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NET football preview: Dobyns-Bennett hosts Clinton in Tribe's home opener

August 24th, 2011 8:16 pm by Bill Lane

KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett’s football team will play Clinton Thursday nght in its home opener, and coach Graham Clark doesn’t anticipate any greater challenge than what his team went through last weekend.


Between Kingsport and Farragut, the team’s bus ride was halted by two traffic accidents on Interstate 81.


That was just a prelude to what would follow. The Indians’ game was twice delayed by a thunderstorm and didn’t end until around midnight.


D-B defeated Farragut 14-7. It was a happy ending to an otherwise harrowing experience.


To avoid conflict with the Bristol racing program, the D-B/Clinton game is being played one night earlier.


“After having a long weekend,’’ Clark said, “we’ve had a short week to prepare for this game.’’


All the negativity aside, Clark was pleased with D-B’s overall performance. “We were tickled to death to come out of Farragut with a win,’’ he said.


Halfback Devaun Swafford gained 127 yards on 15 carries and strong safety Austin Straley was credited with a team-high 11 tackles. Trevor Gilliam had seven stops and Justin Long six. Will Allen blocked a field goal and Nick Sensabaugh recovered two fumbles. Brad Elpers averaged 38.6 yards with three punts.


Super guard Ty Hayworth threw nine pancake blocks and Chris Cook, in his first start at quarterback, ran the offense with efficiency.


Swafford must have considered it a good omen when he raced 62 yards on a leftside sweep with his first carry of the season.


D-B drove 93 yards for its first touchdown, executing 18 plays and consuming eight minutes.


Just seven minutes into the game, a bolt of lightning had sent the teams to their locker rooms and the fans to their vehicles. The delay lasted 90 minutes. Once back on the field, the ballclubs warmed up and another streak across the sky resulted in 45 more minutes of idleness with the game still scoreless.


“It was almost a scrimmage atmosphere,’’ Clark said. “Something like that takes the edge off what you’ve been working on. Our people were fabulous the way they stuck with us.’’


Clark learned something else from the disruption. “I had all that time to select a play,’’ he said. “We ran a sweep to the right for just 3 yards. That’s too long for me between calls. I’m used to making them in a hurry.’’


D-B outgained the Admirals 302-256.


Clinton lost to Knox Halls 21-12 in its opener. “Clinton botched a kickoff return and it resulted in a safety,’’ Clark said. “That was a back-breaker. (The Dragons) had a hard time trying to overcome it.’’


Clinton got 160 yards on 29 carries by 205-pound tailback Austin Powell. “We’ll have to do a good job at getting him down,’’ Clark said. “The regular quarterback, Alex Willard, has had mononucleosis and did not play. Aaron Bailey, a sophomore, was in his place.


The Dragons have a pair of bruisers up front to block for Powell: center Matthew Pyke (6-2, 300 pounds) and tackle Brad Varner (6-3, 305). Clark noted: “In its I-formation, Clinton will try to pound the ball at you.’’


Defensively, the Dragons’ leader is 6-2, 255-pound nose man Elijah Boies. “He’s by far their best player,’’ Clark said.


The Indians beat Clinton last year 44-14.


D-B, which finished second in the 2010 Associated Press’ 6A state poll, is ranked sixth this year.


NET Capsules


Thursday



Eastside (0-0) at Sullivan North (1-0)


Coach Robbie Norris gave his Raiders a passing grade on their 35-25 victory over Volunteer but he wonders if that will be sufficient enough to get past a team playing its first-ever game — perhaps an emotional one.


North is hosting Eastside, a consolidation of Coeburn and St. Paul, and will be going into battle blindly.


“We know (the Spartans) have some big boys and good running backs,’’ Norris said. “Coeburn won the Cumberland District championship last year. They’ll be attacking from a pro I offense and with twin backs a lot like Volunteer did.’’


Matt Hamilton’s Spartans are built offensively around 168-pound quarterback Caleb Riner, running backs Erikk Banks (170) and Cody Lawson (195) and fullbacks Darren Greear (195) and Nick Sturgill (185).


North started the new season with a bang as first-time starters Kiree Washington, a wingback, and Cory Rowe, the quarterback, had a hand in four touchdowns and combined for 153 yards against the Falcons.


“I’m sure it’ll be a festive atmosphere,’’ Norris said, “with Eastside playing its first game. I was pleased with our first outing but we can play better and smarter. We’re expecting a close, hard-fought game.’’


North fullback/kicker Will White will miss the game because of a foot injury.


Volunteer (0-1) at Sullivan East (1-0)


New coach Mike Locke has the Patriots off to a surprising start. They upset David Crockett last week 46-13 to end a 12-game losing streak. East had lost 17 of its previous 20 games.


“We played as well as we’re capable of playing,’’ Locke said. “Everything went as if we’d scripted it. Hopefully, that momentum will carry over to the Volunteer game.


“Tailback Austin Glover rushed for 230 yards. Quarterback Daniel Truett gained morethan 100 yards and was 3-for-6 passing.’’


Locke realizes the Falcons have potential. Tailback Devin Rogers, who ran for 120 yards against North, is a workhorse. “Rogers runs the ball well,’’ Locke said, “and their quarterback, Houston Harris, can throw it. Volunteer’s defense flies around to the ball.’’


Friday


Daniel Boone (0-1) at Cherokee (1-0)


Boone, humbled by Elizabethton 31-3, faces quite a task against Cherokee. The Trailblazers will have to keep rifle-armed quarterback Ty Ryans and running back Justin House in check, which isn’t likely to be easy.


Cherokee blasted West Greene 59-28 in its opener as Ryans, a 6-4 junior, passed for 341 yards and four TDs.


Conversely, the Chiefs could have their hands full tracking down Boone running backs Cliff Sanders and Austin McLemore.

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