The Preseason Is Over!
Walker Valley junior Mikey Humphries (66) takes off down field after recovering a McCallie fumble in jamboree action at Finley Stadium Friday night. The Mustangs will return to UTC's home football stadium for Thursday's season opener against Chattanooga Central at 6.
(Banner Photo: Patrick MacCoon)
CHATTANOOGA — There were not many happy campers from Bradley County leaving the sidelines at the end of the annual jamboree at Finley Stadium Friday night.
While holding its own with Notre Dame, except for a pair of missed extra points, the second play from scrimmage against McCallie School delivered a big hit on star gunslinger Dylan Standifer. The 3,000-yard passer would not return for Bradley Central.
"We are excited about getting this preseason stuff over with," Bears head coach Damon Floyd said. "You are so scared of having injuries and have to hold guys out just to make sure they are ready for the regular season. We are ready for the real thing."
The Bears had two starting linebackers out along with a starting corner, while they pray for good news on Standifer early this week.
A youthful Walker Valley bunch faced the same tough slate, which offered no sympathy from the private school powers.
The Mustangs were defeated 21-0 by the Fighting Irish and Blue Tornado, who are both expected to be state championship contenders in 2018.
McCallie's defense was punishing in holding the pair of local teams to a combined minus-15 yards of offense over a pair of 20-minute scrimmages with a continuous clock.
"Not taking anything away from McCallie or Notre Dame, they are both great teams, but we did not show up with the intensity we have shown all fall," WVHS head coach Glen Ryan said. "All we ask of our guys is to give everything they have and we did not tonight."
Bradley Central and Notre Dame played the only close affair in the four games of local relevance.
Bouncing back from an interception thrown on his first drive, Standifer unleashed a deep pass down the middle to a leaping Tray Curry, who proceeded to deliver a pair of demoralizing stiff arms to Irish defenders on the way to a 63-yard score.
"We saw the defense was giving us something there and took the shot," Coach Floyd said. "Tray made a nice catch on a ball he had to adjust a little bit to bring in. He did a great job breaking tackles to take it to the house."
However, touchdown runs by Notre Dame's Cameron Wynn (2017 Mr. Football Finalist) and Jeffrey Watkins of 37 and 19 yards highlighted a run attack totaling 104 yards on nine carries.
The Fighting Irish's wing-T hybrid offense, which included lots of pre-snap movement and misdirection, drew three offsides penalties on the Mustangs in the first five plays and two straight to begin its scrimmage against the Bears.
The state runner-up from last season in D-II AA scored on all five jamboree possessions.
Bradley Central found a hole in the secondary again when junior Saylor Clark caught a 50-yard catch on a seam route down the left sideline. A play later, Standifer found "Goose" again for a 36-yard score.
BC did not have the option to try and tie, as two-point conversions were not allowed.
Standifer fired away for 153 passing yards on just four completions.
Starting Bear tailback Ricky McCleary had a 28-yard scamper called back on a holding penalty, but still impressed with three carries for 20 yards against the "Green and Gold."
"At times our offense played well," Floyd said while recapping the jamboree. "McCallie is just at a whole new level right now. Notre Dame was tough to stop in all of those formations.
"We are ready to game plan and see where we are as a team next week. It's all about preparing for Farragut."
Bradley Central's biggest stop on defense came from a foot-tackle by Camden Creighton to force McCallie into a three-and-out on its first drive.
For Walker Valley, junior quarterback Griffin Broome led the only drive of the evening resulting in first downs.
The dual-threat completed a 23-yard strike down the left sideline to sophomore Reid Gibson, while Broome also had an 11-yard run followed by a 10-yard rumble by Avery Gray. However, no points were put on the board despite driving to the Notre Dame 20 with a minute left.
Broome accounted for 42 of the Mustangs' 55 total yards, while Daniel Denton received the start against an unbreakable McCallie defense.
Sophomore running back Heath Tanksley was held out of the jamboree action, as Gray took his place totaling 18 yards on eight touches.
Walker Valley's lone stop came on the final drive against the Blue Tornado, as junior Mikey Humphries scooped up a fumble for an 18-yard return.
The Mustangs will return to Finley Stadium Thursday for their second straight season opener against Chattanooga Central.
"We have Monday and Tuesday to get ready and healthy," Coach Ryan said. "We better give it our all the next time we step out on this field. Coaches and players – we all need to step it up."
As Week Zero begins, both county programs hope standout playmakers will be available as the 2018 season is close to lift-off.