The Mustangs, hoping for a bounce-back season this year after a 1-9 campaign a year ago, will travel to Knoxville Bearden Friday night to face one of the top-ranked teams in preseason state predictions.
The host Bulldogs went 8-2 last season and competed in the TSSAA playoffs. Bearden did not earn one of the automatic playoffs spots ... playing in the same district with highly regarded Maryville and Farragut.
Walker Valley coach Ted Lockerby has high regard for the Bearden football team which returns a majority of its starters from a year ago.
“They have their complete backfield back including the quarterback and fullback,” said the Mustang coach. As if that wasn’t enough, the powerful Bulldogs’ attack includes returning tailback Devlin Young who Lockerby says “could be the best running back in the state.”
Not that Lockerby belittles his team or its competitive spirit, but the Walker Valley coach feels Friday night may be the biggest challenge of the year for his team.
“We need some good things to happen,” he emphasized. “If not, it could get ugly.”
Lockerby said the Walker Valley players who were on the roster a year ago have an idea as to the strength of the Bearden team. “They know what they’ll be going up against,” he said.
Bearden came to Walker Valley a year ago and defeated the Mustangs, 44-0.
Another handicap for Walker Valley is that quarterback Logan Hindman, projected as the Mustangs’ starter this season, will not dress for the game. Hindman is out with an injured foot but is expected to return for the second game against Chattanooga Brainerd.
Sophomore Garrett Wallace will get the start at quarterback against Bearden and his lack of experience may be a huge factor. It could be like tossing Daniel to the lions although this will be Bulldogs instead of lions.
Wallace has been taking snaps in practice and in preseason scrimmages and practice, but that opposition may not compare to Friday’s test against one of Tennessee’s outstanding teams.
“We will have to perform, and we must show up ready to play,” said Lockerby of Friday night’s prospects. The “intensity” he has been stressing in preseason workouts will need to be there for the Mustangs.
He repeated his words of caution. “If not, it could get ugly,” he said.