Knox Central is the same team that defeated the Trailblazers in the opening round of last year’s postseason on Boone’s field. And the Bobcats did it with a 16-0 shutout.
The rematch is set for Friday at 7 p.m. on Central’s field.
“We have prepared well and know the opportunity we have in front of us,” said Boone head coach Jeremy Jenkins. “When you get to the second round, the stakes are raised a little higher, so you need to be playing at a high level in all phases.”
Both teams enter with records of 9-2 while Central carries a nine-game winning streak after opening the season with losses to Tennessee High and Knox Fulton.
Knox Central boasts quarterback Dakota Fawver, who has passed for 2,025 yards and 19 touchdowns on the season.
Demetrien Johnson is the biggest receiving threat with 823 yards and five scores.
“Their quarterback is a very good athlete who can beat you with his arm and legs,” said Jenkins. “(Johnson) is the big-play receiver. He makes a ton of plays — either by the deep ball or they will throw the slip screen and if you miss the tackle, he can score.”
The Bobcats bring it on defense, too, with Xavier Washington boasting 100 tackles, 20 for loss, and six sacks.
“He makes defensive plays all over,” said Jenkins. “He is very instinctive and aggressive.”
Boone relies on running back Charlie Cole, who has 1,815 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns this season. Quarterback Easton Harrell provides a strong complement to Cole.
“We can’t have negative plays or turnovers,” said Jenkins. “The No. 1 thing we have to do is match their physicality, especially in the line of scrimmage.”
Science Hill at Maryville (6A)
One thing Science Hill (6-5) doesn’t have to worry about Friday night is pressure.
First, the Hilltoppers are big underdogs against defending Class 6A state football champion and top-ranked Maryville (10-1). Second, the Hilltoppers have been through so many close games this season, nothing should faze them.
“It seems like the kids are loose,” said Hilltoppers’ head coach Stacy Carter. “With all the adversity, we’ve just given everything we’ve had, and everything has been close other than a couple of games.”
Maryville’s lone loss came against rival Alcoa.
Among the key players on offense for Maryville are running back Tee Hodge and wide receiver A.J. Davis. Carter said the Rebels use a pair of quarterbacks, Braden Carnes and Cade Chambers.
“They are both pretty good,” said Carter.
Science Hill’s solid offensive line creates space for running back Chris Thomas. The junior has rushed for 1,382 yards and totaled 18 touchdowns this season.
Tennessee High at David Crockett (5A)
Just one month removed from their dramatic overtime thriller, David Crockett (11-0) and Tennessee High (8-3) get to do it all over again.
Vikings coach Mike Mays is impressed with the Pioneers.
“They play with a lot of heart and are a very confident team. They are 11-0 for a reason. They are just flat-out good.”
Crockett quarterback Cade Larkins has put together a season to remember. He has passed for 3,433 yards, the 10th best single-season total in Tennessee history.
Larkins is also climbing the ladder for single-season touchdown passes with 38.
The Pioneers also boast a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Micah Robinson (1,120 with 14 scores) and Donta Hackler (1,076 with 14 touchdowns).
Also, running back Ronquille Joyner has 824 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
The Vikings’ offense revolves around quarterback Cole McBrayer. He has totaled more than 1,800 yards of offense, including 1,229 through the air. McBrayer has accounted for 27 total touchdowns.
Ryan Gibson has rushed for 659 yards and seven scores on the season.
Sullivan South at Greeneville (4A)
Rebels head coach Justin Hilton said South (8-3) must get off to a better start than it did in the 62-7 loss to Greeneville (11-0) a month ago.
“Obviously we would like to not get down 21 points right off the bat,” said Hilton. “I really love the way our guys have come to work, especially the latter part of the season. We look forward to the opportunity to play the best team in the state.”
Hilton said Greeneville does everything well.
“They block as good on the perimeter as any team I’ve seen,” said Hilton. “They are well coached and have excellent athletes.”
Greeneville is led by quarterback Cade Ballard, receivers Dorien Goddard and Cameron Hite, and other weapons on both sides of the ball.
South leans on quarterback Luke Pollack, who has racked up 2,405 total yards (1,368 rushing) with 29 total touchdowns.
Elizabethton at Anderson County (4A)
The Cyclones (10-1) are looking to avenge last year’s 38-21 loss to the Mavericks (11-0).
But if Elizabethton doesn’t find a way to contain Anderson’s Mr. Football candidate, it will experience the bitter taste of déjà vu. Stanton Martin wrecked the Cyclones for 475 yards of total offense and four touchdowns last year, including 366 passing with three scores.
“You have to live and learn from your mistakes,” said Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten. “We’ve spent 12 months putting a plan together, in case we got a redemption game.”
Martin has thrown for 2,563 yards and 42 touchdowns this year and has completed 70 percent of his passes.
Receiver Michael Carroll went over 1,000 yards last week and has 19 touchdowns on the season — which is one of the top 10 single-season marks in state history. On the ground, Marquis Gallaher and Ryan Moog lead the way. They have combined for more than 1,500 yards rushing and 20-plus touchdowns. Moog is also a receiving threat.
Elizabethton has its own impressive stats, including a quarterback with sweet numbers. Carter Everett has thrown for 2,290 yards with 27 touchdown passes.
And Everett has plenty of receiving options with Corey Russell (872 yards), Evan Perkins (809) and Parker Hughes (565) combining for 28 scores. Russell also has 15 rushing scores, five touchdown passes, and 1,714 all-purpose yards.
Unicoi County at Alcoa (3A)
It’s a tough task, facing the team that many call the best in the state regardless of classification.
The Tornadoes (11-0) have won 16 state championships, including the last three in a row.
“There are just no weak links anywhere to be found,” said Unicoi head coach Drew Rice. “They are extremely talented and very well coached. They are a tremendous team and program.”
The Blue Devils (9-2) have enjoyed one of their best seasons in school history, earning their first playoff win in 33 years with last week’s 27-20 decision against Kingston. They are led by running back Kody Lewis, who has rushed for 1,921 yards and has 26 total touchdowns.
“We will have to try to put some drives together early and limit mistakes,” said Rice. “We can’t afford to give them anything.”
Coalfield at Cloudland (Happy Valley field) (1A)
Even though the game has been moved to Happy Valley because of the condition of Cloudland’s field, the Highlanders (9-2) know the drill. Coalfield (7-4) has made the trip to Carter County each of the last four years and walked away victorious each time.
However, it appears the gap has closed and the Highlanders should have a chance at turning the tide.
Shifty quarterback Peyton McKinney gives Cloudland something to worry about on offense and can make plays on defense, too.
Cloudland counters with running back Jordan Coffey, who has rushed for 1,301 yards and scored 21 touchdowns this season.