Ooltewah Ousts Walker Valley With Excellence In All Phases

Ooltewah running back Cameron Turner dives into the end zone for a touchdown ahead of Walker Valley defender Dylan Towers during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

 

No one will blame Ooltewah coach Mac Bryan for sticking with a plan that works.

 

Play tough, play smart, contribute in all three phases and dominate the fourth quarter. It worked last week as Bryan's Owls rolled in round one of the TSSAA playoffs.

 

It worked again Friday as Ooltewah corralled the Walker Valley Mustangs 45-20 at the Owls' Nest.

 

"We're excited about next week with the way we're playing," said Ooltewah quarterback Collin Thurman, who all but sealed the outcome with a 4-yard run midway through the fourth to give the Owls a three-score cushion. "It really feels like we have it clicking on all cylinders right now."

 

All cylinders and across all position groups.

 

"We did what we do," a noticeably pleased Bryan said as his team advanced to the quarterfinals with a trip to Farragut next week. "I feel like we are a complete football team, and our special teams were really good tonight."

 

How balanced were the contributions from the Owls?

 

When asked about the game's biggest play, Bryan paused.

 

What about the blocked punt that Andy Reed returned for a 21-yard touchdown to open the scoring?

 

Maybe the fumble Jaylin Rogers caused that Steven Turman recovered in the Owls' end zone to deny the Mustangs a touchdown?

 

Or how about Grayson Avans' 40-yard fumble return to close the scoring?

 

"No, the biggest play was the fourth-down stop," Bryan said of the horde who stopped Mason Oran on fourth-and-1 from the Ooltewah 5 on the first play of the fourth quarter with the Owls leading 31-20.

 

Said Walker Valley coach Glen Ryan: "We left too many points on the field. We made some mistakes and they took advantage of them, and that's what good teams do."

 

Ooltewah's big plays were too much for the impressive skills of Walker Valley quarterback Kolton Gibson,

 

Slinging the ball across the field while dodging consistent pressure, Gibson completed 22 throws for 330 yards and led the Mustangs with 22 rushing yards despite getting sacked four times.

 

"He's a football player," Ryan said, paying the ultimate compliment within the game.

 

But with the way the Owls are playing collectively, they are too much for any one player.

 

"I feel like we are getting better every week," Bryan said, "and that is across all phases. I like where we are."

 

With the early special teams boost and the big defensive plays, the opportunistic Owls were content to rely on their two-headed running game after halftime. Ooltewah threw just two second-half passes, relying on the power-and-speed rushing combo of Cam Turner and Sincere Quinn.

 

The duo combined for 248 yards and three rushing scores with most of their production coming in the second half.

 

For the Mustangs (7-5), it was a sad finish in what was a historic season.

 

"It's part of the process," Ryan said a week after Walker Valley's first postseason win in program history. "To get a playoff win and to be in a tight game with a great team like Ooltewah knowing you were right there with a chance to get to the quarterfinals. That's part of the pain of getting better."

 

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

 

Ooltewah defender Andrew Manning blocks a punt by Walker Valley kicker Justin Rowland which was recovered and returned for an Ooltewah touchdown during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

Walker Valley defender Cooper Melton tackles Ooltewah running back Cameron Turner during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

Walker Valley running back Bryce Nunnelly breaks around Ooltewah defender Gene Myers during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

Walker Valley's Cooper Melton (31) and Logan Manning (27) tackle Ooltewah wide receiver Andrew Manning during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

A deep pass lands in Walker Valley receiver Cooper Melton's lap as he's covered by Ooltewah defender Andrew Manning (13) during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

Coaching staff check Walker Valley running back Alex King after King was injured on a play during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

Ooltewah defender Gene Myers tackles Walker Valley quarterback Kolten Gibson during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

Ooltewah defender Dylan Dickson tackles Walker Valley quarterback Kolten Gibson during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

Walker Valley quarterback Kolten Gibson passes ahead of Ooltewah defender Grayson Avans during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn.(Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

Walker Valley cheerleaders warm up before their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

Walker Valley wide receiver Zach Eslinger jukes to avoid Ooltewah defenders Jake Sullivan (34) and Steven Turman during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

Walker Valley wide receiver Zach Eslinger jukes to avoid Ooltewah defenders Jake Sullivan (34) and Steven Turman during their second-round prep football playoff game at Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. (Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.)

 

 

 

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