Valley shut out in jamboree at Opelika

Published 11:03 pm Friday, May 17, 2019

OPELIKA — It was a tough spring scrimmage for the Valley Rams as they were shut out by the Opelika Bulldogs on Friday night. The scoreboard was turned off after Opelika went up 28-0, Valley head football coach Buster Daniel said.

“We just couldn’t get anything going on either side of the ball,” Daniel said. “We didn’t tackle very well, we didn’t block well and quarterbacks didn’t make good reads. Those are the things that you need to win football games, and we just didn’t do that. We didn’t do a very good job at all.”

Last season’s starting quarterback Eli Culpepper decided to step away from the team for his upcoming senior year, as he also plays on the school’s baseball team. 

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Rising junior Gabe Harmon was the top backup in 2018, and he even was involved in a quarterback battle with Culpepper last summer.

Harmon started on Friday night, but didn’t separate himself from the rest of the group of M.J. Atkinson, Will Kennedy and John White, according to Daniel.

“Even after tonight, I don’t think that there’s a true starter yet,” he said. “They both [White and Harmon] made some decent plays, and they both made mistakes. I can fix mistakes. As long as they play hard, and they both did. There’s not a true starter, we’ll figure that out by the time the summer’s over.”

Daniel said that he was encouraged by the play of his freshmen on Friday night against a quality 6A school like Opelika, and that the team will begin workouts on June 5. 

“We had a great spring,” Daniel said. “This was one of the best springs that I have ever had in 25 years. We’ve got great kids, the attitudes are great, the work ethic is great, it’s just the fact that we played a better football team tonight, and we didn’t respond. That’s what it was.”

The Rams will participate in a few 7-on-7s again this summer against Auburn High School, and potentially Opelika.

“We’re not a big 7-on-7 team, but I enjoy doing it with other teams,” he said. “That way we get our offensive and defensive line working also. That’s what it’s all about so we’re going to do a couple of things this summer.”