Walker Valley was able to hold McMinn County to just six points in the first half, but the train came off the tracks in the second half, as the Cherokees went on to win 32-0.
“It was the same old problems. We had chances to go up early in that game and fumbled the ball down deep in their territory and came away with no points. When they finally scored they missed the extra point and made it 6-0. We drove down and did a nice job on our two-minute offense, got to the 8-yard line, tried a field goal, missed it and came away with no points there,” Mustang head coach Glen Ryan commented. “McMinn came back out and scored in the second half early, and started pulling away. That took us out of our game to where we were trying to play catch-up and didn’t do a good job of it.”
Missed opportunities have been a thorn in Walker Valley’s side all season.
“We’ve got to get to where we can finish those drives. We had opportunities against Polk County and Ooltewah but came away with nothing,” Ryan stated. “We’ve got to make the most of those opportunities to beat good football teams and that’s something we just haven’t done a good job of all the way around and that’s something we’re going to have to address in the offseason.”
Coach Ryan has wanted to see his team play a complete football game all season, but has yet to see that happen.
“Even in the games we won, we did not play a complete football game. We played one half, and just happened to put together a good half. In East Ridge we fell behind early and had to come back after the delay in the second half. Against Sequoyah we didn’t play well in the first half and came back storming in the second half, the same goes for Rhea, we fell behind early and in the second half came back,” Ryan explained.
One thing that Walker Valley can boast about this season is the fact that as of Week 9, it is the only team to have defeated a surging Rhea County team.
“Beating Rhea County has been our bright spot, and shows what we’re capable of when we step up and play. That is definitely something to build on in the future. We showed moments against East Hamilton when we were tied up 35-all. When that was happening we were clicking on both sides, and lately we’ve been a bit one-sided,” Ryan commented. “If we can keep all these young guys together and learn from our mistakes it should bode well for next season. Learning from your mistakes is where the biggest growth always comes. Our future right now, I think is a bright one, as long as we don’t disintegrate.”
With the playoffs officially out of their reach, the Mustangs (3-6, 0-5) will travel to Soddy-Daisy (3-6, 0-5) Friday night to finish out their season against a team that, on paper, they are virtually identical to.
“We’re so similar I don’t know if you can say there are any mismatches out there. They don’t have a lot of great team speed, and we don’t either. They don’t have the big standout whose going to do everything and be everywhere, and we don’t either. It’s just a matter of going out and executing and doing the things that we need to be doing,” Ryan said.
In their six losses this season, Walker Valley has been outscored 249-84 by six state-ranked opponents. Soddy-Daisy has been outscored 281-69 in their six losses, in which four were by state ranked teams.
“I think it’s going to be a very evenly matched football game. When you sit there and break things down, I think they scored against district opponents a little less than we have and they’ve given up a little more against district opponents than we have,” Ryan stated. “It’s close, it’s within 20 points here or there; their record is the same as ours, we each have three wins. There are a lot of comparisons.”
Going into Soddy-Daisy Friday night, coach Ryan doesn’t expect an easy win.
“It’s definitely going to be a game we can’t just show up and expect to win. We expect their best game of the year, and hopefully we can give them our best game of the year. We’ve got to play by the book, execute and not make a bunch of mistakes. I’m sure that’s what they are going to be trying to do too,” Ryan explained. “Football comes down to who is going to block, who is going to tackle, and who’s not going to make the mistakes. The team that does those three things will usually come out on top. Every defense is designed to stop, and every offense is designed to score if everyone does their job, and that’s what you hope happens.”
The Mustangs will most likely be without Jonathan Davis, who came back from an injury only to get injured again last week, and quarterback Cory Cook is also questionable for Friday after getting banged up.
According to the coach, backup QB Josh Jones may be getting the start or Tanner Dillard, although they would prefer to keep him at fullback.
“What I want to see our football team do even though the playoff shot is out the door, I want them to go out and play hard, finishing the season on a solid note. I want to send our seniors out with something positive, and be able to jump-start next season with a positive ending,” Ryan stated. “There’s a lot to play for. The winner of this game doesn’t finish in the cellar, while the loser does finish in the cellar of our district. We’re both playing for pride, so I expect it to be a very evenly matched game.”