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Can Toppers finally snap 'The Streak'?

October 25th, 2011 9:50 am by Douglas Fritz

By Thursday night at 7:30, plenty will have been said about the showdown between Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill on the football field.

And that fact itself says something about this rivalry. When one team wins 17 straight games in a series, usually there’s not much left to talk about.

But each year the Hilltoppers keep wondering if this will be the year to end The Streak. Few, if anybody, doubts The Streak will end, so it’s a matter of when.

Add in Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter’s four losses to the Indians, and that monkey on the Hilltoppers’ backs looks more like Planet of the Apes.

The Streak has not been devoid of close games. The 10-6 win by the Indians in 2008 came down to a fourth-quarter, game-saving defensive play. And Carter had one close call against the Indians, a 7-6 loss for Sullivan South in 2005.

In some ways, it seems like the stage is set for a perfect storm. Science Hill is at home and has the highest-scoring team in school history through nine games, with 340 points. And the defense surrenders a reasonably solid 15 points per game.

However, the Indians have scored more points (424) and given up fewer (11 per game).

The teams have played similar schedules, with the Hilltoppers facing Greeneville, Morristown West and Elizabethton for their non-conference games while the Indians played Knox Farragut, Clinton and Sevier County.

The only softy in that six-team bunch was Clinton. However, Sevier County crushed Morristown West in their head-to-head matchup.

The Hilltoppers (6-0, 7-2) are looking for an eight-win regular season, something they’ve done just once in the last 15 years. D-B (6-0, 9-0) has won eight or more in the regular season 13 times in that same stretch.

Something the Hilltoppers can take as an encouraging sign is the closer games played in Johnson City. Over the last decade, the average score in Kingsport has been 37-9 while the average in Johnson City has been 18-4.

Just about everything this season points to a close game. And if it does come down to the final few minutes, Science Hill cannot wait for Dobyns-Bennett to make a mistake. The Indians likely won’t give it away, Science Hill will have to take it.

— Dalton Boles became the all-time leading rusher in Northeast Tennessee history Friday night, according to available information.

An adjustment in Boles’ career total was submitted by West Greene head coach Joe Case last week, lowering his total by 133 yards. Boles’ official yardage was 5,164 coming into Friday game, where he rushed for 251 yards in a 50-35 win over Chuckey-Doak. That gives him 5,415 for his career, the 14th-best performance in TSSAA history.

On the season, Boles has gained 2,489 yards. That is the 12th-best total in state history. Boles needs 113 yards to move into the top 10, and is 258 yards away from a top-five spot.

He will have at least one playoff game as the Buffaloes have clinched a Class 3A playoff berth.

Here is the list of all-time leading rushers in Northeast Tennessee, according to available information:

Dalton Boles, West Greene, 5,415 in 2011

Tommy Sams, Happy Valley 5,300+ in 1992.

Randy Birchfield, Cloudland 4,800+ in 1988.

Tim Clipse, Cloudland 1992 4,600+

Terry Copeland, Science Hill, 4,600+ in 1994

E-mail if you have information on any Northeast Tennessee player who may have reached at least 4,500 yards rushing for his career.

n Playoff update — If the playoffs started today, here’s a look at how things would stack up for area teams:

Class 6A — Hardin Valley at Maryville, Knox Bearden at Dobyns-Bennett, Knox Karns at Sevier County, Oak Ridge or Knox Farragut at Science Hill

It’s hard to guess the logic the TSSAA would use in choosing between Oak Ridge and Farragut. The best bet seems to have Oak Ridge heading to Quadrant 1 if Jefferson County can’t edge into the playoffs. The Patriots need a win over South Doyle and some help to hold off Memphis Wooddale and Lincoln County.

Class 5A — Daniel Boone at Morristown West, Cocke County at Knox West, Sullivan South at Morristown East, Cherokee at South Doyle

Tennessee High could be in danger of missing the playoffs even if it defeats Volunteer. If Jefferson County and Virginia High both lose this week, the Vikings’ second tiebreaker total would drop to four even with a win by Daniel Boone.

Class 4A — East Ridge at Greeneville, Sequoyah at Sullivan East, Scott County at Knox Fulton, Corryton Gibbs at Strawberry Plains Carter.

It’s another close call for the TSSAA between East Ridge and Livingston Academy for Quadrant 1. East Ridge is a three-hour drive for Greeneville while Livingston is three hours and nine minutes.

Class 3A — Gatlinburg-Pittman at Sullivan North, Happy Valley at West Greene, South Greene at Pigeon Forge, Chuckey-Doak at Elizabethton

It’s going to be touch and go for this quadrant. If Pittman beats Pigeon Forge, a team it has beaten five in a row and nine out of 10, the Highlanders are safe. However, if the Highlanders win and Loudon wins, it puts South Greene in some jeopardy — if the Rebels lose to Chuckey-Doak. Ditto for Happy Valley if it gets upset by Johnson County.

If Loudon and Pittman both lose, it will come down to tiebreakers that will be affected by three teams on Loudon’s schedule that currently have four wins apiece.

If Pittman, South Greene or Happy Valley miss the playoffs, Austin-East will move to Quadrant 1.

Class 2A — Hampton bye, North Greene bye. Cosby at Oliver Springs, Rockwood at Oneida

Honestly, the Bulldogs’ quadrant looks weak at this point. It would take a major upset to keep them from the semifinals if this quadrant holds form.

— Stat chat: Happy Valley is 13-7 in two seasons under Larry Shively and has an excellent chance to make it 14 wins by beating Johnson County.

That would be the most wins in back-to-back years for the Warriors since 2004. …

Sullivan East is averaging 33 points per game this season while Elizabethton is averaging 31. However, an argument can easily be made that the Cyclones have played a much tougher non-conference schedule than the Patriots.

— Several area teams will compete in the state volleyball tournaments this week in Murfreesboro.

In Class AAA, Sullivan South plays Wednesday morning against Germantown Houston. And in Class AA, South Greene plays East Hamilton on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. (EDT).

Also, North Greene plays Madison at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in a Class A contest.

Championship matches in all three classes are set for Friday.

— Girls soccer jumps back into the forefront today with regional semifinal action.

Included in the mix is Science Hill’s home game at 6:30 p.m. against Jefferson County in 1-AAA. The Hilltoppers (18-1) enter as a heavy favorite, having beaten the Lady Patriots 4-0 in an early-season contest. Jefferson County (7-10-4) recently endured a seven-match winless streak, including six losses.

In the other semifinal, Dobyns-Bennett (9-8-3) will travel to play Morristown West (13-2) at 6 p.m. The Trojans defeated the Indians 4-1 just two weeks ago.

Tonight’s winners will play Wednesday or Thursday in the region championship.

In Class A-AA, Elizabethton (9-4-4) will be a solid favorite against Cosby in a 6 p.m. match. Greeneville will play host to Grainger.

The winners meet in Thursday’s title game.

— Football games of the week — (Thursday) Dobyns-Bennett at Science Hill, Sullivan East at Elizabethton, (Friday) David Crockett at Daniel Boone, South Greene at Chuckey-Doak.

Indians vs. Hilltoppers — It’s a matchup of two high-powered offenses, and a pair of defenses who have played well also. It’s worth the price of admission.

Patriots vs. Cyclones — There’s plenty at stake here in terms of playoff positioning. Both teams are trying to lock up home-field advantage for the first round in their respective playoff divisions: 4A for East and 3A for the Cyclones.

Pioneers vs. Trailblazers — Yes, the records suggest Boone will win by a wide margin. But the rivalry says the Trailblazers better be ready for a old-fashioned rumble in the wilderness.

Rebels vs. Black Knights — Doak has lost some momentum for the playoffs while South Greene hasn’t completely secured a berth. So there’s plenty at stake.

— Pick of the week — Dobyns-Bennett 24, Science Hill 21.

The Brooklyn Dodgers finally broke through and defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series after repeated losses to them, making 1955 the answer to their “Wait ‘til next year!” cry.

The question for Science Hill’s football team... is this 1954 or 1955?

The game will almost surely be decided in the fourth quarter. D-B gets the slight nod because of its defense.

Picks record: 9-1.

n Player of the week — Anthony Campbell of David Crockett.

Staring down the barrel of a potential winless season, Campbell and the Pioneers regrouped and made the plays when it counted.

Campbell carried 10 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns — while also adding nine tackles and a sack on defense — to keep his team close. With Crockett trailing 28-21 and only 39 seconds left, Campbell returned the kickoff 60 yards to Central’s 13-yard line. That set up a touchdown, and Campbell added the game-winner with a 2-point conversion run.

Campbell finished with 183 all-purpose yards.
— The Hogs Award — Happy Valley Warriors.

Playing the No. 2-ranked team in the state in Class 2A, the “Happy Hogs” were feasting on a gourmet meal of bulldog all night. They blocked their way to 299 yards rushing on 37 attempts, an average of 8.1 yards per carry.

Pass protection was solid, too, with five completions in nine attempts for 56 percent.

— Defensive unit of the week — Dobyns-Bennett Indians.

In the 63-0 pounding of Volunteer, the Indians held the Falcons nearly nothing on offense. Volunteer had just five yards rushing on 21 attempts, and 21 yards through the air.

D-B’s defense forced 12 incomplete passes in 15 attempts, picked off two passes, and forced eight punts.

— This Week in Prep History — October 26, 2001.

Dobyns-Bennett held Science Hill to 152 yards of offense, half of the Hilltoppers’ season average, in a 31-0 win. D-B picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and also recovered two fumbles.

— West Greene jumps two spots and Daniel Boone returns to the rankings in this week’s Prep Top 10.

Team W-L Prv

1. Dobyns-Bennett 9-0 1

2. Greeneville 8-1 2

3. Science Hill 7-2 3

4. Sullivan North 9-0 4

5. Elizabethton 7-3 6

6. Hampton 8-1 5

7. Sullivan East 7-2 8

8. West Greene 7-3 10

9. Daniel Boone 4-5 nr

10. Sullivan South 5-4 7

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