Walker Valley will look to keep fighting to find positives to build off for 2019 as the season comes to a close. The Mustangs will travel for a non-region contest against McMinn County this Friday at 7:30.
(Banner Photo: Patrick MacCoon)
Sometimes when things go the complete opposite way of what one might have hoped, the best thing to do is smile and make the most out of it.
Walker Valley football will be fighting to take all the positives left they can from the final two weeks of the 2018 season.
"We don't have a chance to make the playoffs, but our guys are playing for each other and the six seniors," Mustang veteran coach Glen Ryan said. "We want to play hard to get a jump start to next year. We need to go out there and not be tight. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain."
With a Week 9 Friday night football road trip to McMinn County the hopes are to see even more positives on the ground operating in the Wing-T.
Senior Spencer Wilson saw success despite missing nearly half of last week's contest against Knox Catholic, as he rumbled for 79 yards on 15 carries.
Wilson is healthy and ready to go after battling calf cramps in his first start as a primary ball carrier.
"Spencer had been mainly a blocking back for us and we saw some things we could take advantage of last week," Ryan said. "We utilized him as a runner and it paid off when he was in.
"Our line created some holes and he ran hard. We need a lot more of that going forward in these last two ball games against McMinn and Soddy-Daisy."
After a historic 7-win season back in 2016, which included the program's first playoff victory over a powerful Oak Ridge, the Mustangs have had a tough run.
Despite having a quarterback and receiver in the national Top 25 rankings last season after 10 games, WV finished 1-9 overall.
The lone victory was a instant classic second quarter comeback against a stout Red Bank team, who beat them 58-6 this year.
With nearly 80 percent of the starting offense/defense just sophomores, the Mustangs (0-8) are looking to continue their development.
"The mentality is changing and Spencer has done a great job of leading the guys," Ryan said. "As we get more physical and develop more, we will get better."
A road trip to McMinn will pose another challenge after losing to them 49-31 last year and allowing over 300 rushing yards.
Despite a 3-5 record, the Cherokees are much better than their record on paper may appear.
A fellow young team has lost three straight games, but contended well in a 21-7 loss to Bradley Central, 20-17 loss to Ooltewah and 38-31 loss to William Blount.
Sophomore quarterback Will Moore leads a spread attack for MC, as the program has made the change from its Wing-T offense last season with different personnel.
"They are going to come out and try to pop us in the mouth," Ryan said. "We have to fight back. They are sound defensively and we have to execute and not shoot ourselves in the foot. We have to run the ball consistently and make big stops defensively."
Walker Valley ran for 95 yards last week, but had to abandon the run at times.
They hope to see more positives from Wilson along with Griffin Broome and Avery Gray, while Reid Gibson and Noah Dupree look to make plays when they go to the air.
"I wish we had gone to the Wing-T a little bit sooner, but we thought we had the right people to run the spread," Ryan said. "I know right now this is the best thing for us. We need to run the football to give ourselves the best shot."