Walker Valley running back Kole Hall (3) evades the tackle of Bradley Central's CJ Hardy (11) last week. The Mustangs will be looking for a win against Rhea County Friday night inside "The Corral." (Banner Photo: Kevin Cannon)
After a tough night on the football field last week, the Walker Valley Mustangs have little time to feel sorry for themselves and call it a season. Head Coach Drew Akins said that is absolutely not the case with the Mustangs and he feels last week’s double-digit loss is indeed a thing of the past.
“Our kids have responded really well. They took our message of last week just being a measuring stick and seeing how far we have to go. I do think we have come a lot farther than that game showed — they know we have come farther than that game showed,” said the first-year Mustangs coach. “It taught us some things. The next time it’s that kind of atmosphere and emotion I think we will handle it better. We put it in the rear view mirror pretty quick and moved on to Friday. This game is a lot more important when it comes to our goals for the season.”
Akins feels the Mustangs let the emotion of the moment get the best of them and lost focus on the job at hand. But, now with big game experience under their belts, he is hoping the team can move forward with continuing confidence.
That confidence will be put to the test Friday when another tough-to-beat ream, the Rhea County Golden Eagles fly into the “The Corral” inside the Toby McKenzie Sports Complex.
“We took last week as a learning experience. The next time we are in that spot, which will be this week, there will be just as much excitement, emotion fan support and all that this week as there was last week. Take what we learned last week, what we didn’t handle well last week, and be prepared for it now. We need to prepare for those emotions and still play within our scheme,” stated Akins. “It’s nice to have experience. There is no way for us to simulate in practice what happened last Friday."
The Eagles will arrive with a group of seasoned veterans and a defensive line that is as solid as any around. The good news for the Mustangs is the defensive scheme they will be facing is the same one they have been installing for nearly three months.
“With their front six and their six-man box, it makes it really tough to run. We had better be able to throw the ball well enough to get them out of the box in order to run the football. It becomes a numbers game just like any other thing. They don’t like to vacate a six-man box,” Akins acknowledged. “Protection is going to be key. We’ve got to make sure we protect.
“Offensively they are tough kids. They are the same Rhea County. They are going to run power and counter right at you. We’ve got to make sure we make our fits and we trust our responsibilities," he said. "If we do those things and as long as we are tough enough to withstands their front seven maybe we will find some success defensively.”
Akins said there won’t be any new schemes added on the offense or defense this week, and the key to success will be in executing the system in place.
“There is nothing new going in on either side of the ball this week. It’s just executing the things we’ve been doing since day one,” he noted.
Akins said there will no doubt be more tough times for the Mustangs, but as they grow and mature as a team those times will become fewer and fewer. He feels the Mustangs are looking forward to Friday night and are anxious for more wins in the near future.
“I’m really proud of how they have responded. I’m really proud of how our fan base has responded,” Akins praised. “That (last week) could have been something that is really discouraging and there has not been any negativity from within the school, from within our team or within our fan base. They still know we are working toward where we want to be. It’s not something we can do overnight. We are going to have to go through some failures in order to find some success. When we find that success it will be so much more sweet when we get there because we’ve had some of these experiences.”
Walker Valley Mustangs Spencer Jackson (26) and Lane Miller (12) bring down Bradley Central's Saylor Clark last week. The Mustangs host Rhea County at home, Friday. (Banner Photo: Nikki Swafford)