Interestingly enough, Science Hill and David Crockett both enter tonight’s football game with the same agenda.
Neither team is focused only on the opponent at hand, but mainly on taking care of their own business. The Hilltoppers simply want to get better, and the Pioneers simply want to play hard. The two teams will kickoff in a Big Eight Conference contest at 7:30 in Jonesborough.
Science Hill enters with a record of 1-0 in league play and 2-2 overall. Crockett is 0-1, 0-3.
In other Big Eight games, Daniel Boone plays host to Dobyns-Bennett, Tennessee High is at Sullivan South, and Volunteer travels to play Sullivan Central.
David Crockett is trying to end a two-game nightmare, where it allowed 127 points in losses to Tennessee High and Cocke County. Head coach Kent Green said his team needs something good to happen early, and to just keep trying.
“We are just telling the kids to keep playing hard,” said Green. “If you play hard and bad stuff happens, there’s not much you can do about it. But if you play hard, it can make good things happen.”
Meanwhile, Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter said he has talked to his players about not taking Crockett, or any opponent, lightly.
“We caution our kids all the time,” said Carter, whose team is coming off a last-play 22-19 loss to Morristown West. “But we’re just working on us getting better, and making a run at the end.”
Even though Science Hill has lost a pair of games, it’s focus on competing for a league title hasn’t been disrupted.
Offensively, Science Hill has been solid. It has the No. 1 offensive unit in the Big Eight, churning out 398.8 yards per game.
The defensive numbers don’t look as good at 294 yards per game. However, the Hilltoppers have faced arguably three of the top five offenses (Greeneville, Elizabethton and Morristown West) in this corner of the state.
And the defense is getting better.
“It has improved a lot,” said Carter. “We’ve been defending the pass well, and we’ve improved our tackling. We were a little disappointed with the tackling against Greeneville, and then it was a little better against Elizabethton. And then we tackled Morristown West great.”
Special teams have been an issue, but also a clearly defined focus this week. Any miscues against a lower-division team like Crockett could be cause for lasting concern.
“We’ve got to shore up our special teams,” said Carter.
Green said he expects Science Hill to clutter the box against his offense.
“We have a very good receiver and a pretty good quarterback,” said Green. “We’ve got to hit some passes, but we can’t throw all the time. We’ve got to get the running game going. If we’re one dimensional either way, we’re in trouble.”
Seth Wright is the standout receiver for Crockett. He is second only to Science Hill’s Aaron Greene (362 yards) for the league lead in receiving yards with 338. Wright has just seven catches, and is among the state’s leaders with a whopping 48.3 yards-per-catch average.
Crockett quarterback Devaun Miller has thrown for 364 yards and five touchdowns.
Science Hill counters with a nice quarterback of its own. Justin Snyder has thrown for 477 yards and five scores while also rushing for 253 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Dobyns-Bennett (1-0, 4-0) at Daniel Boone (1-0, 2-2) — The “Underdog” role got smaller for the Trailblazers over the past couple of weeks, but they are still wearing the white “U” on their red uniform.
The Indians come in with a fancy offense, and plenty of speed to make it work.
Despite all of these things, don’t expect Boone to just roll over. The Trailblazers’ defense has given up just 13 first downs in its last 10 quarters, and has authored back-to-back shutouts.
Boone also boasts the league’s leading rusher in Cliff Sanders, who has 493 yards in four games.
Tennessee High (1-0, 2-2) at Sullivan South (0-1, 1-2) — First-year Vikings head coach Shane Boggs could save himself a lot of grief with his own fans by guiding his team to a win here.
Tennessee has lost five of six in this rivalry, including last year’s 42-28 setback. So Boggs could erase some of sting of last week’s third-down-punt gaffe that cost the Vikings a chance at a late-game victory.
Volunteer (0-1, 0-4) at Sullivan Central (0-1, 0-3) — The Falcons have won just two of their last 25 games, and one of the wins was against the Cougars.
Central has won just two of its last 23 games, and one of the wins was against Volunteer.