It’s “Showdown in K-Town” week, so Science Hill coach Stacy Carter and his staff have been burning the midnight oil.
The much-anticipated battle of the unbeatens will play out Friday night as the Hilltoppers travel to take on Dobyns-Bennett.
The Indians are ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 6A, and Science Hill is No. 5.
“Anytime the stakes are higher, you put more hours in. That’s just how it is,” said Carter. “Every week it has grown. It was D-B/Science Hill anyhow. We’re both 9-0, and what we’re playing for is a possible No. 1 seed.”
Not to mention things like bragging rights and The Streak — which has grown to 18 games — but the loser may have to play a 9-1 team right off the bat in the playoffs. Assuming Maryville and the D-B/Science Hill winner are No. 1 and No. 2, that puts the D-B/Science Hill loser at No. 3 — which means a first-round playoff game against a No. 6 seed, a team like Oak Ridge (8-1) or McMinn County (8-1).
“This game is huge for a lot of reasons,” said Carter. “Playing a 9-1 team in the first round of the playoffs, that’s tough.”
Perhaps the most noticeable thing about this contest is the sheer number of points the teams have scored. They have combined for 956, with D-B being the highest-scoring team in the state at 510. Science Hill is tied for third at 446.
“I think our program is getting a lot better, and D-B has had a great program for a long time,” said Carter. “I feel like we are getting better, and D-B is getting better. We will see down the road after all of this shakes out. But definitely both teams are playing well.”
Science Hill is averaging 49.6 points per game. Carter’s best teams at South averaged 43.3 (2008) and 40.5 (2007).
This is D-B’s highest-scoring team in the modern era. The Indians are averaging 56.7 points per game, better than the pace from last year (44.7) and 2000 (43.9).
Carter said there are two different approaches to scoring points for the Hilltoppers and Indians.
“We spread the ball around,” said Carter. “It’s hard to get a bead on one person. (Quarterback) Reed (Hayes) has distributed the ball very well.
“D-B does it with a couple of guys (Malik Foreman and Devaun Swafford), who have been unbelievable.”
Carter said he wants the early part of this week to be routine for his team. He said he doesn’t want the players to get too high too early.
“I think it matters,” said Carter. “We want the kids to enjoy what is going on with the whole deal. But with the coaches and everything, we don’t want to let the nerves or the pressure get to us. We want to try to make it a normal week.
“There are so many external factors. People are going to make it huge. We’ve got to be sure we stay on an even keel, and not get too jacked up. But the kids can feel the intensity. They know what is going on.”
The two teams only have league teams for their common opponents. In those games, D-B has an average margin of victory of 62-10 while the Hilltoppers are at 55-16.
Science Hill’s 76-point explosion against Tennessee High on Friday allowed it to leap from outside of the top 10 all the way to No. 3 on the state’s scoring list.
Leading the way is Dobyns-Bennett, which has a 52-point edge over Christian Academy of Knoxville and record-setting quarterback Charlie High.
Science Hill and Lexington, a Class 4A team located near Jackson, are tied for the third spot. The Hilltoppers’ total of 446 is a school record, already eclipsing the 402 points scored last year in 11 games.
The following list includes Greeneville at No. 11 because the No. 10 team has already completed its regular season:
Team G Pts
Dobyns-Bennett 9 510
CAK 9 448
Science Hill 9 446
Lexington 9 446
Dekalb County 9 428
Giles County 9 402
Cheatham County 9 398
Friendship Christian 9 394
Murf. Siegel 9 381
Marion County 10 376
Greeneville 9 375
Playoff chatter: One thing that seems certain about playoff matters is nothing is certain.
Unicoi County is on the edge in Class 3A, but the Blue Devils haven’t clinched a berth. If they lose to Sullivan North, they will likely fall behind West Greene in the tiebreakers because the Buffaloes would get a sixth game played, and a second win, over a .500 team if heavily favored North Greene beats Hancock County.
Unicoi would also fall behind Chuckey-Doak if it beats South Greene, and behind Johnson County if it beats Happy Valley.
That could leave Unicoi in trouble if Pigeon Forge beats Gatlinburg-Pittman, East Hickman beats Marshall County and Goodpasture beats Greenbrier. However, the tiebreakers between Unicoi and Pigeon Forge look very close.
If Grundy County loses to Notre Dame, the Blue Devils would get a boost — as long as Martin Westview doesn’t upset South Gibson.
Yes, that’s a lot of “ifs,” but that’s the TSSAA playoff picture.
Soccer update: Science Hill will play host to Sevier County in today’s Region 1-AAA semifinals at Tipton Stadium. Gametime is 7 p.m.
The Lady Hilltoppers are 13-3-3 on the season.
The other semifinal has Dobyns-Bennett (9-9-3) traveling to take on Morristown West (14-1-1).
Today’s winners earn berths in Saturday’s sectional round, and will play Thursday for the region championship and home-field advantage for the sectional. West will play host for Thursday’s game if the Lady Trojans win. If D-B wins, it will travel to Science Hill or Sevier County.
In Class A-AA today, top-seeded Elizabethton (10-6-2) plays host to Chuckey-Doak while Cosby travels to take on second-seeded Greeneville (8-7-2).
Today’s winners will play Thursday at the home field of the higher seed.
Volleyball update: South Greene takes aim at a Class AA state title beginning Wednesday in Murfreesboro. The Lady Rebels (30-6) open against Chester County, and are in the same bracket with mid-state powerhouse Goodpasture Christian (41-3). Franklin Page is the two-time defending champion.
In Class AAA, Sullivan South (46-7) will face Germantown Houston (42-10) also on Wednesday. Two-time defending champion Ravenwood is in the Lady Rebels’ bracket.
Both tournaments continue through Friday’s championships.
Football games of the week: Science Hill at Dobyns-Bennett, Daniel Boone at David Crockett, Happy Valley at Johnson County, Unicoi County at Sullivan North, Cloudland at Hampton.
Hilltoppers vs. Indians — Of all the matchups between these longtime rivals, this is the biggest regular-season game they’ve ever played. The only game with more at stake was their second-round playoff encounter back in 1998, which the Indians won by a score of 44-8.
Trailblazers vs. Pioneers — When it comes to a pure pride game, this is one of the best. These teams could both have records of 0-9 coming into the game, and it would still matter to the players, coaches and fans.
Warriors vs. Longhorns — Johnson County has worked itself behind the eight ball just a bit, and likely needs a win here to have a shot at reaching the postseason.
Blue Devils vs. Raiders — Unicoi will be a major underdog, but an upset win would give the Blue Devils a seeded playoff berth.
Highlanders vs. Bulldogs — Cloudland is back on the map in the Mountain East Conference, but this is the Highlanders’ biggest hurdle. It’s a battle of explosive offenses with Hampton averaging 37 points per game and Cloudland at 33 a contest.
Pick of the Week — Dobyns-Bennett 42, Science Hill 41.
With all of the hype and the anticipation, sometimes a game like this can be a letdown. However, there will be so many offensive threats on the field, it’s hard to imagine anything less than a shootout.
It could live up to its billing and come down to overtime. The Indians score first in the first overtime, and Science Hill follows suit. However, the Hilltoppers let the dice roll for a game-winning 2-point conversion and a Reed Hayes pass is tipped away just before it reaches the hands of Malik McGue.
Picks record: 10-0.
Player of the week — Reed Hayes of Science Hill.
The Hilltoppers’ senior quarterback unleashed an air assault on Tennessee High, and the Vikings probably won’t forget it.
In a 76-48 win, Hayes gunned home five touchdown passes and rushed for two others. He finished with 352 yards passing, completing 21 of 30 attempts.
Hayes’ scoring strikes were from 24, 78, 60, 15 and 38 yards. He also had two 1-yard touchdown runs, and carried eight times for 36 yards.
The Hogs Award — Greeneville Greene Devils.
With the Greene Hogs clearing the way, Greeneville racked up 338 yards rushing on 33 attempts for an average of 10.2 per carry.
The pass protection was sound, allowing for 12 completions in 19 attempts for 63 percent.
Defensive unit of the week — Dobyns-Bennett Indians.
D-B’s defense pitched its third shutout in the last four weeks in a 43-0 victory over Volunteer.
The Indians limited the Falcons to 92 yards of total offense, including only 11 through the air by forcing six incompletions in eight attempts. D-B picked off a pass, recovered a fumble and forced four punts.
This Week in Prep History — October 18, 2002.
Greeneville quarterback Cody Baugh had an unforgettable night for two reasons. First, he completed 26 of 39 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns. Second, he threw a pick-six for what turned out to be the deciding score in a 45-42 loss to Morristown West.
Everything remains the same in this week’s Prep Top 10.
Team W-L Prv
1. Dobyns-Bennett 9-0 1
2. Science Hill 9-0 2
3. Daniel Boone 7-2 3
4. Elizabethton 7-2 4
5. Sullivan North 8-1 5
6. Greeneville 6-3 7
7. Hampton 8-1 8
8. Tennessee High 5-4 6
9. Sullivan South 4-5 10
10. Johnson County 4-5 9