It’s one of the big ones for Daniel Boone.
Sullivan South makes the short journey to Gray tonight to take on the Trailblazers in an important Big Eight Conference football game at Nathan Hale Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
“David Crockett, Science Hill and Sullivan South, those are our three rival games,” said Boone head coach Jeremy Jenkins. “We know our kids will have a little extra stuff for those games. You want every game to be your best, but you always have a little extra adrenalin for those games.”
In other Big Eight contests, David Crockett hits the road to play Sullivan Central, and Dobyns-Bennett plays host to Volunteer.
Three Rivers Conference and Mountain East Conference teams are playing outside of the league this week.
In the Blue Ridge Conference, the key games are West Greene at Chuckey-Doak, and Greeneville at Grainger.
Daniel Boone enters its game with a 3-2 record in the league and 6-2 overall. South is 2-3, 4-4.
Boone has locked up a playoff berth, but has its eyes on a home game. Beating South would be a giant step in that direction.
“Our goal is to host a playoff game, and host as long as we can,” said Jenkins. “We know as long as we win, we’ve got a chance of hosting for a couple of rounds at least.
“We’ve not been beaten here, and we’re trying to keep that going. Nathan Hale Stadium is a hard place to win, and that’s what we want this place to be.”
The playoff picture looks a bit different to the Rebels. They need a win this week or next to have a shot, but five wins is not a guarantee of a berth.
The Rebels will likely hit Boone with large doses of quarterback Charlie Moore. He has totaled 1,847 yards this season, and accounted for 22 touchdowns with 18 of them coming through the air.
“It all starts with the quarterback,” said Jenkins. “And their receiving corps is really good with (Evan) Headrick, (Mitchell) Crowe, and others. They’ve just got a lot of weapons.
“They’ve really moved the ball up and down the field. Nobody has really stopped them for the most part. We’ve got to do a good job of keeping Moore hemmed up.”
When Boone has the ball, it has been relying on the steady hands of Jacob Littleton. The senior quarterback has thrown for 1,032 yards with 10 touchdowns.
“If you play solid defense, do well in the kicking game, and the quarterback makes good decisions, you will win your fair share of games,” said Jenkins.
David Crockett (0-5, 2-6) at Sullivan Central (0-5, 3-5) — Can the Pioneers break through and grab a Big Eight Conference win?
The Pioneers totaled 82 points in two wins, but just 16 in six losses. This matchup is one where Crockett should be able to move the football.
Running backs Jordan Turner, Dalton Brown and Austin Durbin have combined to rush for 791 yards this season for the Pioneers.
Volunteer (2-3, 3-5) at Dobyns-Bennett (5-0, 8-0) — It’s hard to imagine the Falcons feeling good about their chances of slowing down a team that has scored 70 or more points for three straight weeks.
D-B boasts the league’s top two scorers in Devaun Swafford and Malik Foreman. Swafford has 20 touchdowns while Foreman has 19. Since Foreman took over at quarterback four games ago, the Indians are averaging 69 points per contest.
Foreman is averaging an absurd 25.3 yards per carry on the season with 607 on just 24 attempts. Swafford averages 11.6 yards per carry with 778 on 67 attempts.
Unaka (1-7) at Unicoi County (4-4) — The Blue Devils can position themselves nicely for a Class 3A playoff berth with a non-conference win against the Rangers.
Unaka has struggled to score this season, getting shutout five times and totaling only 43 points.
Blue Devils’ running back Hunter Abbott has totaled 861 yards on the season and has scored seven touchdowns.
Sullivan East (0-8) at Cloudland (6-2) — The Patriots hammered the Highlanders last season, but Cloudland has spent much of this year reversing the roles from last year’s 1-9 effort.
Quarterback Jeffrey Rhinehart and running back Taylor Whitehead have been a powerful one-two punch all season for Cloudland. Whitehead has rushed for over 1,500 yards, while Rhinehart has over 1,000.
Happy Valley (2-6) at Hampton (7-1) — Winning two straight in this Carter County rivalry, and three of the last four, it would make some sense to ignore the records.
However, the Bulldogs have been explosive on offense, and Happy Valley hasn’t been able to consistently get points on the board.
West Greene (2-3, 4-5) at Chuckey-Doak (2-2, 5-3) — It’s a big game for the Buffaloes, who need a win to have a shot at the Class 3A playoffs.
It’s important for the Black Knights, too, because of playoff positioning and because they face a Greene County rival.
Greeneville (4-0, 5-3) at Grainger (3-1, 4-4) — The Greene Devils have scored at least 63 points in each of their three meetings with the Grizzlies.
However, Greeneville’s offense hasn’t been quite as explosive this year, so Grainger may be able to put in a more competitive showing this time around.