Warriors hope for different outcome versus Rockwood

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Happy Valley Warriors enter the first round of the TSSAA Playoffs on a mission.
   With homefield advantage and two of the top three rushers in the Watauga Conference on their side, the Warriors will face a rematch with region two power Rockwood.
   The Tigers won the first meeting 34-7 after a strong performance out of quarterback Preston Gallaher.
   The Warriors enter the contest as the obvious underdog, and according to coach Stan Ogg, it doesn't concern them.
   "That's what they're saying," said Ogg. "We're going to lose by 26 points, but that doesn't concern us being the underdog. What concerns us is Rockwood."
   The only difference between this week's contest and the one earlier in the season is that the season rides on every play. This is a must win for both teams, and Coach Ogg knows that it will be a tough test for his team.
   "We've had a positive approach to this," he said Wednesday afternoon. "The players look forward to the challenge."
   Rockwood is led by Gallaher, who has over 1,000 total yards for his team with eight touchdowns rushing and passing. He is backed by James Thompson and Bryson Pryor, both with 600 yards rushing for the Tigers.
   "We need to do a better job of containing him," Ogg said. "He hurt us on some good plays running and throwing the ball. We've got to keep him between the tackles.
   "They've been on a tear, on both sides of the ball since the last time we played them. We've studied film and we know what they look like and how they play."
   Pryor is a star on defense, recording 97 tackles in the regular season. Defensively, he will be joined by Joseph Bowman (90 tackles/4 sacks), Zack Hamby (84 tackles) and Zach Scruggs (60 tackles/2 sacks).
   "Pryor is a good linebacker and Bowman is an outstanding end," said Ogg. "They both made play after play against us. Their defense is very sound and solid.
   "Their play technique is well, and they are very hard and quick. We had a lot to correct against them. We've got to try to not let them do what they want against us."
   It could be the final game for Happy Valley seniors Cody Cannon, Lamar Rollins, James Matherly and Kenneth Campbell. But each of them believe that they can pull it out, and hope for the best this week.
   "We're the underdogs, we know that," said Cannon. "We didn't do well against them the first time. Hopefully, we'll play well with Lamar back and healthy."
   "We've changed a lot since then, we've got to get outside so we can hope to contain them. They are a fast team, so we've got to score a lot and control the clock."
   "We just gotta work hard and do everything right," said Rollins. "It will take a perfect game to beat them. They are a good team, and we can't turn the ball over."
   Said Campbell: "We've got to go in and take control. The coaches have done a heck of a job preparing us for this week. We should be prepared mentally."
   "It's a big game," said Matherly. "It means a lot to our seniors, we can't give up on them. We've went three years without a win in the playoffs. They are a good team. We just want it."
   If the Warriors push Rockwood into a clutch time setting, the game will fall into the hands of Tim Whaley to pull Happy Valley into it.
   "They beat us the first time," said Whaley. "I thought we outplayed them physically, but they outplayed us mentally. We need to play as hard as we can, and hopefully we can come out with a win."
   Said Michael Everhardt: "We should do pretty well. They have a good defense. I hope we'll hold Rockwood's offense and maybe Tim and Cody will pull through for us."
   A big part of the game will rely on Happy Valley's line, and frontman Jordy Harrison will have to spearhead the attack.
   "I've kept looking at film and how we played, and it's a wonder the score wasn't worse," he said. "We've got to play better and give it all we've got. We love these seniors and we want to keep playing football.
   "We had a bad game against them the last time, they whipped us. We just want to go out there and give them what they didn't see."
   Said Ogg: "We've got to look at what they did against us and try to find weaknesses, so we can do a better job of defending their attack. It's the first time I've been against a team twice in a season in 20 years. It doesn't happen too much.
   "We went into the games with them knowing that we could see them again. We just can't do like we did the past two times and break down. We've got to prepare for what we've seen of them."
   If Happy Valley enters Friday night's game with the intensity they have shown in practice this week, an upset might be lure on Warrior Hill.