Science Hill football coach Stacy Carter didn’t try to brush aside the personal significance of tonight’s game against Sullivan South.
“It’s a big game for all of us because we didn’t get that one last year,” said Carter. “And we have four (South) alumni on the staff with Scott and Ralph Nelson, Andrew Beck, and me. It’s an important game for sure.”
The Hilltoppers will try to avenge last year’s 28-21 loss to the Rebels when the teams meet for a key Big Eight Conference contest at Tipton Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
Science Hill enters with a record of 2-0 in league play and 3-2 overall while South is 1-1, 3-2.
In other Big Eight games, Daniel Boone travels to play Tennessee High, David Crockett is at Volunteer, and Dobyns-Bennett plays host to Sullivan Central.
Sullivan South is riding the emotional momentum of two come-from-behind overtime wins in the last two weeks. South trailed Tennessee High late in the fourth quarter before rallying for a 33-30 win, and last week trailed Elizabethton 21-7 in the third quarter before battling back for a 28-27 victory.
Meanwhile, Science Hill hasn’t played in two weeks because it had a bye last Friday. The time off was a good thing, said Carter.
“We healed up a lot, and we’ve had two weeks to prepare,” said Carter. “The kids seem to be fresh.”
South isn’t quite the wide-open team it has been over the past five or six years, said Carter.
“Their coaches do a good job with the people they have,” Carter said. “They try to keep a hold on the ball, and they run it from the shotgun. Then they try to lull you to sleep, and throw it deep.”
On the other side of the spectrum, Science Hill will go in a hurry when it has the ball.
“We will try to go fast, and move it as fast as we can,” said Carter. “It’s two different styles.”
Science Hill has a uniquely balanced attack, gaining 1,023 yards on the ground and 1,033 in the air through five games. Quarterback Justin Snyder is the yardage monster with 1,165 total yards, including 903 passing with eight touchdowns.
“You can’t prepare for just one thing against us,” said Carter. “And we’ve already faced a couple of really good defenses, so I hope that helps us. We really believe we can move the ball against anybody.”
The Rebels’ defense is led by linebacker J.C. Garvin, who leads the conference with 66 tackles and is tied for second with 6.5 tackles for loss.
South’s top offensive threats include quarterbacks Charlie Moore and Jake Weaver, who have combined for 500 yards passing and 460 yards rushing. In the win over Elizabethton, Weaver accounted for all four touchdowns with three rushing and one passing.
Daniel Boone (1-1, 2-3) at Tennessee High (1-1, 2-3) — One of these teams is going to be fighting for its playoff life after this game, while the winner will be on a good track.
The Vikings have outscored their opponents 179-98, but late-game failures have cost them in each of the last two weeks — a one-point loss to Virginia High and the overtime loss to South.
Meanwhile, the Trailblazers — who have won two straight games against the Vikings — have not played a close game all season. They lost by 28 and 20 before winning by 41 and 29, and then losing by 30.
David Crockett (0-2, 0-5) at Volunteer (1-1, 1-4) — Could this be the week the Pioneers finally experience some defensive success?
After giving up 46, 60, 67, 55 and 60 points in their first five games, Crockett faces a team that has scored only a total of 44 points over the last four weeks.
One significant point about this matchup is Volunteer’s 17-14 win last season, which eventually cost the Pioneers a playoff berth.
Sullivan Central (0-2, 0-5) at Dobyns-Bennett (2-0, 5-0) — It will likely be a long night for the Cougars, who have lost 13 straight games to the Indians.
Included in that mix are 61-7 and 41-7 blowouts in the last two seasons.