With the way Phillip Waters ran last Friday night, Cosby might as well have been trying to tackle a river.
And Unicoi County may need to build a dam for tonight’s contest at Gentry Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
Hampton’s 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior running back cut loose for a 332 yards on 26 carries, breaking a 55-year-old school record in a 32-7 win over Cosby. Waters also scored three touchdowns.
“He’s pretty fast and he ran around people,” said Bulldogs’ head coach Mike Lunsford. “He broke some tackles, and he’s a strong kid.”
Hampton is 2-0 on the season while Unicoi County (2-1) comes in with a two-game winning streak.
In other area games, Daniel Boone plays host to Happy Valley and David Crockett is at home to take on Cocke County.
Also in the Class AAA ranks, Dobyns-Bennett plays host to Sevier County, Sullivan South visits Gate City, Va., and Tennessee High is on the road against Virginia High. Volunteer is at Cherokee.
In games involving Class AA teams, Elizabethton travels to Waynesville, N.C., to play Tuscola, while Sullivan North is the home team against Union County. Greeneville is at Franklin County, South Greene plays host to North Greene, and West Greene visits Unaka.
Any of those teams would love to have a performance like Waters delivered. He did the bulk of his damage in the first half, racking up over 200 yards rushing.
Lunsford said he was informed of Waters’ total in the second half.
“I was told he had 298 yards rushing and the record was 302 (set by Don Holtsclaw). I said, ‘Well, he’s going to get it.’ And we let him have a few more carries.”
Lunsford said it was one of the better performances he has seen in his coaching career.
“It seems like he would break the line of scrimmage and get outside and go 70 or 80 yards,” said Lunsford. “He’s a hard worker and he’s a humble kid.”
Despite Waters’ thunderous performance, Lunsford said Unicoi County won’t be able to just key on him.
“Justin Adkins might have more yards than Waters,” said Lunsford. “It’s just a night-by-night thing.”
Regardless, the Blue Devils will definitely be a threat to Hampton. The Bulldogs have beaten Unicoi six straight times, but three of the last four games have been decided by three points or less. That includes last year’s 44-41 shootout.
“They’ve got a good ball team,” said Lunsford. “They’re better than they have been, and they will tell you that. They’re a big school, and they play more kids than we do. We will have to play tough and hard-nosed.”
n Happy Valley (2-1) at Daniel Boone (1-2) — The Trailblazers’ defense has been a big part of the team’s turnaround after a difficult start to the season.
“We’ve played shutout, lights-out defense for the last six quarters,” said Boone head coach Jeremy Jenkins. “And the offense has started taking care of the ball.”
Boone had 10 turnovers in its first two games, but last week had one while forcing three. Turnovers would be a big bonus against a team like Happy Valley, which likes to run the football and sustain drives.
“Happy Valley really plays hard,” said Jenkins. “That’s the thing that jumps out at you on film. And they are very athletic at the skill positions.”
The Warriors are coming off a 41-0 loss to rival Elizabethton, so they will likely be ready to put that bad scene behind them. Meanwhile, Boone is coming off a 41-0 win over Volunteer and is looking to keep the momentum rolling.
n Sevier County (3-0) at Dobyns Bennett (3-0) — Offense should be on prime display.
The Indians are coming off a 63-point effort while the Smoky Bears have totaled over 35 points in every game this season.
D-B has won 10 of the last 11 meetings between these teams.
n Cocke County (2-1) at David Crockett (1-2) — Things don’t get much easier for the Pioneers, who surrendered 106 points in their first two games.
Cocke County has put up 88 points in its first three games, including last week’s 43-33 win over Seymour. Perhaps making matters worse for Crockett is the Fighting Cocks are hungry to end a five-game losing streak in this series.
n Elizabethton (2-1) at Tuscola N.C. (0-3) — The Cyclones are playing a program that recently won nine games one season and 10 in another, but have struggled out of the gates in 2011.
However, Tuscola was competitive in a 30-14 loss to powerful Asheville, N.C., last week.
Elizabethton is led by quarterback McKenly Berry, who has thrown for 524 yards and six touchdowns in three games.
n Greeneville (1-1) at Franklin County (1-2) — The Greene Devils have had two weeks to digest the end of their 16-game winning streak, and are no doubt chomping at the bit to get back in the win column.
n North Greene (3-0) at South Greene (2-1) — Unfortunately for the Huskies, they won’t be able to fly under the radar for this one. The rival Rebels are well aware North Greene hasn’t given up a point this season, and will be looking to make a point in more ways than one.
n West Greene (1-2) at Unaka (0-3) — With six points scored in three weeks, the Rangers may have to go into this week looking for a few points and a moral victory against a tough Buffaloes squad.