It won’t be worth a single point after kickoff and it’s only two games into the season, but David Crockett holds a position it probably hasn’t enjoyed in the history of the school: The Pioneers lead the Big Seven Conference in total offense and total defense.
One problem is those numbers — 1,070 yards gained and 371 allowed — will surely be tested big time as the Pioneers travel to take on Science Hill tonight in the league opener for both teams. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 at Tipton Stadium.
Crockett is 2-0 on the season while the Hilltoppers are 1-0, and Pioneers’ head coach Jeremy Bosken said he isn’t looking at the yards his team has gained in wins over Unicoi County and Sullivan East.
“Unicoi County has no effect on the game this week,” said Bosken. “Our goal is to win one game a week, and we haven’t won any games this week.”
In other Big Seven contests, Daniel Boone plays host to Sullivan Central, and Volunteer is at Dobyns-Bennett.
As for Science Hill, it is coming off a 40-35 win over Elizabethton. The Hilltoppers have crushed the Pioneers in each of their previous three meetings — 63-8, 55-7 and 49-13.
However, this is Bosken’s first year. And Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter said Bosken has done nice work getting things rolling at Crockett.
“He’s got the whole community going, and that’s a job in itself,” said Carter. “They play really hard, and it seems like they’ve got a good scheme and know what they want to do. I like Jeremy, too. He coached here.
“But our focus has to be on us. We’ve got a whole lot of growing to do.”
The Pioneers will have to focus on Science Hill, especially quarterback Malik McGue, who shredded Elizabethton for 352 yards of offense last week (231 passing and 121 rushing).
“You definitely have to be aware of a special talent, and McGue is a special talent,” said Bosken. “We try to make the kids aware of the playmakers, and they have others. (Running back) Chance Pierce doesn’t get enough credit, and they have (receivers) Malik Stephens and Mikey White.”
In last year’s meeting, the Hilltoppers put a 50-spot on the scoreboard in the blink of an eye before calling off the dogs. To prevent Science Hill from getting anywhere near that happy this time, Bosken said his team’s offense will be the key.
“We live first down to first down,” he said. “We’re not worried about big plays or total yards. We just want to keep the chains moving. If we keep the chains moving, that lets our defense rest.”
Crockett’s top offensive threats are freshman running back TK Hill (349 yards rushing, 5 touchdowns) and senior running back Dalton Brown (201 yards rushing). Receiver Luke Hopson has nine catches for 215 yards while quarterback Ryan Burger is averaging a little over 200 yards passing per game.
Science Hill certainly didn’t have a picture-perfect performance last week, but Carter said his team did the main thing.
“I said it earlier, I want us to get wins while we are gaining experience,” said Carter. “Last week we got game experience, and we got a win — even though we made a ton of mistakes. We’ve got a whole lot of stuff to work on.”
Sullivan Central (1-0) at Daniel Boone (1-1) — It has been a while since the Cougars made this series have the feel of a real rivalry.
The Trailblazers have won nine straight games against Central, including a 174-35 combined margin of victory over the last four years for an average score of 44-9.
However, Central is coming off its best season since 2003, which was the last time it defeated Daniel Boone. And the Cougars got off on the right foot this year with a 28-18 win over South Greene — a game where the Cougars rushed for 352 yards and allowed only 129 on the ground.
Volunteer (0-2) at Dobyns-Bennett (1-1) — It’s not the best time for the Falcons to be playing the Indians, who are coming off their first regular season loss after 34 straight wins.
Also, the Falcons haven’t scored a single point since the series was renewed in 2009, losing by scores of 37-0, 42-0, 63-0 and 43-0.