Walker Valley junior quarterback Griffin Broome will look to find success through the air against Rhea County on the road in a Region 4-5A opener in Evensville this Friday. (Banner Photo: Joe Cannon)
Rhea County has not wasted any time flashing power with its new triple-option attack to open the season.
Molding the old-school attack around senior quarterback Zack Pemberton, the Golden Eagles have come out of the gate with fire on the ground early this season.
If you take the first quarter of action into account in a wash out against Cleveland Week 1, head coach Mark Pemberton's team has rushed for 433 yards with his son piling up 196 of them to go with four touchdowns.
A young Walker Valley defense with eight of its 11 starters just sophomores will have to try and make the right reads and follow the ball as they travel to Evensville for a tough Region 4-5A matchup.
The Mustangs will have to look for the run and break to the ball against a RCHS squad who has run the ball over 90 percent of the time so far.
While forcing five turnovers through two games this season, stopping the run has been an issue so far.
With the top six tacklers in the county already, led by senior Clint Davis with 20 stops, WV will need to find more consistent stops in congestion and in space.
Glen Ryan's squad is no stranger to tough tests after going up against Chattanooga Central, who nearly beat a region champion in Red Bank last week, and then taking on a hungry Bradley Central group.
In those two matchups the Mustangs have been gashed for 575 yards on the ground to just 250 yards through the air.
With any hopes of keeping this game close, Walker Valley must avoid letting Rhea wear them out on the ground.
The Golden Eagles have four main rushers, which also includes standout linebacker/full back Chandler Kaylor, Bradley Goodwin and Aulbrey Smith.
Goodwin and Smith are also difference makers on defense as well.
RC ran for 333 yards against WV last season in a 35-14 victory. Pemberton's squad looks to have taken a step forward from last season as they have executed its new rushing attack early.
The Golden Eagles beat Brainerd, 35-13, in their home opener last week.
Rhea County looks to be stout on defense against the run this season after just allowing 14 yards to Brainerd and also bottling up Cleveland's run game in just one quarter of action.
However, if the Golden Eagles have a weakness it appears to be on the outside.
The Blue Raiders at the time of suspended play were 5-of-5 for 72 yards through the air, while Brainerd threw for 130 yards.
Junior quarterback Griffin Broome ran the ball 23 times last week, but should look to throw the ball 30 times or more to attack an exploitable secondary.
Sophomore Reid Gibson and Eli Hancock are threats in the receiving game and running back Heath Tanksley could come out of the backfield to make some catches as well.
The Mustangs will need to land some big plays through the air to find paydirt this week in a tough matchup.
With a very young team, keeping close with a tough opponent could build confidence going forward.