Despite the loss of 16 seniors from a team that won only one of 10 games a year ago, Coach Ted Lockerby is moderately optimistic about this year’s Walker Valley football team.
The Mustangs were busy Monday evening during an open practice in front of parents and fans on the Walker Valley field, and Lockerby was busy watching his coaching staff put the Mustangs through their paces.
“Our intensity level is high, but we still need to improve,” said the Walker Valley coach. “Still, we’re better than we’ve been.”
Despite the anticipation of improvement, the Mustangs will be severely challenged with a murderous schedule. There have also been some setbacks from early practices.
Logan Hindman, expected to be the Mustangs’ quarterback, has a banged-up foot and is expected to miss some playing time at the start of the season. His limitations are expected to be real a handicap through preseason drills and scrimmages, as well as in early games.
Lockerby and his staff will get a better idea of the potential of this year’s team later this week, when the Mustangs host Baylor in a 6 p.m. scrimmage on Friday. The Mustangs will follow with a second 6 p.m. scrimmage on their home field next Tuesday against Chattanooga Howard.
Ironically, Walker Valley will face Howard again the following Friday in jamboree action.
Despite some optimism, Coach Lockerby used the two words Monday which dampen enthusiasm at the start of a new season.
“We’re ‘young’ and ‘inexperienced’” he said of his 2010-2011 Walker Valley team.
“We have some good linebackers and linemen, but they are inexperienced,” Lockerby added. “Our secondary is young, and we have only one running back returning.”
There could be a change in attitudes with a change in offensive strategy for the Mustangs. “We’ve changed to an I offense, where we’ve run a spread offense in the past,” said the Mustangs’ coach. “We’ve decided we need to be a ball-control offense.”
The Mustangs will be facing formidable foes from the start. Walker Valley opens its season Aug. 20 at Knoxville Bearden.
The West Knoxville team was 8-2 last season, playing in the same league as playoff contenders Maryville and Farragut. The Bulldogs are expected to be even better this year.
This first game will be a reunion of sorts for Lockerby, who is a good friend of Bearden coach Brad Taylor from their college days at Tennessee Tech.
Also on the Mustangs’ schedule are Cleveland, Bradley Central, Polk County, Brainerd, Rhea County, McMinn Central, Soddy-Daisy, Ooltewah and McMinn County. This would be a challenging schedule for any team, especially a group of Mustangs hoping to rebound from a disappointing campaign a year ago.