HARDIN VALLEY — Hardin Valley Academy head coach Wes Jones knows his team has plenty of work to do as it begins the second half of the 2017 season.
The Hawks return to action at home Friday night, Sept. 29, when they host Jefferson County in a Region 1-6A showdown. Opening kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Hardin Valley [3-2 overall, 1-0 in the region] had its open date last week and Jones hopes the rest will benefit his squad, which has region tilts remaining against the Patriots, Science Hill, Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett, Bearden and Farragut — a tough down-the-stretch schedule.
“Another good thing for us is that we’ll be healed up and hopefully have our people back,” Jones said. “[The bye] came at a good time for us because we’ve been so beat up. We haven’t had all of our starters since the first week of the season.”
The Patriots have a reputation for playing a physical brand of football and Jones said he expects Jefferson County [4-2, 0-2] to present a challenge.
“It’s going to be a tough ballgame,” he said. “Every game we have left is going to be tough. [Jefferson County] has changed their offense and they’re physical defensively. They run a double-wing, double-wide [offense] and they rely on their fullback and they’re very physical up front."
Fullback Clay Woods, a senior, is the main weapon running straight ahead. Woods had moments of success running into the heart of Farragut's defense despite a 33-6 FHS road win Friday evening, Sept. 15.
Blake Taylor, senior wide receiver/running back, was the team's biggest threat outside the tackles against Farragut. Quarterback Nathan Seal, a senior, is a threat to run but sometimes struggles to complete passes downfield.
“Defensively, they get a good push up front," Jones said.
Aaron Dykes, HVA senior running back/defensive back who provides explosiveness in the Hawks rushing game, has played through some aches and pains. “Aaron has been hurt,” Jones said.
But Dykes not only played in Hardin Valley’s first five games, he was the top rusher in the Knoxville metro area over that stint.
Dykes has amassed 600 yards and scored nine touchdowns on 97 carries thus far in 2017.
Cam York, sophomore linebacker, and Braylin Jackson, senior defensive lineman, each have 55 tackles and both have terrorized opposing quarterbacks. Jackson has recorded six sacks while York has three.
The Hawks and Patriots have met twice with Hardin Valley winning both meetings. HVA claimed a 24-14 win last year. The Hawks shut out Jefferson County 35-0 in 2015.