Walker Valley first-year head coach Glen Ryan couldn't have been much happier with his offense and defense in each unit's first series in Saturday's city high school football jamboree. The rest, not so much.
Thanks to stopping a late Brainerd conversion run, the Mustangs came out ahead 7-6 in the first of six periods on the second night of the 20-minute continuous-clock exhibitions at Finley Stadium, but they have also won in recent jamborees and not followed up during the season.
"We've got to let them know this is not acceptable," Ryan said. "This is not going to make us or break us, but we need to learn to be more consistent. We can't let up. You see what happens when we let up."
Coming off an 0-10 season, Walker Valley had the opening possession and marched 70 yards in six running plays. The last was a 42-yard run off right tackle by Gabe Cartwright, who was switched from wingback to halfback after last year's leading rusher, Kelvin Wells Jr., transferred to McMinn County. Brad Hoffner made the extra point.
The Panthers picked up one first down on their opening possession, but it was halted on a fourth-and-3 from the Mustangs' 49 when Walker Valley's Tanner Dillard read the jet sweep, shot the through the line and brought down Kaylen Stewart for a 4-yard loss.
From there, Ryan's gripes ranged from sloppy mistakes to missed blocks to offside penalties to giving up big plays.
"We had them fourth-and-1 and let them get by us," Ryan said of Jacoby Ramsey's 41-yard run with less than four minutes remaining. "Then they scored on two passes right after that."
The connections were seam-route hookups from Sam Caffey to Stewart, the score covering 18 yards. The Mustangs' Hunter Newport was among those in on the conversion stop, which came after Brainerd used a timeout with 1:21 remaining.
• Grace Academy 13, East Ridge 0: Senior quarterback Josh Smith passed for a touchdown and made an interception that led to the other Golden Eagles score as Grace dominated its quarter.
Smith picked off Eric McCurdy's pass at the East Ridge 20, and two plays later Will Slack scored on a counter from 5 yards out. Grace went to the air to cover most of its yards on a four-play 69-yard drive to end the quarter, with Smith hitting Drew Shumaker for 41 yards and making a well-executed play-action pass to Austin Powell from 3 yards out.
"We did some good things tonight," said Smith, whose team outgained East Ridge 104 yards to 13. "The fake at the end worked perfectly. We were able to run that four times, and we went back to it for the second touchdown."
Smith hopes the offensive versatility seen Saturday is a portent of things to come.
"With seven seniors, we should be pretty good on offense," he said. "We're going to have to work a little harder on defense, but we should be fairly versatile offensively."
The Pioneers had their biggest play of the quarter on the opening play, but Torrey Hughes' 35-yard run was nullified by penalty, one of five for the team.
• Hixson 8, Silverdale Baptist 7: Silverdale's Spencer Mossburg capped a long first possession by sneaking over from the 1, but the Wildcats answered with two scoring passes. The second proved to be the winning conversion with a little more than seven and a half minutes to play.
Hixson responded to the Seahawks' touchdown on its first drive, scoring when Allante Novene took Gil Brown's pass to the outside along the line of scrimmage and raced 34 yards. Brown then lobbed to Kendrick out of the backfield in the right flat for the go-ahead points.
• Boyd-Buchanan 13, Notre Dame 0: The Bucs dominated their quarter with the Irish, outgaining them 123 yards to minus-12 and getting off 21 plays to six for Notre Dame.
The senior-laden offensive line led by Colton Robinson, Austin Bailey, Calvin Conn, Caleb Campbell and Malik Brewer paved the way for 113 rushing yards -- 52 and a touchdown by Rance Harden and 44 and a score by quarterback Jim Cardwell. Defensively, senior Bailey had a sack and another stop for loss.
• Cleveland 7, Howard 0: After stopping Howard early and forcing a punt, the Blue Raiders covered 74 yards in four plays.
Eric Goodwin made a key block on a wide-receiver screen from quarterback Austin Herink that sprang D.J. Jones for 44 yards on the first play. The last was a 25-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Tyler Davis.
After Reed Allison's falling-back interception of a long pass at Cleveland's 19, the Blue Raiders ran off most of the remaining time before missing a field goal.
• East Hamilton 7, Franklin County 3: Workhorse running back Logan Jackson accounted for 42 of the East Hamilton's 75 total yards, with quarterback Hunter Moore scoring the team's touchdown on a sneak with four minutes to play.
Each team had just one possession, with the Rebels controlling the ball on a lengthy drive to the 9 that ate up eight minutes before the Jackson-led 'Canes drove right back down the field.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...