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Football fans have choice of high-stakes showdowns

Douglas Fritz • Oct 15, 2019 at 12:30 PM

Which game provides the best ticket purchase Friday?

High school football fans can choose Jonesborough to watch the state’s No. 4-ranked Class 5A team, David Crockett, in a first-place showdown against Tennessee High.

Or they can pick Class 4A, where No. 1-ranked Greeneville travels to meet No. 2 Elizabethton.

Both games hold the promise of memorable events, and each should significantly shape the postseason structure through the quarterfinal round.

The pick here is Greeneville vs. Elizabethton. The matchup pits the top two teams in the state in a rivalry that has produced its share of big-time matchups in the regular season and the playoffs.

But regardless of which game a fan chooses, here’s a little advice: Arrive early. Both places are going to be packed.

IMPRESSIVE RUN

Dating to the start of the 2015 season, Greeneville has lost just two games against Class 4A competition. One of them came against a team that shouldn’t have been in that classification — private school Knoxville Catholic in the 2015 state quarterfinals — and the other was against Knox Central on a last-second Hail Mary in the second round of the 2016 playoffs.

Since the loss to Central, Greeneville is 36-1 with the setback coming in this year’s season opener. It was a 19-17 decision against undefeated Class 5A team Powell.

CADE LARKINS UPDATE

In Friday’s 56-20 win over Cherokee, Larkins threw for 284 yards and moved his career total to 9,872. He remained in the No. 6 spot on the state’s all-time list but moved within 341 yards of the top five.

Larkins also climbed to No. 42 on the all-time national list.

With his five touchdown passes in Friday’s game — the fourth time this season Larkins has hit that total — he moved his career tally to 97 and took over the No. 7 spot on Tennessee’s all-time list.

TSSAA GOLF

Science Hill tees it up Tuesday morning at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester to begin defense of its state championship. The tournament is a two-day 36-hole event, weather permitting. Last year’s event was shortened to one day because of rain.

The Hilltoppers’ lineup consists of seniors Jackson Skeen, Tarun Hoskere, Ross Boehling, Carter Counts and Jacob Oakley along with junior Pujah Shah. Skeen returns as the defending co-champion along with Farragut’s Lance Simpson.

Competing as individuals are Sullivan Central’s Seth Robinette, Volunteer’s Jon Wes Lovelace and Tennessee High’s Jack Tickle.

Tennessee High is participating as a team in the girls’ event. Dobyns-Bennett junior Isabella van der Biest, the defending champion, is competing as an individual. Also in this year’s field is Sullivan South junior Kara Carter.

DISTRICT SOCCER

Postseason action started Monday. The semifinals are set for Tuesday and championships for Thursday.

The District 1-AAA tournament is to be played at Tipton Stadium, home of top-seeded Science Hill.

In 1-AA, top-seeded Greeneville carries a role of strong favorite. And in Class A, University High is the top seed.

HOW WE VOTED

Coverage-area teams receiving votes from the Times News/Johnson City Press in this week’s Associated Press football poll, along with the No. 1 selection. (Coverage area is Sullivan, Washington, Carter, Unicoi, Johnson and Hawkins counties):

Class 6A — Oakland (No. 1), Dobyns-Bennett (No. 3)

Class 5A — Knox Central (No. 1), David Crockett (No. 2)

Class 4A — Greeneville (No. 1), Elizabethton (No. 2)

Class 3A — Alcoa (No. 1), none

Class 2A — Peabody (No. 1), Happy Valley (No. 7), Hampton (No. 10)

Class 1A — South Pittsburg (No. 1), none

THE TOP 10

Science Hill takes advantage of losses by Cherokee and Sullivan South to move back into the top five in this week’s rankings.

Team W-L Prv
1. David Crockett 6-0 1
2. Dobyns-Bennett 7-0 2
3. Elizabethton 7-0 3
4. Tennessee High 6-1 4
5. Science Hill 3-5 7
6. Cherokee 6-2 5
7. Sullivan South 4-3 6
8. Unicoi County 4-3 8
9. Happy Valley 6-1 9
10. Hampton 5-2 10

GAMES OF THE WEEK

Tennessee High at David Crockett

The Pioneers have outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 278-101. The Vikings have outscored their opponents 263-93.

And last year’s game between these teams was 24-21. This has the look of being a dandy battle.

Greeneville at Elizabethton

In 2018, the Greene Devils beat every team they played by three touchdowns or more — except the Cyclones. That meeting was a 35-20 decision that was within eight points in the fourth quarter.

In 2017, only one team (Anderson County, 35-31) played Greeneville a closer game than Elizabethton (24-10).

Are the Cyclones ready to move past the “came close” status?

South Greene at Hampton

The Rebels haven’t had their bye week, so they stand as one of only four teams in the state with a record of 8-0. They have outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 320-110.

This is a major challenge for the Bulldogs, who have been dominant over the past four weeks.

Happy Valley at Sullivan North

First place is still within reach for the Warriors, who have been rock tough in close games this season.

Regardless of the outcome here, the Golden Raiders are probably stuck in the No. 4 spot in Region 1-2A. But this game could give them momentum toward the playoffs.

PICK OF THE WEEK

David Crockett 28, Tennessee High 24

It should be tight from start to finish. There should be plenty of big plays, but look for a key defensive stop to decide the outcome.

Picks record: 6-2.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

5-star — Cade Larkins, QB, David Crockett

In a 56-20 win over Cherokee — a battle for first place in Region 1-5A — the Pioneers’ senior quarterback cut loose for 284 yards passing.

Larkins also connected for five touchdown tosses on throws of 29, 22, 14, 8 and 7 yards.

t was a battle for first place, and the senior produced another big effort. He hit on 19 of 28 passes for 287 yards and five scores as the Pioneers topped Cherokee, 56-20.

4-star — Connor Batchelder, QB, Science Hill

Making a big impact with limited volume, the senior connected on 12 of 15 tosses for 216 yards with four touchdowns in the Hilltoppers’ 42-15 win over Morristown West.

3-star — Jet Harris, LB, Dobyns-Bennett

First place in Region 1-6A was on the line, and the senior responded with three sacks to highlight the team’s standout defensive performance in a 38-13 win over Farragut.

2-star — Bryson Rollins, QB, Elizabethton

In arguably his best performance of the season, the sophomore connected on 10 of 11 passes for 208 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for a pair of scores in the 51-19 win over Union County.

1-star — Brennan Blair, RB, Daniel Boone

The junior racked up 140 yards rushing on just 12 carries with two touchdowns. He also picked off a pass on defense in the 44-14 win over Volunteer.

THE HOGS AWARD

Daniel Boone Trailblazers

After a season of tough opponents, the Boone Hogs flexed their muscles in the favorite role. Boone’s offensive line cleared the way for a tough ground attack and provided pass protection that allowed for three touchdown passes in a 44-14 pounding of Volunteer.

DEFENSIVE UNIT OF THE WEEK

Hampton Bulldogs

With rival Cloudland coming off its best offensive game of the season, Hampton’s defense gave no ground. The Bulldogs picked off three passes and limited the Highlanders’ attack in a 42-6 victory.

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