‘Getting out of its own way,’ HVA crushes M-West

Grayson Vaughn, Hardin Valley Academy senior quarterback, proves to be elusive on this open-field run against Morristown West Friday evening, Sept. 14, at HVA. The Hawks won 51-10.
HARDIN VALLEY — A renewed emphasis on “the simple stuff” on Homecoming Night at Hardin Valley Academy, plus a three-touchdown performance led to a 41-point Region 1-6A blowout win for the Hawks.

“Our main focus all week was, ‘Hardin Valley’s got to get out of Hardin Valley’s way,’ so this week (in practice) we pretty much focused on all the simple stuff,” said Luke DeFur, senior receiver/linebacker who led HVA in tackles with 10, about the Hawks’ destruction of Morristown West 51-10 Friday evening, Sept. 14.

“We put it all together.”

Junior Kelton Gunn electrified the HVA crowd by returning the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, one of his three scoring plays.

“I wanted to take it to the house, and I saw a hole and I just used my speed,” said Gunn, a standout running back who added a 2-yard scoring run plus an 11-yard TD reception from senior quarterback Grayson Vaughn. He rushed 11 times for 60 yards.

“My team stepped up and made my job easier,” he added.

“Kelton played a great football game,” HVA head coach Wes Jones said.

Gunn’s 37-yard reception set up Josiah Lambert’s 22-yard field goal. Lambert, a senior, also added six extra points and six touchbacks.

“Special teams was great tonight,” Jones said. “Coach (Mark) Giles has got us in some situations a couple of times this year with our kickoff return team.”

Adrian Garcia, sophomore running back, earned high praise while scoring on runs of 3 and 12 yards (12 carries for 80 yards).

“Kelton and Garcia, those two guys are just getting better every week,” Jones said. “It was nice to see us make some interceptions and get some defensive momentum as well.”

Senior Noah Moro had an interception, which he returned 46 yards, and six tackles. Hawk Alex Banegas recovered a fumble.

Hardin Valley (3-2, 1-0) was motivated by its own “undisciplined” performance at Knoxville Central the previous week according to Jones, losing 35-20.

“I had high hopes for us coming into this game. I told our kids I needed this week as much as they needed this week,” Jones said. “I needed them to believe in us (coaching staff) as much as they needed me to believe in them.”

“We decided that we needed to pick our spirits up, pick each other up and go out and play as a team,” said HVA senior Loch Hardin, linebacker/running back who had a 2-yard scoring, an interception and eight tackles.

“Don’t count us out in the region (race).”

Defensive backs Cartez Campbell, a senior, and Vaughn Hudgins, a junior, each had eight tackles.

In addition to his 24-yard run, Grayson Vaughn connected with Cameron York on a 5-yard TD pass plus a 32-yard strike to York setting up his 12-yard scoring pass to Gunn.

“The line really picked it up this week,” Vaughn said about offensive linemen Nick Spencer and Dawson Hardesty, seniors; Ian Salyer and Isaac Wilhite, sophomores; and junior Maverick Mount. “They were really working together as a unit, as a group, and that made everything flow really easily.

“The passing game did well, the receivers were getting off their (defenders),” he added.

Hardin Valley ended with a 411-266 edge in total yards.

“Tonight we took care of the ball for the most part,” Jones said. “… Our kids played aggressive.”