Walker Valley's Griffin Broome (2) looks for a receiver against Loudon Friday, at Walker Valley. (Banner Photo: Nikki Swafford)
It was a picture perfect night for football at Walker Valley High School on Thursday night as the powers that be made the right decision to move the game up a day to avoid bad weather predicted for Friday.
It was Senior Night for the Mustangs who celebrated 18 senior football players, cheerleaders and band members before the last regular season home game.
Seniors Noah Duprey, Griffin Broome, Kole Hall, Blake Webb, Fletcher Hicks, Charlie Swafford, Jack Anderson, Kendrick Cox, Travis Brotherton, Barton Dixon, Mikey Humphries, Bryce Hixson, Garrett Noble, Kellar Carson, Hayden Gibson, Jacob Cross, Taylor Thurman and Shamir Davis have set the standard and led the way for the Mustangs resurgence this year and will help carry them into the playoffs.
“I hope that we can look back at this group of seniors and know that we started building something and when we do that, I want this group to know that they helped lay the foundation for this program,” said Walker Valley first-year coach Drew Akins.
The pregame Senior Night ceremonies, as it turned out, was the highlight of the Walker Valley evening. After that, it was all Loudon as the fourth-ranked and undefeated Redskins dominated the game from start to finish with an impressive 49-7 win.
The teams exchanged punts to start the contest. The Redskins (9-0, 4-0) then kicked their high-powered offense into gear and scored the first points of the night on a nine-play drive. Senior tailback Drew Jackson covered the final four yards for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Jackson finished with 125 yards rushing, caught a pass for 35 yards, ran for two TDs and threw for another.
The Mustangs (4-5, 1-1) had two impressive drives in the game The first started in the first quarter and finished early in the second. The 13-play, 64-yard drive stalled at the Redskins 16-yard line as a fourth down pass came up just short.
From there the visitors made three straight scoring marches to essentially put the game on ice by halftime. A 33-yard scoring strike from quarterback, Keaton Harig to Kyle Smallen made it 14-0. Jackson notched his second TD of the night with 16-yard dash to paydirt and then a trick play worked to perfection as Jackson took the handoff then stopped and tossed a jump pass to a wide open tight end, Tyler Whitfield in the end zone to push the Loudon advantage to 28-0 at halftime.
“Loudon is a great football team,” explained Akins. “Coach Herig is a great football coach, Jackson is a great player and they have dudes all over their defense, they do what they are coached to do and they play hard. We’re not there yet, but we’ll get there. We just have to keep building towards that and learning from teams like this.”
The Mustangs started the third quarter with another impressive drive. Loudon place kicker, Mark Wagner nailed all seven of this extra points and kept the Mustangs pinned back all night long as he booted every kickoff through the end zone to start every Mustang possession at the 20 yard line.
Walker Valley steadily moved down the field as Kole Hall ran seven times for 26 yards and caught a screen pass from quarterback Tucker Pope for 19 more while Griffin Broome added 15 yards to the cause during the drive. But, just like the drive in the first half when the Mustangs entered the Red Zone, the Redskins defense was equal to the challenge. Smallen stepped in front of a Pope pass for the interception and returned it to midfield. Six plays later, the Redskins scored again when Wagner caught an 8-yard TD pass.
The Mustangs finally got the egg off their side of the board on the next drive. Brody Swafford got things started with a nice catch and run for 23 yards and Hall finished the drive with an impressive 51-yard touchdown run. Charlie Swafford split the uprights for the extra point and the Loudon lead was sliced to 35-7 after three quarters.
Hall finished with 106 yards rushing and added a 19-yard screen pass in the game.
Time moved quickly off the clock in the fourth frame as the visitors added a pair of scores to account for the final tally of 49-7.
“We've got to understand, we’re still trying to build a program and it’s not going to build itself overnight,” said Akins. “There are going to be peaks and valleys and we have to find a way to not let the peaks be so high and the valleys be so low. That’s a mentality thing and hopefully we can learn to do that.”
The Mustangs will travel to Soddy-Daisy next Friday with playoff seedings on the line. A Walker Valley win will mean a first round home game in week one of the playoffs. A loss means a road trip.
Loudon- Walker Valley
at “The Corral”
Thursday, Oct. 24
Loudon 7 21 7 14 — 49
Walker Valley 0 0 7 0 — 7
L — Drew Jackson 4-yd. run (kick good), 1:29
L — Kyle Smallen 33-yd. pass from Keaton Harig (kick good), 6:04
L — Jackson 15-yd. run (kick good), 3:19
L — JD Thaxton 4-yd. pass from Jackson (kick good), 1:01
L — No. 20 8-yd. pass from Harig (kick good), 3:49
WV — Kole Hall 50-yd. run (Charlie Swafford kick), 1:48
L — Harig 4-yd. run (kick good), 10:51
L — Harley Cornett 6-yd. pass from Harig (kick good), 2:34
First downs L 21 WV 13
Rushes-Yards L 30-198 WV 22-115
Passing L 139 WV 141
Total yards L 337 WV 256
Comp-Att-Int L 13-19-0 WV 16-28-1
Punts-Avg. L n/a WV 4-19.3
Fumbles L 0-0 WV 0-0
Penalties-Yards L 4-20 WV 5-50
Kole Hall 13-106 TD
Griffin Broome 5-12
Tucker Pope 4- -3
Keaton Harig 12-17-0 135 yrds., 2 TDs
Drew Jackson 1-1-0 4 yrds. TD
Tucker Pope 16-28-1 141 yrds
Daniel Denton 2-26
Noah Duprey 4-26
Brody Swafford 4-23
Kole Hall 1-24
Reid Gibson 2-20
Griffin Broome 2-18
Jack Anderson 1-4
Skyy Craig 5 solos, 3 asts, 1 PBU
Dylan Jenkins 6 solos, 2 asts
Spencer Jackson 4 solos, 2 asts
Kellar Carson 3 solos, 2 asts., 1 TFL, 2 PBU
Reid Gibson 3 solos, 2 PBU
No. 4 (3A) Loudon 9-0;
Walker Valley 4-5.
Mustangs Wide Receiver Jack Anderson (16) looks for running room after a catch against Loudon inside "The Corral" Friday, at Walker Valley. (Banner Photo: Nikki Swafford)