On a senior night when Ooltewah retired the jersey of University of Tennessee standout Jacques Smith, Owls 12th-graders Brody Binder and Mike Williams left their own indelible marks during their final regular-season game in James Monroe Stadium.
Playing for a second straight week with fellow senior and powerhouse tailback Desmond Pittman on the sideline, Binder and Williams made their own bids for future jersey ceremonies. The senior duo paced the Owls' fast-break offense to a 42-14 victory over Walker Valley.
Binder threw for four touchdowns and 379 yards on 19-of-29 passing, while Williams caught two of Binder's scoring strikes (68 and 33 yards) and rushed for a third TD that put Ooltewah up 35-7 with four minutes left in the third quarter in the District 5-AAA contest.
Anthony Turner caught two bombs from Binder, resulting in touchdowns of 77 yards and 49 yards. Turner's final score, with 5:33 left in the fourth quarter, iced the game for Ooltewah (7-1, 4-0).
"It was an awesome night," said Binder, who viewed the Smith jersey retirement prior to taking the field in the second half. "[The ceremony] was great. And to be able to come out and play well in front of my parents and everyone meant a lot. It's been a great season, and I hope we can come back here this year and win some playoff games."
"We knew that Des was going to be out again, and we knew that we need to step it up," said Williams, whose 33-yard TD grab was an over-the-shoulder leaping connection and a great follow-up to his open-field sprint that turned a 68-yard flanker screen into the first score of the game. "We've been working hard since we lost to Columbia last November. We are looking forward to what's ahead."
"We've had some good senior leadership and they are a very talented group," said Ooltewah coach Mac Bryan, whose defense again was stout against the opportunistic Mustangs. "Our guys bought into what we wanted to do as a staff very early on. The kids really like the style of play, and it's been a great year. Tonight we knew Walker Valley was going to be tough. They always are. But I thought our defense played really well and our guys came up with some big plays."
Binder cited the work of fellow senior John Morgan in filling the void left by sophore linebacker Jerimiah Jackson, who was injured in the first quarter. Morgan, who was second on the team in tackles for the night with six, while Rashaun Pittman led Ooltewah's defense with 11 stops and four assists.
Walker Valley (3-4, 0-3) stood firm throughout the first half, using special teams and ball control to stay in the game. Colton Morrow returned the kickoff following Williams' opening touchdown 98 yards to the 2. Two plays later, Morrow tied the game at 7 .
The Mustangs used a fake punt and 30-yard run by up back Jonathan Davis to move the ball deep into Owls territory. However, Ooltewah used its no-huddle offense to control the tempo of the game for most of the second half.
"Ooltewah's a great football team with a lot of weapons, and our guys did a good job early on of making some plays," said Walker Valley coach Glen Ryan, whose team got its second score on a 3-yard yard by Chandler Hall with 11 minutes left in the game. "I was proud of guys. They showed some flashes out there of what we can be."
Contact Greg Thompson at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.