Science Hill coach Stacy Carter
Science Hill won't really know how it stands in the statewide mix until it faces a tough mid-state team.
That happens tonight as the undefeated Hilltoppers travel to play Murfreesboro Siegel. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. (EDT).
“I think it's important,” said Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter, whose team is 3-0 on the season. “We need to beat a real good opponent. It just so happens we face two (mid-state) teams in a row.”
Siegel is just 2-2 on the season, but don't be fooled by the Stars' record. One loss came to No. 2-ranked Murfreesboro Oakland and the other came against No. 4-ranked Murfreesboro Blackman.
And Siegel is still ranked, just two spots behind the No. 6 Hilltoppers. The Stars reached the Class 6A semifinals last season, losing a 47-43 shootout to Maryville.
So it sure looks like a significant test for Science Hill.
“They are a spread option team, and they are really solid at running back and the skill positions,” said Carter. “They have a lot of those same guys in secondary, and that's the biggest strength of the team.”
The secondary speed could meet head to head with Science Hill's ability to break off big plays for touchdowns.
“Their second level is filled with athletes, just like us,” said Carter. “I don't think you'll see 60- and 70-yard runs. I think you will see people catching up with us instead of getting a TD. We have to be patient, sustain drives, and move the football.”
Siegel graduated quite a few players from last year's team, but it's a reload situation, said Carter.
“Even though they lost 30 seniors, they play at a real high level,” he said. “Their conference is like the SEC in college football. They play nothing but the top teams in the state.”
Leading the way for the Stars is quarterback Dakota Crane, who has already amassed 975 yards of offense this season. He has thrown for 748 yards with seven touchdowns. His favorite target is Weston Hayes with 16 catches for 243 yards and three scores.
Running back Denzel Harding has 55 carries for 337 yards and three scores to go along with 10 catches for 111 yards and another touchdown. Another running back, Andre Knox has good numbers, too, with 327 total yards and three touchdowns.
Defense has been an issue for the Stars, who are allowing 419 yards per game.
One factor working against the Hilltoppers is the challenge of a nearly 4½-hour bus ride.
“It's not easy,” said Carter. “Most of the time people do something like this, they go the day before. But we're getting on a charter bus and leaving at 10 a.m. (today).
“We will take our time, stop halfway, and get out and stretch out our legs. But you have to factor in the travel when you look at this game.”