Three of Walker Valley’s senior football players will have the chance to put on the pads and hit the gridiron one final time together in their high school careers.
On Saturday, Tanner Dillard, Colton Morrow and Garrett Moore will be among the high school contingency representing the state of Tennessee in the 2014 National Guard Border Bowl. The battle on the football field pits Tennessee versus Kentucky and takes place at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
“It’s nice to get to put on the pads one more time. We had a good core group of guys and it’s going to be fun to get to play with a couple of them again,” Dillard stated.
The three senior leaders were informed by Mustangs head coach Glen Ryan just a couple of weeks ago that they had been selected to participate in the Border Bowl.
In order to be considered, players first had to be nominated by their own coach, then have those nominations reviewed by a panel of coaches from the state they play in.
“I’m real excited for them and it couldn’t have happened to a better group of guys. They are all class acts and the types who did everything that we asked them to do. All three were all-district for us,” Ryan proclaimed. “I know that there will be some college coaches up there who are looking for the guys who may have slipped through the cracks.”
While the Mustangs had a trying 2013 season, it comes as no surprise that the three senior leaders were chosen for the Border Bowl.
Out of Walker Valley’s 2,357 total offensive yards, 944 of those yards came from the combined efforts of Dillard and Morrow.
The 6-foot, 175-pound Morrow was the only player who returned to the same offensive position (wide receiver) this season.
In 14 receptions, Morrow averaged 22.4 yards for a total of 313 yards and three touchdowns.
The wingback also had 226 yards in 62 rushing attempts for three touchdowns.
Morrow, who began the season as an outside linebacker, had 12 solo tackles, 40 assisted tackles, two tackles for loss and helped cause five turnovers.
This season Dillard, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, was moved to fullback.
In 51 attempts Dillard ran a total of 272 yards for three touchdowns, as well as making 16 receptions for 133 more yards and a touchdown.
On the defensive side of things, the outside linebacker had 17 solo tackles, 68 assisted tackles, 15 tackles for loss, seven sacks and helped initiate one turnover.
The physical presence and abilities of 6-foot-2, 275-pound guard Moore were touted by Coach Ryan throughout the season.
Not only did Moore help to anchor and lead the Mustangs’ offensive line, he also helped to solidify the team’s D-line.
Moore finished the season with four solo tackles, 26 assisted tackles and one tackle for loss.
Dillard was named District 5-AAA fullback/tight end of the year for 2013, with Moore and Morrow being named to the All-District team as well.
For the three Mustangs, one of the biggest perks of being on the Tennessee All-Stars roster for the state rivalry game is the chance to catch the eye of more college programs.
“I would say there will be a lot of Tennessee and Kentucky colleges watching on Saturday,” Dillard commented.
All three players have already received offers from various schools, but hope to see more come in after the game.
“I’m hoping that after this I will have a couple more offers. It will look good to get my name out a little bit more,” Moore said.
As of now, Dillard has things narrowed down to Appalachian State, UTC and ETSU, Moore has received offers from Kentucky Christian University and Lindsey Wilson College and Morrow has offers from Kentucky Christian as well as Lindsey Wilson, and is also looking into Rhodes College and Sewanee.
“I think the Border Bowl helps with skills and exposure. It helps us get acclimated to a college-type experience and playbook. We’ll also be playing with guys who have higher skill levels,” Morrow commented.
According to the roster, Morrow is listed as a wide receiver and defensive back, Moore is slated for the offensive and defensive lines and Dillard will play at defensive end or elsewhere on the D-line.
In the previous six games, Tennessee has won four times with Kentucky winning the second year and last year’s game.
“I’ve heard there’s a pretty big rivalry between Kentucky and Tennessee so I’m looking forward to it,” Moore stated.
The consensus amongst the three Mustangs is that Tennessee will come back and defeat Kentucky this year.
The National Guard Border Bowl will begin at 12:30 on Saturday, and is also being broadcast on Fox Sports South and Fox College Sports.