Mustang Coach Optimistic Despite Playoff Defeat
Walker Valley running back Kole Hall, right, looks for running room behind the block of offensive lineman Trevor Vines (51) in the first half against Knox West in the opening round of the TSSAA Playoffs Friday, in Knoxville. (Banner Photo: Richard Roberts)
KNOXVILLE — It was David vs. Goliath, only this time Goliath walked off the field of battle with a decisive victory.
The 2019 Walker Valley football season came to a not-completely-unexpected close with a 45-7 loss to powerhouse Knoxville West Friday, in the opening round of the TSSAA playoffs.
The No. 4-ranked Rebels — who went to back-to-back state finals in 2013-14, winning the championship in 2014 — scored on all six first-half possessions, including a 26-yard field goal, and took a 38-0 lead into the break. West (10-1) added a final score early in the fourth quarter to cap the win.
The Mustangs (4-7) broke up the shutout with a scoring drive sparked by a 47-yard kick-off return in the final frame by Spencer Jackson to the Rebel 38-yard line.
Kole Hall pushed the Mustangs to the West 6-yard line on four carries. From there quarterback Tucker Pope connected with Shimier Davis for the lone Walker Valley score.
With the Herd gathered afterward on a knee for the last time in 2019 around first-year head coach Drew Akins, the head Mustang admonished his team to grow and strive to be a team like what they saw against West.
“They are a heck of a football team. Really, it was fun to watch. It was fun to see,” Akins said of the well-oiled machine that is the Rebels. “We're a baby as a program right now, even with our 19-year-old history. They've (West) done great things as a program. That's where we want to get to. That's where we can build to. We have the potential to be that kind of program. It's fun being on the field and seeing what that looks like.”
Akins pointed out the resolve by the Mustangs never wavered for four quarters and he was pleased to see the fight, which resulted in a TD, continue to the final buzzer.
“I thought we fought. It wasn't an effort issue. We're never going to be quitters again. This team is never going to quit again, it's not in us,” Akins stressed. “Now we see what playoff football looks like. Next year, when we get to this point, we had better look more like them than we look like us right now. It gives us a visual over the next eight months of that's what we've got to come back looking like.”
The Mustang coach praised his departing seniors and lauded their effort, saying the group laid a solid foundation for the continued growth and vision for the program.
“There is no doubt (what they did for the program). I am so thankful for them buying into me and buying into our program and buying into the assistant coaches,” he said. “We asked things of them they have never been asked. We challenged them to do certain things and we disciplined them in certain ways they have never been disciplined. They could have chosen not to be a part of it. Instead, they leaned in when they could have pulled away. I'm so proud of them. We've got a great foundation laid because of what they've done for us as a program.
“I'm so thankful for this opportunity and so thankful for the great people around me. The whole coaching staff has done a great job. These kids have done a great job. I'm so excited to see what we do in the future because I know we've laid a foundation for greatness."
Mustangs-Rebels at Knoxville
Walker Valley 0 0 0 7 — 7 Knoxville West 21 17 0 7 — 45
First Quarter KW — John Cupp 2 run (Tyson Siebe kick), 5:59 KW — Grant Tierney 29 pass from Baker Dance (Siebe kick), 3:25 KW — name not available 20 run (Siebe kick), 0:43.2
Second Quarter KW — name not available 8 run (Siebe kick), 8:01 KW — Siebe 26 field goal, 2:53 KW — Shannon Blair 11 pass from Dance (Siebe kick), 0:14.7
Fourth Quarter KW — name not available 5 run (Siebe kick), 9:57 WV — Shimier Davis 6 pass from Tucker Pope (Charlie Swafford kick), 6:35
Team stats First downs WV 8 KW 16 Rushes-Yards WV 25-82 KW 27-154 Passing WV 44 KW 203 Total yards WV 130 KW 355 Comp-Int-Int WV 8-16-1 KW 12-15-0 Punts-Avg WV 5-29.8 KW 1-38 Fumbles-Lost WV 1-0 KW 0-0 Penalties-Yards WV 3-21 KW 4-30
Griffin Broome 5-21
Tucker Pope 2-3
Pope 6-14-1 24
Griffin Broome 2-2-0 20
Daniel Denton 4-30
Shimier Davis 1-6 TD
Griffin Broome 2-5
Jack Anderson 1-3
Skyy Craig 6 solos, 7 asts
Kellar Carson 4 solos, 8 asts
Garrett Noble 4 solos, 3 asts
Spencer Jackson 5 solos, 2 asts, 1 TFL
Shimier Davis 4 solos, 1 ast., 2 TFL
Dylan Jenkins 2 solos, 2 asts
Brody Swafford 3 solos, 1 ast
Walker Valley 4-7
Knoxville West 10-1.
Mustang Defensive Back Brody Swafford (23) brings down Knox West's Drew Francis (10) in the first half Friday, in Knoxville. (Banner Photo: Richard Roberts)