GLENHAYES – The Tolsia Rebels continued to ride the momentum generated in last week’s win with a dominating performance Friday night against Tug Valley, winning 34-14 at Wilts Sammons Athletic Field at Tolsia High School.
Tolsia’s Orange Crush defense gave the offense plenty of time to work, dominating the Panthers at the line of scrimmage allowing negative one yard of rushing and 16 through the air in the first half.
Tolsia Coach Mike Smith attributes the complete win to preparation.
“They’re learning how to prepare,” he said. “They’re learning that the week leading up matters. Tuesday we had a bad practice and I sat the team down and talked them and explained why it is so important to prepare. And they saw tonight why it is so important.”
From the first play to the last, Tug Valley never found an offensive rhythm and finished the game with 103 total offensive yards, 50 of which came late in the fourth quarter on a final desperate pass from Tyler Conley to Aaron Copley for a touchdown.
Conley finished 4-of-11 for a hard fought 66 yards. The Panther sophomore found it hard to get a pass off considering that the Rebel defense was in the backfield almost as much as the Tug Valley (2-3) running backs.
Pressure from Tolsia’s defense caused numerous hurried throws that sailed wide of their intended targets.
The Rebels (2-3) racked up four quarterback sacks with one by Jennings Holland for a safety after a series of plays and penalties put the Panthers on their own 2-yard line three minutes before intermission.
Tolsia’s ground game hit on all cylinders, finishing with 219 yards opening up the pass for quarterback Blake Rose who finished 5-of-14 for 116 yards and a 48-yard strike to Nathan Marshall in the third quarter for a score.
“I think our young offensive line did a good job,” Smith said. “They’re getting better every week and with young kids that happens. They are learning that even though you are 14 years old, you have to play like a man on Friday night.”
Rose threw one interception in the fourth quarter that was returned by Copley 90 yards for a touchdown.
“Overall, I think Blake and the guys played really well,” Smith said.
The Rebels showcased an emerging “one-two” threat in senior back Brandon Ward and sophomore Luke Presley in the first half.
“That’s no surprise that Luke is playing as well as he is,” Smith said. “He’s fast, he’s strong, and he’s agile. People are going to be seeing him for two more years.”
Ward and Presley had piled up 105 rushing yards between them with a little over three minutes left in the second quarter. The showcase didn’t go the distance as Presley left the game after he was injured on a scoring attempt.
“Presley should be okay,” Smith said. “He has a high ankle sprain and since we’re going into an off-week it should give him time to heal. I think he’ll be fine.”
With Presley’s exit, Ward shouldered the responsibility of keeping the running game alive and finished with 112 yards on 16 carries and a pair of touchdowns for three yards in the second quarter and seven yards in the fourth.
“Ward had a super game,” Smith said. “He did everything we asked of him.”
Tolsia is open next Friday and will return to action the following week when they travel north to face Roane County.
“We don’t really know much about them,” Smith said. “I’m going to get in touch with Roane County and see if they want to trade film. We’ll see what happens.”