Appalachia aims to spark Lions Bowl revival
Daniel Boone, a natural geographic rival, has been making enough noise this season to put Sullivan South on guard in Friday night’s Big 8 Conference football game.
The Trailblazers have allowed a mere three points and eight first downs in two games while upsetting Seymour and shutting out Cherokee.
Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins was on the South staff for six years and its head coach one season. He knows the score.
“Boone always plays well,’’ South coach Stacy Carter said Wednesday before his team’s last full-scale practice of the week. “Jeremy does a good job. Boone competes with everybody. The school did well in the Five Rivers Conference and should also be very competitive in the Big 8.’’
Cliff Sanders, a 165-pound freshman, has burst upon the varsity scene in a big way at Boone. He rushed 23 times for 132 yards against Cherokee, raising his two-game total to 174 yards.
“Cliff was impressive,’’ Jenkins said. “He just happened to be the one with the hot hand last week. We’ve got a four- or five-man committee playing at the running back positions.’’
Boone’s use of split-duty quarterbacks — Kevin Connell and Austin Reppart — could keep South’s reputable defensive unit from taking over the game.
The Trailblazers’ superlatives on defense have been Blake Shropshire, Hayden Chandley, John Barker, Austin Shelton and Matt Duncan.
“Duncan is sure a good-looking rascal at linebacker,’’ Carter said.
What impresses Jenkins most about South is its gigantic line. “(The Rebels) have good size up front,’’ he said. “They clog things up and let those linebackers run to the ball.
“Offensively, South is like a machine — running and throwing. We must tackle well to be in it. We’ll need to move the ball for first downs and keep their offense off the field. We would welcome the opportunity to play smash-mouth ball with them.’’
South passed a rigid test last week with a 35-28 win over powerful Greeneville. The Rebels were bouncing back from a tragic loss — the death of a key player.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Greeneville playing on down the line against Alcoa in the postseason,’’ Carter said.
South senior quarterback Aaron St. Clair has stepped forth to become the team leader. In two games — actually less than seven quarters — he has accounted for 632 total yards. Against Greeneville, he broke a school passing record with 390 yards.
Dobyns-Bennett (0-2, 0-0) at Sullivan Central (0-2, 0-0)
Both teams are 0-2 and getting antsy for a win.
While Clark wants his young team to develop confidence, he has much respect for Central’s personnel. “That quarterback, Taylor Winchell, is a taller Snake Stabler. He slings the ball around to four wide receivers then comes back with the triple option. He is a threat as a runner and passer.’’
Clark said Central’s linebackers — Hunter Jones, Preston Trent and Isaac Ratliff — all run to the ball well.
D-B’s losses have been 26-8 to Farragut, the state’s top-ranked team in 6A, and 28-20 to Clinton, the No. 4-ranked team in 5A. Central has lost to North 28-7 and to Virginia High 27-21.
The Indians’ statistical leaders are running back Chris Sensabaugh with 220 rushing yards on 39 carries and Rusty Clark with seven catches for 92 yards. Defensively, Jason Michael has made 28 tackles and Derrick Steele has caused three fumbles.
Sullivan East (1-1, 0-0) at Sullivan North (2-0, 0-0)
North, the school without a middle school feeder program, is off to another unbeaten start. The Raiders eked out a 28-27 victory at Volunteer last week. Nose guard/tight end Steven Hartsoe and wingback/quarterback Eric Pearcy were North’s standouts.
“We’re enjoying the season but East is going to be a challenge for us. We’re a long way from being where we need to be,’’ North coach Robbie Norris said. “We’ve just got to keep getting better. East played toe-to-toe with Tennessee High for a long time — the score was 7-7 at halftime — and then got a bad break or two. The final score (39-7) was no indication of how competitive the game was. (The Patriots) have a lot of three-year starters. They’re a senior-laden team.’’
East was dealt a blow by Tennessee High when star halfback/outside linebacker Caleb Looney suffered a broken leg while carrying the ball in the third quarter. He has had surgery and will be out for the season.
Science Hill (1-1, 0-0) at Volunteer (0-2, 0-0)
Volunteer coach Scott Rider is looking at the season realistically. He accepts the role of underdog against Science Hill, but wants his Falcons to be opportunistic.
“Hopefully, we’ll just continue to get a little better each week,’’ he said. “We showed signs of improvement against North. (The Raiders) made one more play than we did. We intend to build on what we’ve done.’’
Ryan Mitchell and Armando Canepa quickly got Rider’s attention when he looked at the Hilltoppers on film. “They are a couple of tough tailbacks,’’ he said. “Science Hill also has a bunch of capable wide receivers and an offensive line that gives the quarterbacks time to throw. (The Hilltoppers) are very athletic, have plenty of speed and quickness and bring a lot of pressure with their defense.’’
The Falcons’ standouts are pass-minded QB Luke Cradic and scatback Devin Rogers.
Science Hill, after defeating Soddy-Daisy 24-21, lost to Elizabethton 23-14. Volunteer, before the loss to North, was beaten by Elizabethton 33-6.
Morristown West (1-1, 0-0) at Cherokee (0-2, 0-0)
Mike Sivert’s hard-hitting Chiefs are still searching for their first victory. After losing a 7-6 heartbreaker at Johnson County, they were blanked by a surprising Daniel Boone squad.
Morristown West’s caliber of play has slipped a notch but the Trojans are still the Trojans. They have an army of skilled players.
Cherokee’s big guns are QB Hunter Hamilton, who looks for fleet Matt Hale on most of his passes, and running back Landon House.