The Indians, who are fresh off a win over their biggest rival, Science Hill, will host the Smoky Bears at J. Fred Johnson Stadium. After tough losses to Greeneville and Oak Ridge to start the season, Christian said the Indians realize there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“Our coaches had a great game plan and our kids executed it last week, and I can’t say enough about the job they did,” Christian said. “But when you get your teeth knocked in Week One, and you shoot yourselves in the foot Week Two, there isn’t much chance of a letdown. We had a good win last Friday, but when you look at the film, you still see a lot of mistakes. Good and bad, I told the kids we can reflect back on the game in December when the season is over.”
Both the Indians and Smoky Bears enter the game at 1-2 with Sevier County coming off a tough 40-6 loss to Knox Central last Friday.
However, the Bears were without sophomore quarterback Cam Burden, a dual-threat, who was injured in a season-opening loss to Jefferson County. In his absence, the Smoky Bears have used both Garrett Adams, who ran for three touchdowns against Heritage, and Braden Hurst, who played quarterback for most of the Central game.
“In three games, they’ve lined up in three different offenses and three different defenses,” Christian said. “We’re having to prepare for all those. They’ve done different things to adjust to each different quarterback’s skill set. When No. 2 (Burden) is in there, he’s a special kid. Against Heritage, they played a lot more compressed, more power football.”
The Smoky Bears don’t have the overall size which Dobyns-Bennett has faced in the first three games, but they do have athleticism. An example is Tyler Wilson, who at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds plays both tight end and defensive end.
They also have running back Tyree Bolling, who scored a late touchdown against Heritage, and Collin Russell and Hurst as go-to receivers.
Chris Bohanon is a standout two-way player on the offensive and defensive lines, while the strength of the team is at linebacker.
Dylan McGaha, led the team with 125 tackles last season and plays a style similar to the Indians’ Jet Harris. Other standout linebackers are Chase Justus and Adams.
“No. 33 (McGaha), it seems like he’s been playing six or seven years,” Christian said. “They use him inside in the box, but he gets off blocks well and pursues the football.”
The Indians’ offensive plan is no secret. It’s the same as it has been every week, to control the line of scrimmage, control the clock and limit mistakes. While it was run-heavy with Ian Hicks leading the way against Science Hill, Christian sees senior quarterback Lendon Redwine and his group of receivers, led by Chase Jenkins, opening up the offense a little more in the future.
“Our center started 12 games last year, and Cade Salyers has started like 24 games going into the season. We have the leadership of those two guys in the offensive line,” Christian said. “It felt like we finally gathered some momentum Friday. With Ian, the success he’s had, we were able to break some big runs. We’re trying to open up the passing game when we get the opportunities, and I think we’ll get some good numbers.”