When the Class 6A Hilltoppers visit Class 4A Greeneville on Friday, school size won’t have much to do with it. The Greene Devils beat Dobyns-Bennett — on the road — by 40 points in Week 1. In Week 3, the Indians defeated Science Hill on its home field.
Greeneville is loaded with Division I talent this season, but it hasn’t always been that way. On Oct. 2, 2009, the Greene Devils headed into a game with a record of 2-3. They haven’t been the same since.
Greeneville ripped off nine straight wins that year before losing in the Class 4A championship game to Giles County. The Greene Devils record since that date is 108-12. The winning percentage is .900. Yes, that’s nine wins for every 10 games — including the playoffs.
As remarkable as the record is, consider these things:
— Take out Morristown West, and the Greene Devils are 104-8.
— The current winning streak of 18 games would be 30 if not for a Hail Mary-loss to Knox Central in the second round of the 2016 playoffs.
— Greeneville has won three state championships during the span, and barring a mighty upset this season they will earn their second collection of back-to-back crowns in nine years.
Science Hill does have a win over Greeneville during this stretch. The Hilltoppers pounded the Greene Devils by a score of 49-21 in 2012. But that was a Science Hill team that ran out to 9-0 before a couple of tough losses to end the season, and it was Greeneville’s least-successful team (8-4) during this stretch.
40 Seconds Effect
There is still plenty of time to gauge the impact, but the play clock has already come into play — most notably in the Dobyns-Bennett/Science Hill contest Friday night. The Indians used the clock as their best friend and the strategy was an important part of the 24-21 win over the Hilltoppers.
Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter said, “It really has come into play,” said Carter. “If you can run the ball effectively, you can limit the other team’s opportunities. If you consistently run the ball, it can be a heck of a benefit. Halftime came quick, especially because we were trying to run the ball also.”
Before this season, teams had 25 seconds between plays. The play clock was started once the ball was set. The 40-second clock begins immediately when the ball is ruled dead by the officials.
Theoretically, a team could start at its own 10-yard line and eat up an entire half of football on one drive. It’s a far-fetched scenario requiring nine fourth-down conversions and running the play clock down to one second prior to each play. But it points out the significance of the clock-manipulation possibilities the new rule provides.
It’s not just that David Crockett is 3-0, and it’s not just the Pioneers’ No. 9 ranking in the state in Class 5A.
It is the way the Pioneers have handled their opponents thus far. In three games, Crockett has surrendered a total of 14 points. It was 17 years ago the last time Crockett had anything close to this kind of defensive stretch. That was 2001, when the Pioneers held Daniel Boone Boone (7), Volunteer (7) and Sullivan East (6) to 20 points.
And consider this: Crockett’s three victims this year — Seymour (35 points the week after), Campbell County (49 the week before) and Volunteer (46 and 33 the previous two weeks) — have all proven they can put points on the board.
This was supposed to be a Pioneers' team that would simply outscore its opponents with a truckload of offensive weapons.
Three weeks into the season, first-year head coach Hayden Chandley is racking up some serious street cred in the community and beyond. Plenty of proving remains, but Crockett has been one of the most suprising out-of-the-gates stories in the entire state.
Football games of the week
Science Hill at Greeneville
Sevier County at Dobyns-Bennett
Elizabethton at Daniel Boone
Hilltoppers vs. Greene Devils — Greeneville has outscored its three opponents this season by a combined margin of 154-3. One of those victims was Dobyns-Bennett, a team that defeated Science Hill on Friday night. That makes the Hilltoppers a 43-point underdog by pure comparison scores.
Smoky Bears vs. Indians — It’s a chance for Dobyns-Bennett to build a serious supply of momentum. The Bears have one win in three games, and it came against a winless team that has totaled just 17 points in its three games this season — 14 of them against Sevier County.
Cyclones vs. Trailblazers — There wasn’t a lot of preseason talk about this game being a potential battle of unbeaten teams. But here they are. Both squads have earned a win with defensive plays in the final seconds this year.
Pick of the Week
Elizabethton 21, Daniel Boone 20
These teams usually get after each other pretty heavy at the line of scrimmage. The game could be decided by one or two mistakes.
Picks record: 1-1.
Player of the Week
Ian Hicks, Dobyns-Bennett
The Indians’ senior wanted a taste of victory against Science Hill, so he spent Friday evening making sure it happened. He carried 29 times for 182 yards with two scores, and also caught a 32-yard touchdown pass in D-B’s first win over Science Hill since 2012.
Hicks scored the eventual game-winning touchdown with 1:06 left in the fourth quarter.
The Hogs Award
It was a line-of-scrimmage pounding for the Tribe Hogs. They consistently whipped Science Hill up the middle, allowing the offense to hold possession and earn a victory.
Defensive unit of the Week
David Crockett Pioneers
The Pioneers were dominant on both sides of the ball in the 55-0 win over Volunteer with the defense pitching a shutout. Crockett’s defense allowed only 88 total yards.
Dobyns-Bennett will try to keep its unbeaten record intact this week as it travels to play David Crockett on Thursday. The Lady Indians (16-0) will also participate in the Rocky Top Classic in Sevierville on Friday and Saturday.
Science Hill saw its unbeaten run come to an end over the weekend in Knoxville.
The Lady Hilltoppers moved to 6-0 with a 2-0 win over No. 9 Clarksville on Friday. On Saturday, Science Hill took its first loss, a 3-1 decision against Knox Catholic.
Then on Sunday, No. 3-ranked Collierville took the Lady Hilltoppers down in a 2-0 decision.
David Crockett and Daniel Boone power their way up to No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in this week’s High School Top 10 (only teams in the Johnson City Press/Times News coverage area are ranked).
Team (W-L) — Last Week
1. Elizabethton (3-0) — 1
2. David Crockett (3-0) — 3
3. Daniel Boone (2-0) — 5
4. Tennessee High (2-1) — 4
5. Dobyns-Bennett (1-2) — 6
6. Science Hill (1-2) — 2
7. Sullivan North (3-0) — 7
8. Sullivan South (2-1) — 8
9. Unicoi County (3-0) — 9
10. Johnson County (2-1) — 10