of got off to a rough start so it helped us to kind of reflect and refresh. We came in and had a couple of light days of practice and worked on fundamentals. The we came back in Monday getting ready to start the second half of the season.”
The down time also gave the Mustangs’ coaching staff time to reflect and blueprint the direction they want the Herd to travel the next half of the season. The first four weeks of the season exposed some gaps that needed plugging and positions that needed a bit of tweaking and tightening. Friday will tell if the adjustments will pay dividends.
“I’m looking to continue to shore up a few things, play solid on both sides of the ball and to be consistent. We need to do the things we need do to make a push into the region schedule; it’s right around the corner,” said Ryan. “We’ve learned some tough lessons last year and this year. They realize we have to go out and play — we can’t be all uptight.”
The Rams come into “The Corral” with but a single win in four games, but Ryan knows all too well a Wayne Turner-coached team will be prepared and can easily make up for lost time in the blink of an eye. The task of containing the Rams will be made doubly tough with the Mustangs dealing with the distractions of homecoming.
“They are athletic. They are always athletic. They’ve got guys who, if they get into open space, can cause problems. They’ve been kind of up and down like we have. They’ve had some tough losses and some good wins. Coach (Wayne) Turner will have them ready to go, I’m sure. We’ve got to stay focused in. It’s homecoming week and we’ve got to let the students enjoy the homecoming, but we’ve got to focus on the football game,” Ryan stated.
“There are no easy teams left. We have Tyner, which is a very tough, athletic team and then it’s region games the rest of the way out. There is no room for error. We needed that rest and we needed to heal up and recoup and get ready to go to hopefully make a strong push here at the end.”
If indeed the Mustangs play like Ryan feels they are capable, a win Friday would go a long way to providing the push and motivation Walker Valley will need to finish out the rest of the schedule and make a run at the playoffs.
“I feel like they are (ready to make that push). We’ve had a good week so far and hopefully we will have good days the rest of the week and be ready for Friday. The guys are a little bit more loose, relaxed and understand their jobs. They are going out and practice has been a lot crisper the last week and a half,” said Ryan. “We’ve just got to go take care of business and do what we’re supposed to do, and have fun playing.”