Walker Valley sophomore Kangel Sabany (8) leaps to make a touchdown grab in the final seconds of a non-region contest against Red Bank, Friday inside "The Corral." The Mustangs will face another tough challenge with a road trip to Knoxville Catholic Friday. (Banner Photo: Patrick MacCoon)
A high powered offensive affair took over the Lions Den last season with the Mustangs emerging with an emotional last minute victory.
With the top passing attack in the state gone, which averaged 335 yards per game, Walker Valley could not keep up this time around.
One of the state’s highest touted Class 3A teams rolled for 45 points and 316 yards in the first half as No. 3 Red Bank roared to a 58-6 victory at the Corral Friday night.
Wofford football commit Calvin Jackson III flashed his power for the undefeated Lions totaling 157 yards and scoring four times.
Jackson has 11 touchdowns in just four games after missing RB’s first two games, which were close victories over Chattanooga Central and Signal Mountain.
Walker Valley came through with a second half score to find the end zone on Senior Night in the closing seconds.
Out of timeouts and battling for any positives they could find, quarterback Avery Gray rolled out to his right and connected with a leaping Kangel Sabany for a 20-yard touchdown.
With 10 seconds remaining on the clock, Sabany who also punts for the Mustangs, lifted the ball into the air after the score. Soon after Sabany was lifted into the air by a fellow teammate.
Simply not getting shutout by a power was something for a rebuilding and young WV group with just three senior starters to celebrate.
“I am proud of the guys for continuing to fight for each other,” WVHS head coach Glen Ryan said. “This season has been hard and tough on them. Good things will come if they can continue to stay together. We keep encouraging them to never give up.”
With a lot of twists and turns to the season, Ryan does not like to name individuals, but believes every player still on the team deserves credit.
“This is a team game and these guys have not hung their hats up when they could have,” Ryan said. “We set small goals in the second half tonight and accomplished several. Good things will happen for these guys if they keep the big picture in sight.”
Red Bank quarterback Maddux Wilkey threw for 199 yards and two scores, including a 60-yard touchdown connection down the right sideline to star receiver Lucas Brown Jr., for an over-the-shoulder catch in full stride.
The Lions (6-0) set the tone from the opening kickoff as Michael Porter acted like the ball rolled out of bounds as he stalled for a few seconds then went 90 yards untouched.
First down hindered the Mustangs (0-7), whose defense allowed 18.5 yards on such plays.
Walker Valley junior Griffin Broome produced out of the backfield gaining several of his 67 yards late on 14 total carries. Last week gainst Lenoir City Broome ran for a season-high 73 yards on 12 carries.
“Griffin has done everything we have asked of him this season,” Ryan said. “We asked him to play running back for us after Heath Tanksley went down and he’s given us all he has got. A lot of our players have.”
Sophomore kick returner Brody Swafford helped set up the Mustangs with solid field position with two first half returns for more than 35 yards each while he upped his season average to a solid 22.7 yards per kickoff return.
There was only one turnover and six combined penalties in the non-region affair.
Sophomore receiver Reid Gibson led WV with four catches for 66 yards, while Noah Dupree had a 40-yard catch called back.
Mustangs quarterback Avery Gray totaled 102 yards highlighted by his final heave to Sabany.
WV’s Dylan Jenkins recorded seven tackles to up his team leading total to 60 on the season.
With three games left and a road trip to Knox Catholic next week for a Region 4-5A game, Ryan hopes his seniors continue to help set a tone.
“I hope they continue to be good leaders and help push our younger guys,” Ryan said. “They have encouraged them this season. We believe we have some talent that is building. We just have to keep up having a strong mentality.”