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Hilltoppers wearing wounds of tough schedule

Douglas Fritz • Sep 24, 2018 at 9:16 PM

It has been a tough six weeks for Science Hill’s football team.

But the Hilltoppers have been a tougher foe than their 2-4 record indicates. They had the blowout loss to Greeneville, but their other setbacks went down to the final minute of each game.

Science Hill’s two victories were the only losses those teams — Ooltewah and Bearden, both 5-1 — have so far this season. The Hilltoppers beat Ooltewah 35-34 in Week 2 and knocked off Bearden 28-21 in Week 5.

So perhaps it’s can be said the Hilltoppers have been the victim of a tough schedule. Their opponents’ combined record is 27-6. Another undefeated team is up next as the Hilltoppers host Farragut.


After starting 0-3 and allowing 133 points in that stretch, South Greene has turned its season around. The Rebels have three straight wins, allowing 55 points in those games.

In the process, South Greene has emerged as a Region 1-2A title contender.


Greeneville quarterback Cade Ballard is not the only area player with more touchdown passes than incompletions after Friday night.

Corey Russell, a running back, receiver and quarterback for Elizabethton, matched Ballard after a standout performance. Russell took extra snaps at quarterback after Carter Everett’s second-quarter injury. Russell now has two incompletions (14 of 16) on the season with three touchdown passes.

Ballard has 16 touchdown passes with only 13 incompletions.

Football games of the week

Bearden at Dobyns-Bennett

Farragut at Science Hill

Chuckey-Doak at Unicoi County

Sullivan North at Hampton

Bulldogs vs. Indians — It may not be a true 50-50 game, but neither team has to look hard to find evidence it can win.

Admirals vs. Hilltoppers — The matchup looks bad on paper for Science Hill, which must find a way to get some stops on defense in order to have a puncher’s chance at the upset.

Black Knights vs. Blue Devils — Coming off a surprising loss to South Greene, Chuckey-Doak could be a dangerous opponent for Unicoi.

Golden Raiders vs. Bulldogs — It’s desperation time for North because a loss would likely cost it a shot at a home playoff game. Meanwhile, Hampton has a chance to take a big step toward the Region 1-2A title.

Pick of the Week

Dobyns-Bennett 24, Bearden 21

Like they did against Science Hill, the Indians seem to match up favorably with the Bulldogs. This should be a down-to-the-wire battle, and it’s D-B’s time to make some key plays.

Picks record: 3-2.

Player of the Week

Corey Russell, Elizabethton

Turning in a master-of-all-trades performance, Russell had arguably the best game of his tremendous high school career.

He completed 8 of 10 passes for 172 yards, rushed 20 times for 83 yards and caught eight passes for 112 yards while also scoring five touchdowns in a 35-21 win over Tennessee High.

If that wasn’t enough, and it was, Russell also had 13 yards in kick returns and added two tackles on defense.

The Hogs Award

Daniel Boone Trailblazers

The Trail Hogs were feasting on Field Turf, churning up the rubber pellets for a total of 511 yards rushing on 49 attempts in a 35-28 surprise win over Science Hill.

Defensive unit of the Week

David Crockett Pioneers

Taking no prisoners, Crockett rolled to a 44-0 win over Hampton.

Along with allowing the Bulldogs to total only 39 yards of offense, the Pioneers produced a pair of scores. Tyler Estep had a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the special teams got involved with Donta Hackler’s 70-yard punt return for a score.


Dobyns-Bennett (29-3) finished third after taking two losses in the Tournament of Champions event in Spartanburg, S.C., over the weekend. The Lady Indians are 9-0 in Big 6 Conference play and can finish with a perfect mark by beating Tennessee High on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at home. District 1-AAA play begins next Monday, and the tournament will be held at Science Hill. ...

Sullivan South can wrap up a perfect regular-season league run on Thursday in a road match Elizabethton at 7 p.m. It’s not an easy task for South (11-0 in league play) because the Lady Cyclones are 8-2 inside the conference and in second place. The district tournament begins next Monday at Sullivan East.

Girls soccer

Starting with a 1-0 win over Farragut on Sept. 13, Science Hill (12-2) has ripped off four shutouts in a row. The Lady Hilltoppers play at Dobyns-Bennett at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and a win would give them the District 1-AAA title. ...

Elizabethton came up on the short end of a 2-1 decision against Greeneville last week, but the close call should give the Lady Cyclones reason to believe they have a chance to make some noise in the postseason.

Football rankings

Daniel Boone used a convincing win over Science Hill to claim the No. 3 spot in this week’s High School Top 10 (only teams in the Johnson City Press/Times News coverage area are ranked).

Team (W-L) ― Last Week

1. Elizabethton (6-0) ― 1

2. David Crockett (6-0) ― 2

3. Daniel Boone (4-1) ― 4

4. Dobyns-Bennett (2-3) ― 3

5. Tennessee High (4-2) ― 5

6. Science Hill (2-4) ― 6

7. Sullivan North (5-1) ― 7

8. Sullivan South (4-1) ― 8

9. Johnson County (4-1) ― 9

10. Unicoi County (5-1) ― 10

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