Sideline Wrapup Matchup: Walker Valley at East Hamilton, two programs on the rise

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East Hamilton in action against Red Bank earlier this season. PHOTO: WTVC SPORTS

Two quality teams will meet in a non-region matchup that will reflect considerably on each team.

East Hamilton's (6-1) only loss was by three points to a stout Red Bank team. Coach Grant Reynolds feels Walker Valley is a team on the rise. Reynolds said, "It starts this week getting ready for Walker Valley because they have a good football team and they play with a lot of energy. Drew's (Akins) done a great job of coaching those guys up over there."

Senior quarterback Haynes Eller and sophomore running back Juan Bullard have been driving forces for the Hurricanes. When it comes to leadership, Reynolds said one senior captain who plays on both sides of the ball points players in the right direction. "You gotta go to Blaine Savage who is our slot receiver and also plays free safety for us. Blaine's played a lot of football over the years. He's the guy that can get us lined up on defense, that makes a key play when we need him on offense."

In 5-A play, Walker Valley's Tucker Pope is number two in the state in passing yards, number one in passing touchdowns. One of his favorite targets has been senior Brody Swafford. Coach Drew Akins said Swafford is truly special. "He's a great kid. He does everything the way he's coached to do it whether it's in the hallways, in the classroom, on the field, it doesn't matter. He's part of our leadership council, he's a 4.0 student, he has a 30 ACT."

Swafford has racked up the yardage and touchdowns. Akins noted that he deserves some local attention. "It's time that Brody starts getting mentioned with those great players because he's definitely one of the elite players in this area."

Both coaches agree, Friday night will be a test for each program. Akins put it this way, "This is definitely a measuring stick for both programs. And, it's an opportunity for our program to kind of step out of the shadows. I've told our kids that this week."