There have been homecoming football games at Dobyns-Bennett when the most suspense on the field was provided by some kid in a monkey costume chasing a giant banana out of J. Fred Johnson Stadium.
It probably won’t be that kind of game when the Indians (4-3, 3-0) welcome the Vikings (3-3, 1-1) for tonight’s Big 7 Conference collision.
“We’ve come from behind twice and had chances to come from behind a couple of times. That’s pretty entertaining for a lot of folks,” said D-B coach Graham Clark, whose team turned the tables on Boone in a 35-27 win in Gray last week. “We’ve had a lot of close and exciting games. They may not have entertained me a lot.”
Tennessee High coach Mike Mays has his own cardiac kids who bring a blend of talent and inconsistency. Last week, the Vikings dropped a 35-33 heartbreaker to Science Hill despite committing six turnovers. One of them, a fumble on the exchange, was recovered by the Hilltoppers and returned for a score.
Quarterback Peyton Henley passed for 295 yards, including a 70-yard TD strike to Adam Mitchell. Henley was picked off three times last week, but he boasts a 79 percent completion percentage. He has thrown for 1,482 yards and 18 scores so far. Mitchell has had 31 catches for 602 yards and seven TDs
“Henley slings it like an IHOP cook slings hash browns ... well and often,” Clark quipped. “Adam Mitchell has fabulous hands. I believe he could catch a BB at 70 yards.”
The Vikings have other playmakers, including Zak Kitzmiller, Kauhlil King and Jamil Daggs, but ball security issues overshadowed most of their efforts last week. Tennessee High also missed three point-after kicks: painful, given the final margin.
The return of running back Zach Casey should be a major confidence booster for D-B’s offense. The other skill kids — including QB Josh Holt, Skylar East and Caleb Cook — ought to be all the more effective with him back in the lineup.
The work never ends: two costly turnovers and ineffective execution in third and fourth down situations kept the Tribe from putting a dagger in the Trailblazers until late.
Defensively, D-B had a couple of goal-line stands but allowed too many third-down conversions. That has to change, Clark said.
The Indians should have plenty of incentive to put their best feet forward. Bristol fans should travel well for this one and the house will be swarming with alumni.
Among the esteemed alums expected to show up: Tennessee’s Devaun Swafford and Malik Foreman and Wake Forests’ Ty Haywood. They certainly will be interested in seeing what the kids are doing with the old home place.
“My high school reunion is going to be upstairs. I don’t think I’m going to make it,” Clark said. “To me, it’s exciting. We’ll have a lot of people here that don’t come any other time. And our guys from UT and Wake Forest ... it will be nice to see those guys here.”
Looking over at the Three Rivers Conference, Sullivan North (5-2, 3-0) straps it on for a momentous road trip to Elizabethton (5-1, 2-0).
North coach Robbie Norris doesn’t need The Weather Channel to inform him that there’s a storm brewing in Cyclone country. Led by super talented RB Ethan Thomas, who’s rushed for 1,165 yards and 13 TDs, ’Betsy likes to line it up and smash mouths as much as North nowadays.
Norris is as stoic as ever, in the classical sense of the term.
“Elizabethton is a very talented, very good football game. It’s going to be a big challenge for us and a great opportunity for us to get better,” said Norris, whose squad beat Johnson County 36-22 last week.
In other action of interest, Sullivan South (6-0, 2-0) hosts Sullivan East (1-6, 0-3) in Three Rivers play after taking a week off and South Doyle (4-2, 3-0) goes to Cherokee (2-4, 1-2) for a Five Rivers Conference fracas.
In another Big 7 games, Volunteer (0-6, 0-2) goes to David Crockett (4-3, 1-2) aspiring to succeed where Central failed. The Cougars (3-3, 0-3) stalk down the trail toward Science Hill (4-2, 2-0), hoping to ambush everyone.