First, the Hilltoppers have beaten the Indians six times in a row and have momentum coming into game. Advantage: Hilltoppers.
The other angle? Dobyns-Bennett is a wounded bear at 0-2, and the Indians could change the course of their season with one win. Advantage: Indians.
These longtime rivals will meet for the 97th time with the Indians holding a 62-29-5 series advantage. Kickoff is scheduled for Friday at Tipton Stadium at 7:30 p.m. It is the Region 1-6A opener for both teams.
The game will be televised by WCYB on the Tri-Cities CW. The program will also be simulcast on the WCYB Facebook Page.
Science Hill opened the season with a 36-34 loss to Elizabethton. The Hilltoppers missed a tying 2-point conversion with 14 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Hilltoppers won their second contest, a 35-34 decision against Ooltewah where the Owls missed a lead-changing 2-conversion attempt with 1:56 left in the fourth quarter.
If the game against Dobyns-Bennett is as close as those, the fans will their money’s worth.
As for the Indians, they were hammered by Class 4A defending state champion Greeneville 43-3 in the season opener. In Week 2, D-B got crushed by Oak Ridge with a final score of 41-12.
Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter said he believes the Indians will be a tough opponent.
“They are a whole lot better than they’ve shown,” said Carter. “We’ve seen that on film. They had a lot of breaks go against them at Oak Ridge.”
Carter said D-B head coach Joey Christian and the Indians need only look to last season to find a silver lining in the storm.
“One thing Joey can draw on is: We beat them last year, and they still won the conference,” said Carter. “I’m sure he’s telling them they’ve been here before and they can do it again.”
One way to eliminate the effectiveness of that approach is for the Hilltoppers to secure an early lead.
“I think it’s very important for us to jump on them early and put doubt in their minds,” said Carter.
Science Hill has been a run-first team this season, so that phase of the game will have the Indians’ full attention. But D-B won’t have to make defensive changes to attack the Hilltoppers’ ground weaponry.
“They’re pretty much in (the box) all the time,” said Carter. “They are man coverage with seven in there. We will have to throw the ball downfield to loosen them up. We have to do that against anybody.”
The Hilltoppers’ defense will be challenged by the Indians’ big offensive line.
“They are one of those teams that comes right at you,” said Carter. “And I think Ian Hicks is one of the best running backs in the league. He’s a very tough runner. They do a good job holding on to the ball, shortening the game, and making it tough in the trenches.”
Science Hill has a good runner, too, in Chris Thomas. He has gained 320 in two games with five touchdowns.
At game’s end, one of these teams will be tied for first place and the other will be tied for last place. But even without that incentive, it’s still Science Hill versus Dobyns-Bennett.
“I think our kids know what this game means,” said Carter. “Even when we started winning, it has been a battle. They will play their best, and we will play good, too.”