Herd wants better grade on gridiron
by RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Sports Editor
Aug 01, 2014 | 1060 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print

WALKER VALLEY’S TUCKER MENDENHALL breaks away from the Hixson defense as head coach Glen Ryan, background, looks on during a scrimmage between the Mustangs and Wildcats at Charleston Field, Thursday. Banner photo, LYNNAE ROBERTS
WALKER VALLEY’S TUCKER MENDENHALL breaks away from the Hixson defense as head coach Glen Ryan, background, looks on during a scrimmage between the Mustangs and Wildcats at Charleston Field, Thursday. Banner photo, LYNNAE ROBERTS
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Glen Ryan gave his Mustangs a grade of B- after their first traditional scrimmage of the season Thursday at Charleston Elementary School football field.

It was consistency he was looking for but did not get during the entire two-hour controlled practice session against Hixson. The Mustangs looked in more midseason form at times, while falling short of Ryan’s expectations at others.

“We’re getting there. We’re still not where we need to be. But that’s what these things are all about. You find out where you are, find out what you are doing good and find out what you’ve got to keep working on,” Ryan said as the Mustangs meandered off the field. “We’ve still got a couple more weeks before the jamboree then another week after that we open up for real.That’s when it counts and that’s when we’ve got to be ready.”

Ryan said he feels like Walker Valley progressed nicely over the summer and has continued the gains during the early season practice sessions.

“I feel like we’re a little ahead of the game. We worked really hard, had a good spring and worked hard this summer. I feel like we’re a little ahead of the game from where we normally would be this time of year,” said the coach. “Our special teams were sharper and everything looked fairly crisp for this early. We’ve just got to keep working on getting better now.”

After a series of preliminaries in which the Mustangs and Wildcats practiced non-contact kickoff, punt, extra point and field goals, the scrimmage took a more serious turn when the teams squared off in 10-play per side, full contact red zone football.

The Wildcats struck first on the first play, with a 20-yard touchdown pass that woke up the Walker Valley defense. Hixson scored again on the seventh play from scrimmage on a short run.

The Mustangs were quick to answer on an Avery Jones 15-yard run and a 15-yard TD run by Alex King after a five-yard penalty nullified a 5-yard touchdown by Jones.

Hixson scored two more times on its next possession with second line Wildcats and Mustangs taking the field. Walker Valley matched the Wildcats with a TD pass from Hayden Spencer to Donell Armour and a 20-yard run also by Armour.

Defensively, the Mustangs held Hixson scores on its first possession in the 70-yard down and distance portion of the evening. Walker Valley, with Josh Jones under center, marched to a score on a Jones to King 17-yard TD toss.

Hixson answered with a score but the Mustangs followed with a Dallas Kuykendall catch good for 39 yards setting up a scoring pass from eight yards out.

A fumble recovered by Walker Valley set up the highlight of the night when Jones broke free on the next play and raced 70 yards through and around the Hixson defense for the score.

“I thought Josh had a good day. Alex King and Avery both had a good night moving and running the football. Our receivers did a good job. Mason Oran, Logan Melton, Bryce Nunnelly and Grayson Rountree all did some good, quality things for us. Donell Did some good things with the younger set. Kolten Gibson did a nice job when he came in. Hayden Spencer did a good job ad quarterback and running back. Wherever we put that guy he is going to give you everything he’s got,” lauded Ryan. “I thought our linemen did a pretty good job overall. There were a few breakdowns, but overall they did a good job.”

The Mustangs host Brainerd, Marion County and Knox Catholic tonight beginning at 6 in a four-way scrimmage at Charleston Field.

We’ve got to keep working. We’ve got to keep getting better defensively. We were a little inconsistent there. We’ve got to get to where we are a good, solid defense and keep polishing the offense, working special teams so in three weeks we are hitting on all cylinders,” said Ryan.