Elizabethton

Elizabethton, which plays Tullahoma on Saturday in the Class 4A final, has a chance to become Northeast Tennessee’s first team to win three consecutive state titles.

It’s a short list.

But Elizabethton can carve its name into Tennessee history if it earns a third straight state football championship Saturday in Chattanooga.

The Cyclones are trying to become just the sixth public school in TSSAA playoff history to earn three consecutive titles. And they would become the first Northeast Tennessee team to pull off the feat.

Alcoa has done it three times in three classifications. The Tornadoes won five in a row in Class 2A (2004-08) before adding two to that streak in Class 3A. Their current streak of six has been in 3A. And the Tornadoes also won three straight in Class A (1977-79).

Maryville pulled off the feat in Class 4A, winning four straight from 2004-07. The Rebels also won three straight in Class 4A from 2000-02.

Also reaching the pinnacle three straight years were Cleveland in Class 4A (1993-95), Fulton in Class 4A (2012-14) and Peabody in Class 2A (2018-20).

Elizabethton knocked off Springfield to win the Class 4A title in 2019, defeated Haywood in 2020, and will play Tullahoma at Finley Stadium with kickoff set for 11 a.m.

In Northeast Tennessee playoff history, Tennessee High (1971-72) and Greeneville (2010-11 and 2017-18) also won back-to-back state titles.

Another place in history within the Cyclones’ reach is a fourth title overall. Elizabethton, which also won the 1938 crown, can become the 14th public school to reach that number. The Cyclones would also tie Greeneville for the Northeast Tennessee lead in that category.

Also, the Cyclones’ senior class can become the winningest in Northeast Tennessee history. The group has 52 wins, tying the 2018 Greeneville senior class for the top spot.

WHAT DOES HAMPTON FACE?

In basketball and baseball, one player sometimes can more or less decide the outcome of a game. It’s different in football.

However, in Saturday’s Class 2A title game, Hampton faces a quarterback who is a game-changer. Westview’s Ty Simpson has been recruited by every major college program in the country, from Southern Cal to Michigan to Florida, Texas and Tennessee. The 6-foot-2, 185- pounder has committed to Alabama.

Simpson’s HUDL highlights look like a high school Patrick Mahomes. He escapes the rush and throws on the run arguably better than any quarterback who has ever played in this area or against any team in this area.

Hampton coach Michael Lunsford called the senior — who has a 247Sports Composite rating of .9852 and is the nation’s No. 4 QB prospect — “the real deal.”

ROLLINS UPDATE

Bryson Rollins accounted for all three of Elizabethton’s touchdowns — two running and one passing — in Friday’s 23-6 semifinal win over Upperman.

That moved the quarterback’s career total to 149, which is second on the state’s all-time list. He also moved his career rushing and passing yardage total to 9,951 — moving him into the No. 10 spot on the state’s all-time list.

BIRCHFIELD RECORDS

Seth Birchfield closed out a spectacular season in Friday’s tough 30-22 loss to South Pittsburg.

The senior running back rushed for 177 yards to end the year with 2,794, the best total in Northeast Tennessee history and good for seventh on the state’s all-time list. Birchfield also had a touchdown run to move his total to 42 — the best in Northeast Tennessee single-season history — and finished in the No. 6 spot on the state’s all-time list.

PLAYOFF FAVORITES

Here’s a look at the teams favored in Friday and Saturday’s state championship games. These numbers are not predictions but a representation of the general perception of who will win the game and by how much.

Class 6A

Oakland by 14 over Summit

This line may seem a bit large considering both teams are undefeated, they have combined for 54 straight wins (29 for Oakland), and both are defending state champions — as Summit was in Class 5A last season. But the Patriots appear to be on their own level.

Class 5A

Powell by 14 over Page

Crushing Knox West on Friday made Powell a prohibitive favorite to carry on and win the title.

Class 4A

Elizabethton by 3 over Tullahoma

In every state poll after the Cyclones lost to Greeneville in Week 3, Tullahoma was ranked above Elizabethton. But the Cyclones beat Greeneville in the quarterfinals and are the two-time defending state champions so are a slight favorite.

Class 3A

Alcoa by 45 over East Nashville

There doesn’t seem to be any hard evidence that would make this line any closer. The Eagles have lost four games this season, two in blowout fashion, and Alcoa’s average margin of victory against Class 3A opponents is 52 points.

Class 2A

Westview by 14 over Hampton

This is a serious challenge for the Bulldogs against a team ranked No. 2 throughout the regular season.

Class 1A

McKenzie by 6 over South Pittsburg

McKenzie beat the beast — three-time defending champion Peabody — so it earned a favorite role over a Pirates team that had to come from behind late to beat Cloudland.

ALL-STAR GAME

The TACA East-West All-Star Classic will be played Dec. 10 at Austin Peay in Clarksville. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.

Local players involved in the game are Dobyns-Bennett linebacker Levi Evans, David Crockett cornerback Isaiah Lang, Elizabethton lineman Trenton Taylor, Tennessee High tackle Justice Musser and Greene-ville receiver Jaden Stevenson.

Dobyns-Bennett coach Joey Christian will serve as an assistant.

COLLEGE SIGNINGS

University High cross country standout Isabelle Johnson will make her college choice official Tuesday.

She will sign with Tusculum at 3:15 p.m. in the high school library.

Recommended Videos

Contact Douglas Fritz via email at dfritz@johnsoncitypress.com.