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Six seconds helped Daniel Boone turn a down season into another run at the playoffs.
Trailblazers’ head football coach Jeremy Jenkins asks his offensive linemen to stay on their blocks in practice, and the whistle doesn’t blow until six seconds have elapsed.
Consistent sustained effort of that nature helped the ’Blazers earn a thrilling 15-10 win over rival Sullivan South on Friday night, putting them back in the driver’s seat for a shot at reaching the Class 5A postseason.
During a three-game losing streak, things didn’t look so rosy for Daniel Boone. But the opponents were Dobyns-Bennett, Tennessee High and Science Hill, and the Trailblazers were actually getting better — especially with a strong ground-game showing against the Hilltoppers.
“We really started getting better up front,” Jenkins said. “The kids were playing hard, and those games made us hungry. Then we got to a point where we could control our own destiny for the playoffs.”
Center Josh Smith, guards Chris Goodman and Austin Willis, and tackles Hunter Masters and Trevor Duncan joined forces with tight ends Zach Jackson and Jordan Stout to make Boone tough to stop on the ground.
Getting Austin McLemore healthy in the backfield and the emergence of Josh Bacon helped take the load off leading rusher Cliff Sanders.
“We’re fresh in the backfield,” said Jenkins.
Quarterback Jacob Littleton has improved, and the offense as a whole is getting the job done. Boone has averaged 28 points in its last four contests.
Boone muscled its way to 218 yards rushing on 56 attempts against South. The Trailblazers controlled the ball, eating the clock and snapping 23 more plays than the Rebels.
And because of that ball-holding display, Boone outgained South 268-258 despite South averaging 6.0 yards per play to 4.1 for Boone.
However, it was defense that made the biggest play against Sullivan South.
With the Rebels poised to take the lead with three minutes left in the game, Boone stopped a first-and-goal situation from the 2-yard line. On fourth down, still from the 2, Jackson burst through from his defensive end position and pushed the Rebels’ sweep out wide.
That allowed Littleton to fire in from his cornerback position and lead a group of tacklers way back at the 10-yard line. Boone then ran out the clock.
It signaled a change in a rivalry that had long been dominated by South, as it was Boone’s second straight win in the series.
“I think it started with last year’s win in the playoffs,” said Jenkins. “It was the way we won, 7-0. The kids knew we could beat them, and we wanted to be the most physical team.
“The kids fed off of that, and we won at the line of scrimmage again this time.”
Jenkins said there will be no problem for his players to take David Crockett as a threat in Week 10.
“It’s Crockett and that’s all you’ve got to say to get us ready,” said Jenkins. “We know we will get their best effort. We’ve got to come out hungry.”