If there is a big comfort in knowing his team is facing an opponent it recently defeated by 30 points, there is an equal concern for Jeremy Jenkins about how it happened.
“We know they are not going to turn the ball over five times in the first half,” said the Daniel Boone head coach. “I don't think that will happen again. Take those turnovers away, and they've got a lot of weapons. We've gone from the hunter to the hunted. We know they will be really motivated.”
Boone (8-2) will play host to Tennessee High (6-4) in the opening round of the TSSAA Class 5A playoffs tonight at Hale Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 o'clock.
In another Class 5A game, Sullivan South makes the TSSAA-forced four-plus-hour drive to play Columbia.
Daniel Boone defeated Tennessee High 37-7 in Week 6. However, the Vikings have been a dangerous offensive team this season.
Quarterback Peyton Henley has thrown for 1,755 yards with 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Boone got nearly one-third of those picks (four) in the first half of the earlier game.
“He gets rid of the ball really quick,” said Jenkins. “If you blitz, you've got to make sure you get there because he finds the open person really quick. He does a good job checking off, so we've got to disguise things.”
Along with Henley, the Vikings boast receiver Adam Mitchell. The junior led all of Northeast Tennessee with 52 catches for 671 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns.
“We've got to play sound football, especially on the defensive side,” said Jenkins. “The big key is how well we tackle in space.”
Offensively, Jenkins said he wants his team to run the football effectively.
“Our ground game has to be huge, especially at playoff time when it's cold,” said Jenkins. “You've got to be able to run the football, and run in tough situations.
“We want every possession to end with a kick, either an extra point, field goal or punt. If that happens, you're not turning the ball over. We want to get positive yards and not turn the ball over and give them a short field.”
The Trailblazers lean heavily on the play of quarterback Jacob Littleton. The senior has passed for 1,236 yards with 12 touchdowns.
Running back Josh Bacon has become the main man in the ground game.
One thing in Boone's favor is home turf, where the Trailblazers haven't lost all season.
“It has to play in some, being undefeated at home,” said Jenkins. “We've played well at home, and the community has gotten behind us.
“Our goal was to have a home playoff game. We've reached that, now we have to play our best football Friday night.”
Sullivan South (5-5) at Columbia (8-2) — After initially being left out of the playoffs because of a TSSAA mistake, the Rebels will make the same journey they took for the 2009 state semifinals.
Instead of re-doing Quadrant 1 after admitting its mistake, the TSSAA pushed the Rebels to Quadrant 2.
South quarterback Charlie Moore has totaled 2,063 yards on the season with 19 touchdown passes.