Walker Valley running back Kole Hall (3) is brought down by a White County defender in the first half Friday, in Sparta (Banner Photo: Lynnae Roberts).
SPARTA — Walker Valley recovered a fumble on the opening kick, put seven quick points on the board and took a 14-10 lead into halftime. But, a failed fourth-down conversion and interception deep in Mustangs territory opened the door just enough for White County to pull off a disappointing 32-29 win Friday in Sparta.
“We put them in bad spots offensively. The defense did a great job of keeping us in it. On offense we let them down. We made a bad call. Going for it in fourth-and-1, I've got to make a better decision. That's on me. One hundred percent, that's on me. Then we threw a pick on their side of the field. That's two touchdowns. Coaching cost us that,” said Mustangs coach Drew Akins.
“The other side of that is we've got to trust our scheme. Until we start trusting the scheme and trusting our coaches we are always going to continue to feel this pain. Failure hurts. Until we start trusting each other we are going to continue to feel failure.”
Walker Valley quarterback Tucker Pope found Noah Duprey for a 12-yard touchdown for the first Mustangs score. The pair connected again with just over 10 minutes left in the first half for 16 yards on a TD that put Walker Valley out front 14-7.
A 27-yard White County (2-2) field goal made it 14-10 at halftime.
The Mustangs (1-3) came off of the break and rolled 73 yards in seven plays to open the gap to 21-10 as Pope found Griffin Broome for 22 yards to cap the drive.
The Warriors responded with an 80-yard march for a TD and 2-point conversion that narrowed the Walker Valley advantage to 21-18.
A White County interception at the Mustang's 15-yard line on the next Walker Valley possession led to a 25-21 Warriors lead late in the third quarter.
“It all boils down to trust. They are learning to trust me. I am learning to trust them. They've got to buy into what we are doing. They've got to buy into the thing we say,” Akins emphasized. “They are either catch phrases or they are beliefs. Right now I think they are catch phrases. I think they are things we say because they sound good. Really we don't trust it, we don't believe in it. It all goes back to believing and trusting in what we are doing. Until we believe and we trust we are going to continue to feel failure.”
A failed fourth-and-3 conversion attempt at the close of the quarter set in motion a 10-play, 67-yard scoring drive that gave the Warriors a 32-21 lead.
With just under seven minutes left to play, the Mustangs mounted a final drive that started from their own 36 and ended with Pope's fourth touchdown toss of the night, a 28-yard strike to Brody Swafford. The Pope to Duprey 2-point conversion narrowed the margin to 32-29.
From there, White County was able to burn the clock with four first downs to close out the win.
Akins accentuated the importance of trusting the system, coaches and teammates in his post-game debrief to the Mustangs saying he believes in his team, until the buy-in is complete the end result will continue to be disappointing.
“When you don't trust what your coaches say. When you don't trust the scheme then you do your own thing. In the end, I've got to build that trust with them. I'm the head coach and I have not built that trust. Until I can build that trust and they believe in everything I say, we're always going to be inconsistent. We are talented. It's not a talent issue. We're talented and we make plays, but we don't fully buy in. When things get hard we do our own thing and when we do our own thing we feel failure,” said Akins. “I know I keep saying the same thing, but that's what it boils down to; trusting the scheme, trusting what you are coached to do and doing what you are coached to do over and over and over.”
“We're going to figure it out. There is no quit in this coaching staff. There is no quit in these kids. But, we've got to do something as a coaching staff to make them believe in us. We can meet and do scheme all day, but until we teach them to believe in us we're going to continue to feel this.”
Walker Valley 7 7 7 8 — 29
White County 7 3 15 7 — 32
WV — Noah Duprey 2 pass from Tucker Pope (Charlie Swafford kick), 9:09
WC — Will Griggs 1 run (Will Cheek kick), 1:56
WV — Duprey 15 pass from Pope (Swafford kick), 10:28
WC — Cheek 27 field goal, 3:48
WV — Griffin Broome 22 pass from Pope (Swafford kick), 9:23
WC — Sedryk Leftwich 9 run (Leftwich to Kade Clark), 5:53
WC — Griggs 1 run (Cheek kick), 3:36
WC — Jayden Richmond 4 run (Cheek kick), 6:56
WV — Brody Swafford 28 pass from Pope (Pope to Duprey), 4:51
First downs WV 15 WC 17
Rushes-Yards WV 19-89 WC 51-257
Passing WV 281 WC 50
Total yards WV 370 WC 307
Comp-Att-Int WV 25-41-1 WC 2-8-1
Punts-Avg WV 1-26 WC 2-37
Fumbles-Lost WV 1-1 WC 1-0
Penalties-Yards WV 5-42 WC 4-40
Kole Hall 8-50
Tyler Pope 7-32
Tyler Pope 25-281
Griffin Broome 6-71 TD
Reid Gibson 4-58
Brody Swafford 5-50 TD
Duprey 4-31 2 TD
Daniel Denton 1-21
Kade Clark 1-12
Ethan Light 1-20
Walker Valley 1-3
White County 2-2.
Mustangs cornerback Lane Miller (12) intercepts a pass against White County in the second quarter Friday, in Sparta (Banner Photo: Richard Roberts).