Walker Valley's Alex Duke (28) brings down a Rhea County runner inside “The Corral.” The Mustangs travel to Crossville Friday to face the Cumberland County Jets. (Banner Photo: Lynnae Roberts)
Walker Valley has shown flashes in each of the first three weeks of the season.
The past two weeks the Mustangs in fact took leads early over both Bradley Central and Rhea County, but were outscored a combined 75-7 after their first scores in the opening quarter.
Hungry for a taste of victory, a strong chance will present itself as it looks to be somewhat of an evenly matched battle as Walker Valley travels to take on Stone Memorial Friday night in a non-region gridiron affair.
Zeke Westfield has shown little signs of letting up on opposing defensive backs this season.
Even far from 100 percent, the 6-foot-5 wide receiver still holds his mark as the top pass catcher in Bradley County with 25 catches for an area best 411 yards this season.
While Westfield was strongly shadowed by Bradley Central’s Jeffery Brewer, who held him to a pair of catches for 14 yards after his 43-yard score nine minutes in, he has still put up gaudy numbers.
His record-setting performance in Week 1 (9 catches for 217 yards, 2 TDs) was not his only super star performance as he had 13 catches for 140 yards against Rhea County last week.
Westfield will have matchups to exploit all night against the Panthers.
He and Brock Gibson (9 catches, 135 yards) each have three touchdown receptions from a fellow senior Kolten Gibson, who leads the area in passing scores (8) and is second yards (827) just five behind Bradley standout Dylan Standifer.
Gibson has 83 total touchdowns in his WV career and has a 298 and 419 total yard performances this season.
FIND A RUNNING LANE
The Mustangs main problem this season in keeping its young defense fresh and opening up more big plays in the passing game has been its lack of a rushing attack.
While Bradley, Polk and Cleveland have rushed for a combined 1,488 yards this season, the struggle to run the ball with any type of success has hurt Walker Valley gravely.
Gibson is the only one to have averaged more than three yards per carry in any contest, as the signal caller had to scramble eight times for 37 yards against the Golden Eagles in a 35-14 loss last week.
The Mustangs have rushed for a total of 83 yards and 46 of those yards have come from Kallum Low and Cody Duggan, who are asked mainly to contribute on the defensive side as key leaders.
The offensive line must find ways to toughen up and push downfield, while any capable runner still looks to assume lead duties.
The backfield could see new faces assume carries until someone emerges.
PLAY WITH PASSION
While it has been tough-sledding so far, the intensity cannot be let up by Walker Valley no matter how young they are in some areas.
Leaders must show themselves even more so in times of adversity and to come out with a big win at Stone Memorial would go a long way.
You have to play for the breaks and the Mustangs have a strong chance to obtain their first win if they can stay focused on the ultimate prize this Friday night.