Dobyns-Bennett gives Science Hill no quarter.
The Indians have beaten the Hilltoppers 17 straight times, and didn’t want so much as an asterisk in disappearing ink on said series supremacy when they left the Toppers’ house of the holy — Kermit Tipton Stadium — after the Big Eight Conference Jamboree on Thursday night.
It was quite a scene for a scrimmage. A large crowd cheered like money was riding on it and large players collided like history was riding on it.
Of course, the Indians’ Devaun Swafford scored from a yard out with 18 seconds left for the contest’s only score. That Swafford was still in the game at the end revealed that this was not your usual 12-minute tussle.
“Well, they were competing,” Dobyns-Bennett coach Graham Clark said. “They wanted to go a little bit longer, and then we’ve got two or three younger guys hurt. … And I didn’t see any of their (the Hilltoppers’) twos out there, either.”
There were plenty of reasons for optimism for Science Hill, especially considering its offense was more vanilla than Robert Van Winkle. The Hilltoppers ground game, powered primarily by brothers Jahmar and Will Adams, moved the chains.
“I was very impressed with how we moved the ball on the ground … especially running the same play over and over,” Science Hill coach Stacy Carter said. “We feel good about that.”
But a scene that was common against quality opponents in 2010 materialized to stall Science Hill drives. Quarterback Justin Snyder fell victim to either coverage sacks or his inability to locate the open target, and defenders quickly converged when he was flushed from the pocket.
Carter continued to say after the game that running back Luke Hampton will play quarterback at times this season. But Clark wasn’t surprised to be scheming against Snyder, a two-year starter.
“Snyder’s done a lot of good things,” Clark said, “and he will continue to.”
D-B’s option game was ultimately the difference Thursday. Fullback Paul Slaughter gashed the Toppers several times with quick hitters, helping free up a path to the edge for several other runs.
“I mean that’s our offense,” Clark said. “You’ve got to make them respect what you do inside. Paul’s obviously a threat there. I thought he was gonna break one.”
Science Hill was without arguably its best full-time interior defensive lineman, Isaiah Stephens (ankle), who could be ready for the opener Friday at Greeneville.
Perhaps it was best that Science Hill didn’t outscore Dobyns-Bennett. If ever a team could’ve been flat for a season opener against a defending state champion because of winning a 12-minute scrimmage the previous week – well, the Hilltoppers actually could’ve been battling some of that had they beaten D-B.
The gorilla on Science Hill’s back didn’t get any bigger Thursday, but it did plenty of yapping.
n After winning an area-best 19 games the previous two seasons, Daniel Boone suffered heavy losses thanks to a graduating class that included Kevin Connell, Austin Reppart, Hayden Chandley and Travis Keever.
But Jeremy Jenkins’ Trailblazers looked impressive in a 12-0 Big Eight Jamboree win against rival David Crockett. Running backs Cliff Sanders and Austin McLemore are worth the price of admission.
“I’m a Crockett guy, and I use Boone as an example all the time around here,” North Greene coach Josh Edens said. “Jeremy Jenkins’ boys play mistake-free and turnover-free football. They don’t commit a lot of penalties, they don’t turn the rock over and you see what their record’s been the last couple of years.”
Edens has energized a North Greene program that was barely registering a pulse when he arrived for spring camp in 2010.
The Huskies won two games in Edens’ first season, which doesn’t sound like much until considering that he inherited a program that’d lost 27 straight and 35 of 36. Fifty-seven players came out this season, which they’ve been excited about since ending 2010 with a win against Hancock County on Senior Night.
“I had a math teacher come up to me, Danny Myers, and say ‘Coach, I just wanted to tell you that you’re doing a good job and congratulations on the progress you’ve made,’” Edens said. “And this is what said it all for me – it about gets you choked up – he said ‘You know, we’re just done with the season and these kids will not shut up about football and next season.’ For us to be able to walk off the field not going to the playoffs and finish 2-8, and our kids are going to the classroom saying ‘Wait till next year’ – that meant a lot to me.”
Edens is trying to immolate what his high school coach, Brent Bledsoe, did for David Crockett. Edens said Bledsoe, now an assistant at LaVergne, impacted players on and off the field.
“Brent Bledsoe was the one that came in to a losing program at Crockett and told us every single day ‘I’m not gonna let you be a loser,’” Edens said. “He was the one telling us: tuck our shirt in in the hallway; look like somebody; don’t use that language; straighten up; a C is not acceptable in class. He was the guy that constantly said – in every aspect of our lives – ‘I’m not gonna let you be a loser. You’re not gonna practice like a loser. You’re gonna live by a standard.’
“I try to take that principle that meant so much to me as a player and apply it to the way we do business here. If I can do half the job he did at Crockett, we’re gonna be a success this year.”
North Greene opens at home Friday in what will be the debut of Tri-Cities Christian’s first official 11-player season.