HV dishes out Whaley-flavored defeat to C-Gap

Photo by Rick Harris
Warrior tailback Tim Whaley takes off on a 35-yard touchdown run.

By Jeff Birchfield
Happy Valley used Tim Whaley like a cafeteria worker doles out school lunch against Cumberland Gap Friday night. You may not like it, but we're going to serve it to you anyway.
Whaley rushed for 151 yards on 25 carries, caught two passes for 30 yards and had another 55 return yards in the Warriors, 35-15 win over the visiting Panthers.
"Our line did awesome," said Whaley, who racked up 92 rushing yards in the first quarter alone. "It was one of the best games they've had. You couldn't do much better than they did and we got the job done."
Referring to the Panthers coming into the game atop the Watauga Conference standings, Whaley said, "We came in mentally prepared for this. We knew Cumberland Gap was number one in the conference and we wanted to take that from them. We knew we had to work as hard as we could."
Starting with a strong defensive stand, Happy Valley (2-1, 6-1) blocked a punt off the foot of Cumberland Gap's Chris Inman for a safety less than two minutes into the contest and a 2-0 HV lead.
Once they had possession, the Warriors ladled out a big trayful of Whaley on their first offensive series. After Lance Whitehead made a 3-yard run, Whaley had the next three touches. Runs of 3 and 4 yards preceded a 35-yard dash to the end zone. Casey Shatley's extra point gave the Maroon and White a 9-0 advantage.
The Panthers responded with a quick 58-yard drive, but blew an opportunity to make a game of it, when they fumbled the ball down at the Warrior 1-yard line.
The missed chance to make it a two or three point game offered a big momentum swing.
"That made it a whole different game," said CG coach DeLynn Cline. "We had the ball at the one, right after we allowed the long touchdown run and had the punt blocked. Whaley's a good runner, but we missed some tackles. After we fell behind in the first half, it dictated what we did both offensively and defensively."
If feeding them an entree of Whaley wasn't bad enough, side dishes for the Panthers included a slice of Hamm, a hard to crack Shell and a Dove bar for dessert.
Tight end Derrick Hamm caught a Todd Caldwell pass and raced 63 yards to the end zone to put the Warriors up 16-0 at the start of the second quarter.
"I've never run that fast in my life," said Hamm. "Todd's a good quarterback and the ball just fell in my hands. I had a chance on that same route earlier in the season and I missed it. It just barely tipped my hands. Tonight came down to who played with more heart and we had it."
Happy Valley had a chance to build on the lead their next series when Shatley missed on a 30-yard field goal attempt. He made up for it later in the quarter, knocking one in from 25 yards out and a 19-0 lead.
Cumberland Gap finally got on the board when quarterback Corey Russell directed a 76-yard scoring drive right before the half. He was 4-of-7 on the march with all 76 yards coming by his arm. Zeth Clemons caught a 4-yard td pass with 34 seconds remaining. Caleb Medley followed by catching the two-point conversion from Russell, which shrunk the lead to 19-8 before the whistle sounded.
To start the second half, Cumberland Gap's menu read for more Whaley. He ran the ball on six of seven Warrior plays on a drive that put the Tribe on top 26-8. He even tried his hand at field goal kicking later in the quarter, but his 29-yard attempt was wide left.
Following a three and out series for C-Gap, a second safety occurred when a bad snap forced Panther punter Matt Hensley to fall on the ball in the end zone. Up 28-8, Happy Valley's last score came when Caldwell turned a quarterback keeper into a 22-yard run to glory. Shatley's extra-point put the Warriors ahead 35-8.
The Panthers scored late in the ball game after Clemons crossed the goal line from two yards out. With the extra-point good, the final score showed a 20-point win for Happy Valley.
Shell was a constant nuisance to the Cumberland Gap gameplan. He made two tackles behind the line of scrimmage as the Warriors held the visitors to only 7 rushing yards on 18 attempts.
Dove was another stalwart on defense, constantly putting pressure on Russell. He also excelled on special teams, making two big coverage tackles.
"It was great teamwork," said Dove. "I was anxious to come out and play. They said they were going to beat us, but we wanted to show them what we were made of. He (Russell) was a good quarterback and he has good wheels, but we were able to contain him."
Fittingly on Senior Night, several last year players including those mentioned had brilliant efforts for HV.
"I know we were playing seven or eight defensive linemen and were rotating in a lot of players," said Warrior coach Stan Ogg. "I know I saw Chris Dove, Austin Shell and Daniel Guinn all make some big plays. The kids did a good job getting pressure on the quarterback.
"Whaley ran hard and he ran through several tackles. We had a lot of people playing well, but the seniors tonight really did step up."
Even in the lopsided defeat, Russell managed to put on a quarterback clinic. He escaped several sack attempts and if it weren't for a dropped pass that would have been a long TD and an 80-yard TD pass that was called back, the Panther QB could have topped 350 throwing yards. Medley was his target of choice with five catches for 112 yards.
Next up for Happy Valley is a huge conference game at Hampton, with the winner being the frontrunner to host a playoff game. Cumberland Gap, now at 2-1, 4-2, will try to get back on track in a homecoming matchup against neighboring Thomas Walker, Va.