Hardin Valley Academy’s football team got off to a sluggish start and lost its first two games of the 2017 football season.
But the Hawks have rebounded to win their last two games. After tough losses to Oak Ridge and West High, HVA has posted consecutive wins over Heritage [44-26] and Central [26-7].
The Hawks [2-2 overall] look to continue their winning ways when they head to Hamblen County to take on Morristown West Friday evening, Sept. 15. It will be the Region 1-6A opener for Hardin Valley and the first-ever meeting between the Hawks and the Trojans [1-2 overall, 0-1 in the region].
“This is a very important game for us because it’s a region game for us,” HVA head coach Wes Jones said. “It’s our first one.
“They’ve had a week off to get ready for us because they [had an] open [date] last week.”
Jones isn’t taking Morristown West lightly, despite its 1-2 record.
“They’re a very good football team and they’ve played some good people,” Jones said. “We had film on them against Farragut and Greeneville and those are two pretty good teams. They played Morristown East and beat them during the first week.”
Under head coach Alvin Sanders, the Trojans have lost two straight games. They were routed by the Greene Devils and the Admirals before taking off last week. Morristown West beat Morristown East 42-20 in the annual showdown for Hamblen County bragging rights.
That was the first game as head coach for Sanders, who replaced Lamar Brown, who now coaches at Knoxville West and has the Runnin’ Rebels off to a 3-1 start.
Winning streaks are fine for the Hawks, but Jones isn’t worried about those.
“For us, it’s not about winning streaks,” he said. “We have to worry about Hardin Valley and we have to execute better.
“The effort has been there and our kids have played hard all year. We’ve executed better but we’re still not executing like we want to. If we had executed like I think we can, like I know we can, we’d be undefeated right now,” he added.
HVA has one of the area’s top running backs in senior Aaron Dykes. He had 192 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Bobcats [1-3].
Defensively, junior Luke DeFur had 16 tackles and a sack against Central.
Key players for the Trojans include: Zach Young [a junior quarterback who has been pressed into service since starter John Foreback was injured against the Hurricanes]; Juan Villasenor [a kicker, who has been solid this season]; Jadon Payne [a junior running back]; Colton Misenheimer [a senior wide receiver]and Brian Stewart [a junior wide receiver].
Jones said Young changes Morristown West’s offense.
“He can throw and he can run,” Jones said. “He brings a different dynamic to their offense.
“I don’t think they will have their starter back but we have to prepare for both of them.”
HVA 26 CENTRAL 7
The Hawks overcame an interception by Bobcats defensive lineman Jalynn Clemons, on the first HVA offensive series, setting up Central’s only points.
Dykes had a 54-yard scoring run where he broke two tackles, then reversed direction on a right diagonal trek to the end zone, which put the Hawks ahead for good 13-7 late in the second quarter.
He also scored on runs of 6 and 3 yards. “He had a fantastic night running the football,” Jones said.
Rock Hardin, HVA junior running back/linebacker who assumed a big second-half rushing role, scored from 4 yards out late.
Junior Josiah Lambert, Hawks kicker, converted two extra points.
Led by DeFur, “I think our defense played well,” Jones said.
With Central forced to play its third-string quarterback, a freshman, “We knew pretty much that they weren’t going over top on us, so we could really tee off on their run game and their short passing game,” Jones said.