The No. 4-ranked Indians wrapped up a share of the Region 1-6A football title with a 42-0 win over Morristown West at Burke-Toney Stadium.
The Indians’ fourth shutout of the season secured the 49th conference championship in Tribe history, which includes six TSSAA-recognized state titles, according to the school’s website.
“All the credit goes to the kids and the hard work they put in,” D-B coach Joey Christian said. “The fact they’ve bought in to us as coaches and what we want to do with the program. We’ve got great coaches and great kids.”
The Indians (8-0, 5-0), who have won 10 straight games dating to last season, can win the championship outright next week against rival Science Hill.
The first order of business was taking care of the homestanding Trojans (1-7, 0-4).
Whitson threw a pair of first-quarter touchdowns, a 10-yarder to Phillip Armitage and a 9-yarder to Nacir Sensabaugh, to stake the Indians to a 14-0 lead.
The Trojans kept the Tribe off the scoreboard for most of the second quarter and took time off the clock with a drive kept alive by two pass interference penalties. West’s defense then stepped up to force two three-and-outs.
D-B wouldn’t be denied, however. Whitson connected with Dalton Harkleroad for a 30-yard touchdown with 28 seconds left in the half and the Indians were on their way to the region title.
“This is really special to win a share of the championship. We’ve worked hard for this all season,” said Whitson, who finished 9-of-15 passing for 117 yards.
Whitson has 16 touchdown passes and one interception this season.
“He lets the play happen,” Christian said. “He’s heady and understands defenses. We don’t call plays for any one particular receiver. Zane has to read it out and he’s done a tremendous job of that all year.”
Whitson added a fourth touchdown using his legs, running 11 yards to cap an 88-yard drive on his team’s first possession of the second half. West followed with a bad snap on its punt attempt and D-B got the ball back at the Trojans’ 3-yard line.
The Tribe immediately took advantage. D-B lined up in the I-formation and Tyler Tesnear powered in on the next play for a 35-0 lead.
A fumble on the Trojans’ next possession added to their misery: The Indians scored again on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Whitson to Rayshawn Simmons.
“It’s a team game and you have to share the ball,” Whitson said. “Our receivers made plays tonight. They were focused, locked in and did a great job.”
Tesnear finished with eight carries for 86 yards and Armitage had 10 carries for 68 yards.
“We’ve been playing as a team and it feels like everything is coming together,” junior linebacker Nate Whitley said. “Jet (Harris) is making plays for us and we’ve all been playing hard. After last season (when the Indians finished 4-6), we’re out to prove something.”
They constantly harassed West’s quarterbacks; the Trojans were down to third-stringer Roddney Long in the fourth quarter before second-stringer Elijah Richardson re-entered the game.
“I’ve said all year I wouldn’t want my son playing quarterback against our defense,” Christian said. “Coach (B.I.) Salyers and our guys do a good job. Our linemen do such a good job pushing up in the middle and the quarterbacks can’t step up. By that time, Jackson (Martin) and Jet are usually there.”