Walker Valley wide receiver Brody Swafford (23) makes an over-the-shoulder catch on a 70-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Pope against Red Bank in the Mustang's jamboree game Friday at Finley Stadium, in Chattanooga. (Banner Photo: Richard Roberts)
CHATTANOOGA — The Walker Valley Mustangs showed the good, the bad and the ugly against head coach Drew Akins' former team, Red Bank, in Saturday's Best of Prep Jamboree appearance at Finley Stadium.
The Mustangs gave up a pair of 70-yard drives to the Lions in the first of two jamboree quarters in a 13-7 shortcoming.
Walker Valley came back to defeat McMinn County, 14-0 in the second 20-minute quarter. Mustang quarterback Tyler Pope connected with receivers Noah Duprey and Daniel Denton for a pair of TD passes in the victory.
Duprey scored from 17 yards out, while Denton's gallop to pay dirt went for 45 yards.
“We’ve got to find a way to stop beating 'us.' We’ve got the talent. Every single piece we have. We have the offensive line. We have a defensive line, we have linebackers, we have corners, we have safeties, we have receivers, all the position players we need to be successful. We just don’t have it between our ears right now. And it’s my job to get that fixed,” said a frustrated Akins.
“We’re searching for anything we can do, but we’ve got to fix our mentality. When we fix our mentality we’re going to be a great football team. We’ve got all the other pieces. That’s the last little piece we’ve got to get.”
After falling behind 7-0 to the Lions, Walker Valley tied the game when Pope hit receiver Brody Swafford with a perfectly thrown over the shoulder strike for 70 yards on the second play from scrimmage.
The Lions went back up with a 10-play, 70-yard drive for the winning touchdown on the ensuing possession.
The Mustangs gave up a chance to take the lead with three minutes left on a fumble recovered by Red Bank at the Lions’ 49-yard line. The Mustangs’ defense stood tall in the closing seconds, forcing a fumble at the 2-yard line as time ran out.
Akins said the Mustangs moved the football, but ball security must be a top priority.
“You can’t turn the ball over, though. If we don’t turn the ball over its probably tie game. We moved the ball. We scored on two plays on the first drive. We came back on the second drive and had the first down, but we cannot turn the ball over. We’re not good enough as a football team right now to turn the ball over and put our defense in a bad spot,” said the Mustang coach.
“Our young guys got in there and caused a turnover, which is great to see. Where we are defensively right now, we’ve got to be able to cause turnovers so we can give ourselves an opportunity in a football game.
Walker Valley will open the regular season with a road trip to Knoxville to face Karns Friday.
“It’s game week. We’re prepared for it. It’s a one-game season all the time from here on out,” said Akins.
Mustang quarterback Tyler Pope, center, sticks out his tongue as he races up field for yardage against Red Bank during jamboree action Friday at Finley Stadium, in Chattanooga. (Banner Photo: Richard Roberts)