By: Gary Dove
WN Sports Writer
An absolutely beautiful August evening ushered in the 2021 high school football season Friday at Vic Nystrom Stadium as McDowell County rivals River View and Mount View prepared to do battle on the gridiron high atop Toms Mountain.
The excitement was at a fevered pitch on several fronts: This was the season opener for the two McDowell County high schools, fans were welcomed , although a limit was in place, after last year’s covid 19 attendance mandates, both teams had questions to be answered after graduation. The host Knights had to almost entirely rework their lines, both offensive and defensive, as well replacing starting quarterback Jesse Rose, while the Raiders were looking to replace a couple offensive positions and were undersized on defense, despite returning several starters.
Those questions and several more were answered after the two-and-a-half hour game, won in convincing fashion 40-0 by the Golden Knights, who sparkled on offense, on defense and with their special teams.
Junior quarterback Ryan Long enhanced his resume by completing 6-pf-10 passes for 148 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the offense.
The skill players , led by wideouts Justin Haggerty and Tony Bailey scored three times between them, as Haggerty caught a scoring pass from 43 yards out and ran for two more on jaunts of 25 and 16 yards. Haggerty rushed for 78 yards on only four carries. Bailey returned a Raider punt 94 yards for a second half TD. Both Haggerty and Bailey are seniors.
Junior Jaylen Hall hauled in three of Long’s completions for 84 yards and the initial score of the evening on a 33 yard pass-and –run.
Adding power to the Mount View rushing attack, senior T. J. Bell ran 13 times for 68 bruising yards and (no pun intended)one bell-ringer.
Remarked third year Golden Knight head coach Maurice Gravely after the win, “This (group of players) is a special bunch. ..If they can keep the momentum up,” he went on before catching himself and changing gears, “This Man team (the Knights’ opponent Friday night at Man) is going to be a true test of where we are.”
Meanwhile, Coach George Kennedy, in his fourth year at the River View helm, said, “A combination of a lot of things: We were sustaining drives and then we would have a penalty, make a mistake. Defensively we were not wrapping up (on tackles). We preached and preached because of the speed they (Knights) have, we just weren’t wrapping up.”
The Raiders received the opening kickoff and drove from their own 18 to their 33, picking up one first down before being forced to punt.
Mount View took possession at its own 46 and launched what would be the first of five scoring drives in its initial six series.
After a seven yard loss and two penalties, the Knights faced a third-and-27 at the River View 33.
Long was pressured, but found Hall over the middle at the Raider 23. The speedy junior caught the football, raced to his right and the set said goalward, completing a 33 yard catch-and-run with 6:41 showing in the opening quarter.
Following a second Raider punt, Mount View set up shop at its own 10 to open a six play, 90 yard march that came to an end on the opening snap of the second chapter when Long spotted Haggerty over the middle and hit him perfectly with a scoring strike that covered 43 yards and put the hosts on top 13-0 after junior Johnathan Huff kicked the first of two PATs.
Bailey forced a River View fumble on the Raiders’ next series, after they had driven from their own 15 to th Mount View 40.
Haggerty scooted 25 yards around left end for his second TD, capping an eight play, 50 yard march with 3:50 left before intermission. Huff again kicked the conversion.
With less than a minute to play before halftime, Huff came up ust short with a 51 yard field goal try, as the Golden Knights led 20-0 at the break.
Mount View opened the second half scoring with a 6 play, 61 yard drive, capped by a 10 yard T. J. Bell burst up the middle to push the lead to 28-0 after Jason Haggerty converted the extra points on a run.
Bailey showed his special teams’ prowess by running back a Raider punt 44 yards to the RV 16 before Justin Haggerty took the handoff on the first play after Bailey’s return and added his third score of the game for a 34-0 Knight lead.
Almost midway through the fourth, another Raider punt, ironically the longest of the night, was taken by a retreating Bailey at his own six, just before he raced to his right and set into motion the 94 yard punt return TD for the final 40-0 victory.
Concluded Coach Kennedy, whose Raiders will be open next week before hosting Sherman on September 10, “We’ll regroup and get after it next week.”
Remarked Coach Gravely, “ River View is going to win some games. I think they were a pretty good challenge for us.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
RIVER VIEW 0 0 0 0 0
MOUNT VIEW 6 14 14 6 40
MV: Jaylen Hall 33 yd pass from Ryan Long (PAT run failed) 6:41
MV: Justin Haggerty 43 yd pass from Long (Johnathan Huff PAT kick) 11:43
MV: Haggerty 25 yd run (Huff PAT kick) 3:50
MV: T. J. Bell 10 yd run (Jason Haggerty PAT run) 8:21
MV: Justin Haggerty 16 yd run (PAT kick failed) 5:23
MV: Tony Bailey 94 yd punt return (PAT kick failed) 6:51
RUSHING: RV 52-195 yds- 3.8 yd avg MV 22-164 yds- 7.5 yd avg
PASSING: RV 2-4, 23 yds, 0 TD, 0 Int MV 6-10 148 yds, 2 TD, 0 Int
TOTAL YARDAGE: RV 218 MV 312
FIRST DOWNS: RV 17 Mv 13
PENALTIES: RV 7-35 MV 12-90
FUMBLES – LOST: RV 2-2 MV 1-1
PUNTS: RV 4-95-23.8 yd avg MV 0-0
OFFENSIVE PLAYS: RV 60 MV 33
RUSHING: RV Michael Picklesimer 22-115 yds, Wyatt Blankenship 22-54 yds MV Justin Haggerty 4-78 yds, T. J. Bell 14-68 yds
PASSING: RV Picklesimer 1-2, 20 yds MV Ryan Long 6-10 148 yds, 2 TD
PASS RECEIVING: RV Josh Proffitt 2-23 yds MV Jaylen Hall 3-84 yds, Justin Haggerty 1-43 yds, T. J. Bell 1-18 yds