Getting back on the winning track, Walker Valley snapped a three-game snide by stampeding past Soddy-Daisy Friday night in a District 5-AAA showdown at “The Corral.”
Justin Ware, Reggie Mills and Gabe Cartwright led the rampaging Mustangs to a 42-12 victory over the Trojans.
Coach Glen Ryan has been telling his Walker Valley players the way they finished the season was more important than how they started.
His team responded quickly Friday evening with a 62-yard touchdown by Ware, less than two minutes into contest.
The rest of the game, like the ill-fated Trojans, was history. Walker Valley put six touchdowns on the board in the first 20 minutes as Ryan watched as a stampede of Mustangs overtook his old team.
Walker Valley’s second scoring drive started on their own 24 yard line. Ware and Mills alternated runs to place their team four yards from the end zone.
Mills tunneled through the defense for hard-earned paydirt. Trojans grounded the score at 13-0 by blocking Hoffner’s follow-up kick.
Soddy Daisy was kept on their toes, and out of the end zone, the entire first quarter.
The Mustangs next score was set up by a 35-yard run by Cartwright, before quarterback Garrett Wallace threw a 29-yard pass to Dustin Swafford in the end zone.
Swafford leaped. The ball bobbled in his hands. Fans let out an ‘oh’ as he fell. A second ticked by, Swafford held the ball up and the crowd went wild.
The remaining seconds slipped by to end the first quarter with 21-0 on the scoreboard. It was clear the Walker Valley Mustangs were playing to dominate.
Soddy Daisy’s fighting spirit persisted through all four quarters. Trojan’s quarterback, Brett Standifer, completed 11 passes for a 220 yard gain. Blaike Henry, Tyler Hixson and Doug Wilson delivered hard tackles.
These factors did not stop the Mustangs from pounding out three more touchdowns before halftime.
Three minutes into the second quarter, Wallace hooked up with Cartwright for a 29-yard pass, taking the ball into the red zone. Chaz Fulford took the extra yardage to the bank on a 16 yard touchdown run. Brad Hoffner tacked one of his four PAT kicks for a 28-0 advantage.
Keeping the onslaught going, Hunter Newport recovered a Trojan fumbled 45 seconds later, setting up a Wallace to Cartwright connection for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Fans decked out in navy-and-gold cheered for the bucking Mustangs. Thoughts of homecoming and numerous touchdowns had the home stands in a good mood.
Ware’s four-yard touchdown and Hoffner’s kick for extra point sealed the Mustang’s 42 point win a few moments later.
Soddy-Daisy was able to throw a sucker punch to the end zone with 2:53 left in the first half as Brett Standifer found Tyler Dixon for a 48-yard touchdown pass.
After Liza Dender and Nelson Goodman were crowned homecoming queen and king, some fresh faces from the Walker Valley roster took the field.
Cory Cook replaced Wallace at quarterback while Holt Spencer, Jake Johnson, and Chandler Hunt gained yardage for the winning ’Stangs.
A hard defense by both sides resulted in no additional points added to the scoreboard in the third quarter. The closest either team made it to the end zone was 20 yards by Trojans, who got to the edge of the red zone at the 7:30 mark before being repelled.
Soddy-Daisy rallied to make a 30-yard touchdown pass by Standifer to Alex Roberts in the final frame.
Walker Valley fans rose to their feet with a minute left in the game, counting down the final 10 seconds with 42-12 emblazoned on the scoreboard.
“Our game plan was to come out and play football the way we are capable of playing,” Ryan said. “We’ve gone against a couple of buzz saws, you know, two of the better teams (Cleveland, McMinn County) of our region. I’m not taking anything from them, but we also did not play our best and just made the game a lot worse.”
Ryan said he wanted his boys to get out on the field and return to the basics.
“That is what we needed to focus on,” Ryan said. “The guys did a great job in the first half and jumped out to a big lead. It gave us the chance to get some young guys in for the second half for some experience. It was a good ball game all around.”
“We started out the season 3-0 and then we slipped to 3-3. We’ve got the month of October. We’ve got four games left, and we’ve got to go play these games one at a time.”