Jumping back into league play, Cherokee and David Crockett will try to maintain their status at the top of Region 1-5A football.
Both will be at home with the Chiefs playing Volunteer and the Pioneers battling Cocke County. The games are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Friday.
VOLUNTEER (2-2, 0-1) at CHEROKEE (4-0, 1-0)
When it comes to Cherokee taking on Volunteer, people outside Hawkins County may not understand how passionate these teams are to win this game.
“Not being a part of it my whole life, I didn’t really know how intense it was until I got here,” said Cherokee coach Cody Baugh. “I was blown away by the intensity and the atmosphere. These schools do not like each other. It’s definitely a county battle for sure. But it’s fun in a lot of ways.”
The Chiefs have won nine straight in the rivalry.
Volunteer coach Justin Pressley said Cherokee’s good start to the season is a motivation for his team.
“We are 2-2 with losses to teams with a combined record of 7-0, so we know we are a good football team,” Pressley said. “We expect to win games like this. I believe our guys will be locked in and ready to win.”
Baugh said the Chiefs’ defense will be challenged.
“Coach Pressley came in and definitely brought a faster-pace style,” he said. “Peyton Derrick, Eli Dorton, Cameron Johnson, all three can hurt you and make plays happen.”
Pressley said his team knows plenty about Chiefs star quarterback Collin Trent.
“Cherokee does a good job of giving No. 8 the freedom to make plays,” Pressley said. “He is the heart of the team. They love to throw the football and give him opportunities to make the offense move.”
The Chiefs also have a weapon in kicker Peter Egbert, who is a touchback machine on kickoffs.
COCKE COUNTY (1-3, 0-0) at DAVID CROCKETT (3-0, 1-0)
The Pioneers will be in a heavy favorite role for just the second time this season, but coach Hayden Chandley said his team is ready.
“Our kids have been tuned in and we’ve had a good week of preparation,” he said. “We are going to approach this game like any other game and focus on being the best team in the stadium on Friday night.”
While Crockett boasts record-setting quarterback Cade Larkins and the impressive mix of skill-position threats at his disposal — such as running back Ronquille Joyner and receivers Donta Hackler and Mason Britton — the Fighting Cocks counter with quarterback Tyler Venerable. He had three touchdown passes in a loss to South Greene two weeks ago and another last week against Gatlinburg-Pittman, a game in which Cocke County turned the ball over six times in a 59-7 loss.
“They have a balanced attack with the Venerable kid leading the way,” Chandley said. “He hits open receivers, but his best play-making ability is his scrambling. We need to put pressure on him in the pocket, but contain him when he starts to run.”
Chandley said the Fighting Cocks blitz often on defense.
“When they do, hopefully we can get the ball out of our hands quick and take advantage of it,” he said.