Dobyns-Bennett’s 19-year choke hold on Science Hill was loosened in 2012, and in 2013 the Hilltoppers refused to tap out.
The power grip was broken in a very satisfying way for the Hilltoppers, who whipped the Indians in the last half of the fourth quarter — a place where previous Science Hill efforts had faded away.
Trailing 24-14, the Hilltoppers gouged the Indians for 21 straight points Friday night, earning their first win in the series since 1994. They pulled out the victory on D-B’s turf, where last season saw a fourth-quarter resurgence go the Indians’ way in a 37-34 decision.
That heartbreaking loss likely played a role in this year’s victory. The Hilltoppers perhaps were less inclined to think they could beat D-B, and more inclined to know they could.
Another sigh of relief came from Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter, who got rid of a personal 0-7 monkey-on-the-back against the Indians.
Carter’s overall record is 30-14 on The Hill, and he has proven beyond a shadow of doubt he was the right man for this program. The only thing left to prove is taking the Hilltoppers to the same heights Sullivan South reached under Carter’s direction.
It is certainly a relief in one sense for Science Hill to beat the Indians, but it adds a little pressure on the other hand. Expectations will move from beating D-B to having some serious playoff success.
With Carter on the sideline and the talented athletes in house, that should come sooner than later.
In fact, it’s certainly within reach this year. Beating Maryville seems like a longshot, but getting to the quarterfinals and earning a chance to play the Rebels is not out of the conversation at all.
Here’s a look at how far area teams might be able to go, looking at Quadrant 1 in each classification:
Science Hill — Quarterfinals.
D-B — Second round.
The Hilltoppers shouldn’t be flat after the win over D-B because it wasn’t an upset. That means momentum should carry over to the Knox Farragut game.
A second-round road win over Sevier County would take quite an effort, but it’s more than just a 50-50 shot.
D-B has a chance against Morristown East, but likely doesn’t have the playmakers to handle Maryville.
Quadrant final prediction: Maryville 44, Science Hill 21.
David Crockett — First round.
Tennessee High — Second round.
It’s not far-fetched to think Tennessee High could make another surprising run to the quarterfinals. The Vikings have a nice team, and take away the Hail-Mary loss to D-B and their other setbacks came against teams with a combined record of 26-4.
As for the Pioneers, just getting here was the big deal. Traveling to the other side of Knoxville and playing a team whose only loss was a semi-competitive decision against Maryville is another world.
Quadrant final prediction: Knox West 33, Anderson County 24.
Greeneville — Quarterfinals.
Elizabethton — Second round.
Unicoi County — First round.
Sullivan South — Second round.
This is a loaded bracket, which means some fans may be offended if their team isn’t picked to win it. But there are four teams who believe they have a real shot at breaking out of Quad 1, and the champion will have an outstanding chance at a state title.
Elizabethton has an impressive football team, and the Cyclones will battle anybody. Ditto for Sullivan South. Both are well-coached, high-effort, smart, tough teams.
Unfortunately, the task at hand may require more heavy lifting than either team can handle.
Just about anybody with eyeballs on it say Knox Fulton is the best in Class 4A — and may be even as good as Maryville. However, it’s tough to pick against Greeneville’s Caine Train as long as it is still riding the rails.
It’s not a matter of disrespect for Fulton, Elizabethton or Sullivan South. It is simply respect for a football program that brought Northeast Tennessee something it hadn’t ever experienced before: a real statewide playoff football championship, twice over.
At Greeneville the pick would be the Greene Devils, but with Fulton at home in a potential matchup. ...
Quadrant final prediction: Knox Fulton 32, Greeneville 29.
Sullivan North — Second round.
Johnson County — First round.
Chuckey-Doak — Second round.
If North was on the road, it might not be able to get past Pigeon Forge. It should be a tight battle anyway.
Johnson County should be able to give the Black Knights a challenge, but Doak has won four in a row and is playing very well.
Quadrant final prediction: Alcoa 43, Christian Academy of Knoxville 17.
Hampton — Second round.
In the same scenario last year, Hampton beat Cloudland, earned a first-round bye, and got Silverdale Baptist in the second round. Silverdale won 41-8.
The Seahawks don’t have their quarterback from last year, but did return eight starters.
Quadrant final prediction: Knoxville Grace Christian 33, Silverdale 15.
Cloudland — Quarterfinals.
Last year the Highlanders beat Midway before getting pounded by Coalfield in the second round. This year, bye in hand, Cloudland would likely face Midway before seeing injury-riddled Coalfield in the quarterfinals.
In other words, the door is open for Cloudland to have a real shot at reaching the state semifinals.
Quadrant final prediction: Cloudland 29, Coalfield 26.
Follow Douglas Fritz on Twitter @FritzBlitzzz.
Elizabethton’s Caleb Bailey is 0-2 as a starting quarterback against Science Hill. Against everybody else, the senior is 20-1, with the other loss coming against Christian Academy of Knoxville in last year’s Class 3A state semifinals.
Bailey’s record as a starter is noteworthy because of the tough games he has led his team to victory: Sullivan North twice last year, Sullivan South last year, and Tennessee High this year.
The most impressive win in Bailey’s career probably came Friday night in a 28-27 Three Rivers Conference championship-clinching win over South, and there are several reasons:
— At 5-11 and 155 pounds, Bailey gives up weight to almost any defender he encounters. He still carried the ball 19 times, and even though he gained only 28 yards, ball possession was a key to the victory.
— Arm strength is not a strength for Bailey, but he made a couple of impressive throws and finished 5 of 7 for 95 yards.
— Every one of his completions came in crucial down-and-distance situations: 3rd and 11 (15 yards), 2nd and 15 (9 yards), 3rd and 8 (31 yards), 2nd and 9 (28 yards), and 3rd and 8 (12 yards, game-winning touchdown).
— He stuck his nose into a pile of charging defenders four times to earn two 1-yard touchdown runs
— Also, Bailey took more snaps than usual because of an early game injury to backup quarterback Caleb Armstrong.
Add it all up, and the Cyclones have quite a winner behind center.
For Friday’s playoff game at Tipton Stadium, Science Hill season-ticket holders will have the opportunity to purchase their currently assigned seats Wednesday and Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Friday at 8 a.m., all seating will go on sale to the public. Center bucket seats are $12 while others are $8. Cash only.
Ticket booths will open at 5:30 p.m. on Friday night, with kickoff set for 7 o’clock.
Points of interest: It seems like a good bet Greeneville or Knox Fulton will win the Class 4A state championship. If that happens, it’s also likely a new state record for points scored will be established.
Greeneville holds the record with 748, set by the first of back-to-back state-title teams.
Fulton has already scored 612 points this season while Greeneville has racked up 549. With a potential five games remaining, Fulton would only need to average 27.4 points per game to set the mark. The Falcons are averaging 61.2 per game.
Greeneville would need to average 40 per game, which is below their current pace of 54.9 per contest.
Making things even more interesting is these teams are currently two of the top scoring defenses in the state. Greeneville allows just 5.4 per game while Fulton surrenders 5.7 a contest. Memphis Trezevant has given up just 50 points in 10 games, but one of them was a forfeit. The Bears, who Greeneville beat in 2010 state finals, are averaging 5.6 per contest.
Soccer update: Germantown Houston finished off a near perfect season, beating Ravenwood 3-1 to win the Class AAA title.
Houston finished 23-0-1, with its lone non-victory coming from a 1-1 tie against private school Collierville St. George’s. ...
In Class A-AA, Knox Catholic won its first-ever girls soccer title, beating Christian Academy of Knoxville 3-1 in the finals. It was the fourth win this season for the Lady Irish (20-3-4) over the four-time state champions.
Playoff odds: Here’s a look at who is favored, and by how much, for this week’s TSSAA playoff games:
Science Hill by 12 over Knox Farragut, Morristown East by 3 over Dobyns-Bennett, Maryville by 39 over Bradley Central, Sevier County by 20 over Cookeville.
The Hilltoppers are in the postseason for the fourth straight season, the most consecutive playoff years in school history. So they should be comfortable and able to handle the role of favorite.
D-B could give East some problems because the Indians are 15-3-1 all-time against the Hurricanes.
Anderson County by 16 over Cherokee, Tennessee High by 11 over South-Doyle, Knox West by 33 over David Crockett, Campbell County 14 over Corryton Gibbs.
It’s a tough sell for the Pioneers, who face a team that runs the ball extremely well. Crockett hasn’t been able to deal with a strong ground game throughout the season.
Knox Fulton by 54 over Unicoi County; Sullivan South by 14 over Knox Carter, Elizabethton by 10 over Scott County; Greeneville by 54 over Grainger.
Scott County’s losses came against Alcoa, CAK and Knox Catholic, so they don’t have any bad ones.
Carter will have to rebound from a 68-0 spanking, and South gets the Hornets at home.
Sullivan North by 4 over Pigeon Forge; Chuckey-Doak by 6 over Johnson County, Alcoa by 50 over York Institute; CAK by 14 over Gatlinburg-Pittman.
Both of the games involving local teams should be quite competitive. If Doak struggles to stop the run, Johnson County has a chance at the upset.
Pick of the Week — Science Hill 31, Knox Farragut 23.
The Hilltoppers have moved past their nemesis and appear to be headed for bigger and better things. A healthy Malik McGue is likely a necessary ingredient for victory.
Picks record: 10-1.
Player of the week — Malik McGue of Science Hill.
It was a night to remember for the junior quarterback. Not only did McGue help his team end a 19-game losing streak to Dobyns-Bennett with a 35-24 win, he did it in dramatic late-game fashion.
In the final 5:17 of the contest, McGue helped erase a 24-14 deficit by throwing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Mikey White and then adding scoring runs of 27 and 19 yards.
McGue finished with 131 yards passing, hitting on 10 of 20 attempts with two touchdowns. He also rushed 12 times for 88 yards and two scores.
The Hogs Award — Daniel Boone Trailblazers.
In was rock-em, sock-em night for the “Trail Hogs” as they devastated Crockett for 342 yards rushing on 50 attempts for an average of 6.8 yards per carry in a 42-6 victory.
Boone also provided solid pass protection with 50 percent completions (2 for 4).
Defensive unit of the week — Johnson County Longhorns.
In a playoff-producing 49-13 win over Sullivan East, the ‘Horns limited the Patriots to 147 yards of offense. Johnson County surrendered just 40 yards rushing on 15 attempts for 2.7 per carry, picked off a pass, and forced six punts.
This Week in Prep History — November 5, 1999.
Leading rusher Andrew Rhinehart left the game with an injury after his first carry, but sophomore Neal Wandell scored on his first two carries and finished with 184 yards rushing and four touchdowns in Elizabethton’s 49-12 whipping of Cocke County in the first round of the TSSAA Class 4A playoffs.
Wandell had scoring runs of 13, 83, 14 and 2 yards.
There was quite a shakeup in the final Prep Top 10 of the season. Elizabethton and Science Hill each moved up a spot while Hampton returned to the rankings at No. 9.
Team W-L Prv
1. Greeneville 10-0 1
2. Elizabethton 9-1 3
3. Science Hill 8-2 4
4. Sullivan South 9-1 2
5. Dobyns-Bennett 6-4 5
6. Tennessee High 6-4 7
7. Sullivan North 6-4 9
8. Chuckey-Doak 7-3 10
9. Hampton 7-3 nr
10 Cloudland 9-1 6