SODDY-DAISY — According to Greek mythology the Trojans were able to use a “horse” to their distinct advantage in battle. On Friday night in Soddy-Daisy, the tables were turned as the Walker Valley Mustangs (4-6, 1-5) reared up and gave the Trojans (3-7, 0-6) a swift kick in overtime to finish the season out with a 34-28 victory.
“I wouldn’t trade this group of guys for anything. We’ve been through a lot of heartaches this season but tonight we stepped up and we got it done when we needed to,” Walker Valley head coach Glen Ryan declared. “I’m happy that these seniors get to go out with a win.”
What started out as a Soddy controlled football game in the first half transitioned into Walker Valley’s stomping ground as they overcame a 21-0 deficit, to end the second quarter only trailing the Trojans 28-14.
Soddy-Daisy started off the game with three unanswered touchdowns by 7:19 in the second quarter.
Tanner Dillard was able to get the Mustangs on the board as he made a quick, one-yard tumble into the end zone with 4:42 left in the second quarter.
Following another Trojan touchdown, freshman running back Alex King ran four yards for a Walker Valley touchdown in the final 24 seconds of the first half.
In the second half, it became evident that the Mustangs were not ready to roll over.
“In the first half we were a little shaky and made some mistakes. We came back in the second half though and played. When we got scored before the half they realized that we could play with these guys and felt confident,” Ryan explained. “In the second half the guys realized that Soddy was dragging, and that’s the thing one thing about our football team — we’re in shape.”
Sophomore quarterback Josh Jones threw a 21-yard pass to Cooper Melton, who managed to make a diving catch in the end zone at 7:31 in the third quarter.
“Josh stepped up, made some good throws and did what we asked him to do. He didn’t force things and made things happen for us,” Ryan commented.
The Mustangs attempted two field goals in the fourth quarter, but came up empty handed on each. Sandwiched between the two, was a game tying 10-yard touchdown pass to Dillard from Jones with 6:23 remaining in the game.
Thanks to the defensive efforts of Walker Valley, the Trojans were unable to answer back with any points of their own before time ran out.
“I thought we would be scratching our heads a little bit again with those two missed field goals, but luckily defense came out, did their job and held them,” Ryan stated.
It was Colton Morrow who got the game winning six-yard touchdown for Walker Valley.
Starting at the 10 yard line, Morrow only needed two of the four alloted overtime plays to run the ball in for six points.
A missed PAT left the herd with very little breathing room as Soddy-Daisy began their four overtime plays.
Two running plays positioned the Trojans at the six yard line, but the next two passing attempts fell short, solidifying the Mustangs’ win.
Walker Valley, who was without a number of their starting players Friday, saw the teams’ young players rise to the challenge that had been given by the coaching staff.
“In 28 years of coaching I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of a group of guys as I am of this bunch. They could’ve rolled over, we had so many injuries and non starters out there but we had them step up and get it done,” Ryan stated. “We feel like we have some young kids that are good football players. We told them that they needed to step up, and they answered every bit of that challenge.”
One of those young players whose flame burned bright in the overtime victory was King, who led the team with a total of 148 yards and a touchdown in his 30 rushing attempts.
“I played for the seniors tonight. I couldn’t do anything without them and they are always helping me. I love them to death,” King proclaimed.
Freshman wide receiver Cooper Melton, who has shown glimmers throughout the season, came up big for the Mustangs as well.
In four receptions, Melton had a total of 77 yards.
“It was one guy after another. We had some freshmen step up tonight and make some big plays. Alex King ran the ball hard for us and he ran until he couldn’t run anymore. Then we put Colton Morrow in at tailback and he ran and did a great job,” Ryan commented. “Cooper Melton made some great catches for us tonight. We had guys step up and make plays when we needed to make them.”
Jones completed 9-of-20 attempted passes for a total of 186 yards and tow touchdowns Friday night.
Dillard came up big on both sides of the ball for Walker Valley, with one blocked punt and a pass deflection. He also had three solo tackles and eight assisted tackles as well as two QB sacks.
Hunter Newport had two solo tackles and nine assisted tackles and a sack of his own before leaving the game due to an injury.
Cody McCracken had two solo tackles and nine assisted tackles.
Mustang kicker Kevin Sebany made 4-of-5 extra point attempts and was 0-for-2 on field goal attempts.
The 34-28 victory may have come at the end of a tumulous season for Walker Valley, but for Coach Ryan showed that his team is on the rise.
“It’s a good boost for us going into the offseason to get ready for next year,” Ryan said. “We’ve been down for a real long time in football and I think we’re on the verge of having something that everyone in the north end of the county can be proud of.”