Walker Valley senior Spencer Wilson (41) takes off down the right sideline during the first half of a Region 4-5A road contest against Knoxville Catholic Friday night. Wilson broke several long runs during the contest. (Banner Photo: Patrick MacCoon)
KNOXVILLE — A spread offense can be flashy, but sometimes a team has to make adjustments necessary to fit its personnel.
With the end of a tough season in sight, Walker Valley operated out of the old-school Wing-T formation in a 49-7 road loss to Class 5A's defending state champion in Knoxville Catholic Friday night.
One runner made the most of his opportunities in the throwback, smash-mouth running formation, which was introduced at the beginning of the week. Embracing the fullback dive play, Mustang senior Spencer Wilson rumbled for 79 yards on 15 carries.
Wilson's 5.3 yards per carry was a welcome sight in his backfield debut.
"Spencer is one of those kids who has given us everything he's got," WVHS head coach Glen Ryan said. "He comes to practice each day and goes hard in practice. He got a chance to run the ball tonight and made his hard work pay off. He had some really strong runs."
Wilson's chance at reaching the century mark on the ground was negated by injury in a Region 4-5A contest where all scores came in the first half.
The Wing-T formation could become a common sight for the future with the 'Stangs, who have only thrown for 66 yards per game after being spoiled by Kolten Gibson's state-best 335 aerial yards per game last season.
Wilson had five carries of at least nine yards against the Fighting Irish's first-string defense.
Seeing a hole created by his O-line, the WV fullback rumbled toward the goal line.
However, two defenders pried the ball loose as it flew into the right corner of the end zone. Racing to the loose ball, Mustang sophomore receiver Reid Gibson smothered the fumble for six.
Walker Valley trailed 21-7 with 8:35 left in the second quarter after its defense helped set up the 4-play, 24-yard scoring drive.
Creating a knack for working together, sophomore linebacker Kallum Lowe delivered a big hit to jar the football loose into the hands of sophomore DE Zach Hovey.
Lowe has forced three fumbles in eight games to go with 55 tackles (seven per game), while Hovey has three fumble recoveries.
Junior LB Kellar Carson led the Mustangs with seven tackles and picked up his team-leading sixth tackle for loss this season.
Knox Catholic (5-3, 2-1 Region 4-5A) left hardly any room through the air on an ice cold night for the WV passing attack.
The Mustangs punted nine times, while passing for seven yards on 18 attempts. Several dropped passes hindered forward progress.
Walker Valley (0-8, 0-3) drove to its opponents 31 after 11 and 13-yard carries from Wilson late in the first quarter, but a costly 15-yard holding penalty on second down and a sack diminished a possible scoring opportunity.
Junior kicker Charlie Swafford nailed his only PAT and has four field goal makes on five attempts this season.
In a season where every positive looks to be built on, Mustang junior Hayden Gibson had two quick stops while on punt coverage duty.
Edgar Pena, Blake Webb, Lowe, Hovey and Carson all had tackles behind the line of scrimmage defensively for WV.
"We have to take this season as a stepping stone to get better for next season," Coach Ryan said.
"We have two games left and hopefully we will continue to fight, scratch, claw and scrape. Whatever we need to do to show more improvements."
The Fighting Irish had little trouble moving the ball as they gained nearly 350 yards of offense in the first half.
All of Catholic's starters, which included OL/DL Cooper Mays (brother of UGA OL Cade Mays), were removed coming out of the break.
Irish freshman QB Caden Buckles threw for three touchdowns and 166 yards, while Keondré Jarmon and Tommy Winton both scored twice.
Jarmon helped take down Cleveland late earlier this season with 130 second-half rushing yards in a comeback 35-28 victory.
Neither side would find the scoreboard over the final 24 continuous minutes.
While trailing by 30 points or more in every game this season, Walker Valley will look to give McMinn County and Soddy-Daisy battles in the final two games.
"I just want our guys to rally and finish out strong," Ryan said. "We have a great bunch of guys. My message to them is to keep on plugging, pushing and getting better every day in any way they can."
Soddy-Daisy controls Region 4-5A as they took down Rhea County, 17-14, Friday night.
The Trojans are 2-1 in the region with Catholic and Rhea County, but beat the Irish 17-7 earlier this season.
Soddy and Walker Valley will conclude their regular seasons Oct. 26 at The Corral.
The Mustangs travel to McMinn County this coming Friday. They have lost the two previous contests 49-31 and 24-21.
Walker Valley 0 7 0 0 — 7
Knox Catholic 21 28 0 0 — 49
KC — Keondré Jarmon 4 run (kick good), 10:58
KC — Taylor Shannon 6 pass from Caden Buckles (kick good), 9:01
KC — Stiles Moore 23 pass from Buckles (kick good), 6:01
WV — Reid Gibson 1 fumble recovery (Charlie Swafford kick), 8:35
KC — Keondré Jarmon 27 run (kick good), 8:01
KC — Tommy Winton 7 pass from Buckles (kick good), 4:48
KC — Winton 22 run (kick good), 3:08
KC — #38 20 run (kick good), 0:30
First Downs WV 8 KC 16
Rushes-Yards WV 31-95 KC 29-249
Passing WV 5-18-0 for 7yds KC 8-9-0 for 166 yds
Total Yards WV 102 KC 415
Punts-Avg.WV 9-29 KC 3-35
Fumbles-Lost WV 1-0 KC 1-1
Penalties-Yards WV 2-29 KC 4-45
Spencer Wilson 15-79
Kallum Lowe 5-12
Griffin Broome 4-3
Avery Gray 4-3
Travis Brotherton 1-2
Kyler Parris 2-(-4)
Avery Gray 5-18-0 7
Kyler Parris 3-7
Griffin Broome 2-0
Kellar Carson 7 tackles TFL
Kole Hall 6 tackles
Spencer Jackson 5 tackles
Dylan Jenkins 4 tackles
Kallum Lowe 3 tackles TFL FF
Edgar Pena 2 tackles TFL
Zach Hovey 2 tackles TFL FR
Blake Webb TFL
Knox Catholic 5-3, 2-1 Region 4-5A
Walker Valley 0-8, 0-3 Region 4-5A