Looking at last year’s final score between Daniel Boone and Knox West might lead people to think the Trailblazers got whipped.
However, the ’Blazers were down only 19-14 with six minutes left in the game and had possession of the ball.
So head coach Jeremy Jenkins said his team has confidence going into tonight’s TSSAA Class 5A playoff game.
“We’re going down there to win,” said Jenkins. “We’re not going for a moral victory just because they are 8-2 with losses to Maryville and Farragut. Our football team has played tough teams, too, like Dobyns-Bennett.”
Kickoff is set for 7 o’clock. In other Class 5A games, Sullivan South plays host to South Doyle, Cherokee visits Morristown East, and Cocke County is at Morristown West.
In Class 4A action, Greeneville plays host to Huntsville Scott while Sullivan East travels to take on Strawberry Plains Carter.
Jenkins said the obvious key is for his team to maintain ball control, something it has done very well this season. Boone averages 30 minutes of possession per game.
“We’ve got to keep the ball away from the other team, just like we’ve done the last three weeks,” said Jenkins.
Boone defeated Sullivan Central, Sullivan South and David Crockett, building three game’s worth of momentum for the playoffs.
“I think that’s huge for us,” said Jenkins. “The kids have had a great week of practice. We’ve just got to play hard and do what we’ve done the last three weeks.”
Boone is led by junior running back Cliff Sanders, who needs just 12 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. He has 14 touchdowns.
West will make it tough to run, using a five-man front.
“It starts with their nose tackle,” said Jenkins. “He’s a good-sized youngin. We’ve got to get a hat on a hat, and keep him nullified.
“And their linebackers are so active. They blitz two out of every three downs.”
When Knox West has the ball, it will be looking to run. However, quarterback Ryan Francis is a capable passer (621 yards, six touchdowns). Anthony Bright, Robbie Flood and Francis are the top rushing threats. Bright and Flood have combined for 1,299 yards with 21 total touchdowns.
“They have a lot of speed,” said Jenkins.
n South Doyle (5-5) at Sullivan South (6-4) — This is a very important game for head coach Sam Haynie in terms of establishing a tradition after the departure of Stacy Carter to Science Hill.
The Rebels were upset in the first round by rival Daniel Boone in Haynie’s first year, and once again they enter as a slight favorite against the Cherokees.
— Scott (5-5) at Greeneville (9-1) — Defense of the Class 4A title begins here.
The Greene Devils have done a superb job over the past two postseasons of taking their opponents seriously, so the Highlanders likely won’t be able to sneak up on them. Under head coach Caine Ballard, Greeneville has outscored its playoff opponents 330-107 for an average score of 33-11.
— Sulivan East (7-3) at Carter (6-4) — The Patriots have enjoyed a very good season, especially coming off a winless campaign.
However, the playoffs could be a different story because East’s seven wins came against teams with a total record of 13-57.
Carter finished second in its league, and defeated Austin-East and Pigeon Forge. Quarterback Ryan Kirkland has over 2,000 total yards and has accounted for 21 touchdowns.