The Stallions excelled in all facets of the game while galloping to a 33-22 victory in their home open at “The Stable.”
Dressed in navy-and-gold, the Walker Valley fans crammed the home stands in support of the team. The crowd cheered and screamed throughout the two-hour game.
Hundreds of students rushed the field when the final buzzer sealed the Mustang victory, equalling the number of wins the program had in the previous three seasons combined.
“How do you spell Walker Valley,” asked the public address announcer. “Three and O!”
Fireworks burst into color over the field to celebrate the victory. Coach Glen Ryan gave a rousing speech to the cheers of football players and students alike.
Still, the game could have ended differently. The two teams were evenly matched.
The Mustangs didn’t so much charge through the gates as trotted. Red Bank’s quarterback, Hagen Wilkey, threw a good game but Walker Valley’s defense pressured the Lions. Ryan later called his team’s initial attacks, “sluggish.”
The Lions gained 35 yards with first possession, before keeping Walker Valley’s follow-up drive under 25 yards.
With 1:28 left in the first quarter the Lions roared to the first touchdown on a one-yard plunge. The PAT gave Red Bank a 7-0 lead.
Both sides, evenly matched, stared each other down on defense. The Mustangs continually challenged Red Bank play after play. Repeated tackles by Jerry Shaw and Bradley Franklin begged the question: which is faster, a Mustang or a Lion?
Justin Ware continually picked up speed to bring his team 11 yards from the end zone on a 20-yard run. With less than five minutes in the game, Gabe Cartwright made a six-yard dash for the Walker Valley touchdown. Brad Hoffner kicked the extra point to knot the score at 7-7 with 4:14 left in the half.
The remaining second quarter saw a herd mentality taking over the Mustangs. The defensive line moved up as one to shut down Red Bank’s ground and air attacks. The Lions stubbornly pushed against the herd to line up 11 yards away from the goal line.
Red Bank’s quarterback cocked back and let the ball fly toward his teammate in the back of the end zone. Shaw showed impeccable timing by jumping up for an interception with 20 ticks left on the clock to leave the score even at the intermission.
Red Bank quickly realized a change had taken place in their opponents during the break. The first-half fearsome trot of the Mustangs became a thundering stampede in the second half.
After the Lions clawed and slashed their way to the 11 yard line, deja vu occurred when Shaw once again intercepted the ball and took off on a brutalizing 77-yard return. Walker Valley slammed the Lions forward to set Hoffner up for a 35-yard field goal. The new score blazed 10-7 with 5:05 left in the third quarter.
Walker Valley’s continued defensive pressure fractured the clock-work-timing of Red Bank’s offense. An errant snap sailed over the Lion’s quarterback to land in the end zone. A thundering stampede of Mustangs gave pursuit for a big stop in the backfield. A safety was awarded to give Walker Valley a lead of 12-7.
The Lions ripped up the field for a touchdown three minutes into the fourth quarter. A two-point conversion gave Red Bank a 15-12 lead over the determined Mustangs.
The remaining nine minutes of clock-time gave birth to multiple touchdowns, tackles, and cheers from both crowds.
Cartwright turned on the jets for a 68-yard touchdown on a kick off return. Red Bank gave chase, but when neck-and-neck, the Mustang proved too quick. Cartwright narrowly missed an incoming Lion by diving just over the front pylon. Hoffner’s PAT brought the score to 19-15 with 8:51 left in the fourth quarter.
Jason Ware, Shaw, and fellow ’Stang defenders turned up the heat for a scorching coverage of Red Bank’s offense. Catches were immediately met with tackles, until Walker Valley was once again in possession of the ball.
Walker Valley signal caller Garret Wallace urged his squad toward their end zone with less than seven minutes remaining on the clock.
Wallace spotted Caleb Longley knee deep in paydirt for a tight 26-yard touchdown pass. The following PAT placed Walker Valley firmly ahead at 26-15.
Navy-and-gold fans received a scare Red Bank’s quarterback threw a pass for a 26-yard touchdown. The Lions were four points behind Walker Valley at 26-22 with two minutes remaining in the game.
Twenty-three seconds later, Ware sprinted pass defenders for a 49-yard touchdown run. The crowd roared as they celebrated a sure win.
The scoreboard emblazoned the historic tally across the top of the corral Walker Valley 33, Red Bank 22.
Fireworks burst over “The Corral” as a mob of Walker Valley students congratulated their history-making Mustangs.
“I am so proud of these guys,” Ryan said. “They have such huge hearts. They never quit and they never give up. My hat is off to them. Red Bank is a good team and I tip my hat to them, but I am so proud of these guys.”
“This end of the county deserves this win,” Ryan continued. “We are taking this thing one game at a time. Next week we are going to find out if we are ready to step in there with Bradley and Cleveland High. We have a good challenge next week.”
“At halftime the guys realized we didn’t go through all of this training to play like we were. They recognized all these fans came out and they knew they weren’t playing their best. They came back with hunger in their eyes.”
Ware led the Mustang rushing attack with 85 yards on just nine carries, while Wallace completed 7-of-11 throws for another 84 yards.
Giles McDaniel pulled in a trio of receptions for 44 yards, while Longley snagged a pair for 40.
Walker Valley gained 115 of its 210 yards on first down plays and overcame three lost fumbles by picking of a trio of interceptions.
Red Bank out gained the hosts by 165 yards, with 193 of its 375 yards coming on first down plays. The Lions earned 19 first downs to just a half dozen for the hosts.
Red Bank 7 0 0 15 — 22
Walker Valley 0 7 5 21 — 33
RB — Demetrius Williams 1-yd. run (Christian Velasquez kick), 1:28
WV — Gabe Cartwright 6-yd. run (Brad Hofner kick), 4:41
WV — Hoffner 35-yd. field goal, 5:05
WV — Safety, ball batted through back of end zone, 4:21
RB — Chris Tucker 20-yd. pass from Hagan Wilkey (Williams run), 9:05
WV — Cartwright 68-yd. kickoff return (Hoffner kick), 8:51
WV Caleb Longley 26-yd. pass from Garrett Wallace (Hoffner kick), 5:51
RB — Tucker 22-yd. pass from Wilkey (Velasquez kick), 2:01
WV — Justin Ware 50-yd. run (Hoffner kick), 1:48
Team stats RB WV
First downs 19 6
Rushes-yards 34-141 29-126
Passing yards 234 84
Total yards 375 210
Comp-Att-Int 23-44-3 7-11-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-3
Penalties 3-22 4-47
Rushing: Justin Ware 9-85 TD, Reggie Mills 4-21, Gabe Cartwright 7-10 TD, Garrett Wallace 3-6, Chandler Hunt 4-4 (WV).
Passing: Wallace 7-11, 84-yds. TD (WV).
Receiving: Caleb Longley 2-40 TD, Giles McDaniel 3-44, Cartwright 1-2 (WV).
Records: Red Bank 1-3; Walker Valley 3-0.
High School Football
Team District Overall
Walker Valley 0-0 3-0
McMinn County 1-0 3-1
Bradley Central 1-0 2-2
Cleveland 1-0 2-2
Ooltewah 0-1 2-2
Soddy-Daisy 0-1 1-2
Rhea County 0-1 1-3
Friday, Sept. 7
Walker Valley 33, Red Bank 22
Cleveland 35, Chattanooga Central 13
East Hamilton 41, Bradley Central 7
Farragut 23, McMinn County 10
Siegel 47, Ooltewah 7
Bearden 49, Rhea County 7
Soddy-Daisy had a bye
Friday, Sept. 14
Walker Valley at Cleveland, 7:30
McMinn County at Ooltewah, 7:30
Soddy-Daisy at Rhea County, 7:30
Bradley Central has bye
Team District Overall
Sweetwater 0-0 4-0
Polk County 1-0 3-1
Sequoyah 1-0 3-1
McMinn Central 0-1 1-3
Meigs County 0-1 0-4
Friday, Sept. 7
Polk County 54, Chatt. Christian 14
Loudon 42, McMinn Central 28
Lenior City 38, Sequoyah 13
Sweetwater 29, Oliver Springs 6
Silverdale 33, Meigs County 18
Friday, Sept. 14
Sweetwater at Polk County, 7:30
Meigs County at McMinn Central, 7:30
Cumberland County at Sequoyah, 7:30