Ryan looking for game-time performance from Mustangs
by SARALYN NORKUS Banner Sports Writer
Aug 22, 2013 | 1480 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS will be looking to improve on last year’s 5-5 mark beginning Friday with a road trip to East Ridge and a meeting with the Pioneers. Banner photo, RICHARD ROBERTS
THE WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS will be looking to improve on last year’s 5-5 mark beginning Friday with a road trip to East Ridge and a meeting with the Pioneers. Banner photo, RICHARD ROBERTS
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The Walker Valley Mustangs will get their season started off against a familiar opponent on Friday evening, as they travel to East Ridge to take on the Pioneers.

This game will mark the third season in a row the Mustangs football program has taken on the Pioneers in the first game of the season.

Thus far the results have been split 50/50, with Walker Valley getting the 20-10 win in 2012 and East Ridge getting revenge, 39-17, in 2011.

Besides the two most recent matchups, the Mustangs and the Pioneers also have two other season openers on record. Back in 2001 and 2002 East Ridge took consecutive season opening victories over Walker Valley.

Both teams have a similar recent history on the books, with the Pioneers’ last winning season coming in 2009, while Walker Valley’s last winning season was in 2008.

Last Saturday, head coach Glen Ryan’s “blue collar” Mustangs team participated in the Best of Preps Jamboree at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga. After their 20 minutes of play, Walker Valley walked away with a 14-0 victory over Howard.

“For what it was, we played well and executed well. That’s all I was looking for — how we went out, if we were sharp and crisp in our execution — and I thought overall we did pretty well,” Ryan commented. “We’ve played some game-type scenarios and scrimmages leading up to this. The jamboree is just a tune-up to make sure that you’re where you need to be at that point in time.”

With more than half of the team comprised of underclassmen, coach Ryan expects his nine senior players to set the tone for the team once they get out under those Friday night lights.

“I expect the seniors to set the bar, that’s their job. This is their fourth year in this program and they know what to expect. I expect them to go out and set the bar, and for everyone else to fall in line and follow their lead,” Ryan stated.

Although the coach still expects his younger players to make some experienced-based mistakes, he has seen improvements in their play every day.

“The young guys are coming along and doing good things. They’re still making young mistakes but are getting better and better every day, which is what we expect from them,” Ryan said.

Knowing that Friday will be the first real test of his young team against a team that reportedly has plenty of athletic talent and speed, Ryan has been putting the Mustangs through their paces at practice this week.

“We’ve been working at sharpening the blade this week and getting ready to go for Friday,” Ryan said. “We’re just trying to get a bit crisper on defense and make sure that we’re attacking and swarming the football. Offensively we’re trying to continue working at firing off on the line of scrimmage, doing a good job on blocking and pass protection, and sharpening up our passing routes. We’re defining the little things that you have to do to be a better football team.”

The Mustangs home opener will be next Friday against Sequoyah.

Kickoff for the season opener will be at 7:30 p.m. down at East Ridge.