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Greeneville gets to the end zone — quickly

Douglas Fritz • Updated Oct 8, 2018 at 5:26 PM

Many things set Greeneville apart from other high school football teams.

But one of the most significant things is the amount of time the offense possesses the football with its first-team unit on the field. Does Greeneville have the football? If so, the Greene Devils are probably getting ready to score.

Over the last two games, Greeneville’s first-team offense held the ball for a little over five minutes and scored 77 points. Eleven touchdowns. That’s a touchdown for every 28 seconds of clock time.

And here’s the kicker to those numbers: Only one of those 11 drives was under 30 yards, and seven of them started in Greeneville territory.

Here are that unit’s scoring drives over the last two weeks: 1 play (70 yards), 3 plays (46), 3 plays (80), 1 play (72), 1 play (53), 1 play (65), 2 plays (70), 1 play (45), 2 play (57), 1 play (27) and 1 play (45).


Those stunning numbers almost make the defense for Pisgah, North Carolina, look like the 1985 Chicago Bears. Pisgah forced Greeneville to take 7, 5, 3, 4 and 4 plays to earn its five first-team scores in Week 5.

Science Hill made Greeneville use four plays four times with other drives of three plays and two.

For the season, Greeneville’s first unit has 40 touchdown drives. Well over half of them have been three plays or less.

So when Elizabethton’s defense lines up against the Greene Devils on Friday night — in a battle of teams ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the state in Class 4A — its first task will be finding a way to make Greeneville expend some energy on offense.

MAKING PROGRESS

Even when running, progress still comes one step at a time. Sullivan Central took its first step in the right direction Friday night, ending a 36-game losing streak with a 51-42 victory over county rival Sullivan East.

The Cougars fell behind four times in the game, and could have said, ‘Here we go again,’ at any of those points. But instead they persevered and scored the last two touchdowns of the contest for a thrilling win — beginning a new streak they won’t mind if people talk about it.

LONGHORNS RUMBLING

Johnson County continued to make noise on the mountain with Friday’s 28-7 win over Happy Valley.

It was a strong defensive effort throughout, and the Longhorns’ special teams produced the first score by recovering a fumble in the end zone on a punt attempt.

Nathan Lane added a 3-yard touchdown run and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from Troy Arnold. Lane later capped his big night with a 95-yard touchdown run. He finished with 147 yards on 14 carries. Zach Eller had four receptions for 120 yards, and Tyler Norris was credited with 18 tackles on defense.

Johnson County is 6-1 and is in the process of compiling momentum for the Week 11 showdown at Unicoi County.

STANDOUT STATS

With one incomplete pass and three touchdown tosses on Friday — including a deep 53-yard scoring strike to Cameron Hite — Greeneville quarterback Cade Ballard continued his incredible run.

He has 24 touchdown passes and only 14 incompletions this season. He is 75 for 89 (84 percent) for 1,635 yards.

CUTTING CORNERS

Margin of victory is a good indicator of dominance, so Greeneville might be expected to be at the top of the state’s list for the season. But the Greene Devils are second.

Cornersville, located 60 miles south of Nashville, has scored 394 points while surrendering only 20 for a season margin of 374. The Class 1A school allowed 20 points in its opener, and followed with seven consecutive shutouts.

Greeneville’s margin is 338 with 362 points scored and 24 allowed.

Rounding out the top 10 are South Pittsburg (292), Mt. Juliet (287), Alcoa (281), Meigs County (276), Peabody (265), Kirby (264), Germantown (261) and Maplewood (258).

BEST IN THE STATE

The top 10 public-school rankings, regardless of classification, after Week 8:

Team (W-L) — Class

1. Alcoa (7-0) — 3A

2. Greeneville (7-0) — 4A

3. Maryville (6-1) — 6A

4. Oakland (6-1) — 6A

5. Germantown (8-0) — 6A

6. Cane Ridge (8-0) — 6A

7. Farragut (8-0) — 6A

8. Blackman (6-1) — 6A

9. Mt. Juliet (8-0) — 6A

10. Knox Fulton (6-1) — 5A

Football games of the week

David Crockett at Tennessee High

Elizabethton at Greeneville

Hampton at South Greene

Pioneers vs. Vikings — These teams have two common opponents and remarkably similar outcomes. Crockett beat Volunteer 55-0 while the Vikings won 49-0. The Pioneers defeated Cocke County 41-20 while Tennessee High won 48-28.

This matchup should be a dandy.

Cyclones vs. Greene Devils — It was 3-3 at halftime last year, and the Cyclones out-gained Greeneville 128-49. The second half was entirely different as the Greene Devils out-gained the Cyclones 197-91 and pulled away for a 24-10 win.

Which half will this year’s game resemble more closely?

Bulldogs vs. Rebels — There weren’t many people, if any, projecting this matchup as a battle for first place in Region 1-2A. But the suddenly red-hot Rebels, who have won five in a row and outscored their last two opponents by a combined 97-0 margin, have thrust themselves into title contention.

Pick of the Week

Greeneville 35, Elizabethton 14

Elizabethton should be able to move the football against the Greene Devils, but the Cyclones will have to find paydirt at the end of any ventures into Greeneville territory.

The eye test says the Cyclones won’t be able to match Greeneville’s offensive output.

Picks record: 4-3.

Player of the Week

Cade Larkins, David Crockett

It was yet another high-level performance for the standout junior quarterback. He tossed passes all over the field, racking up 367 yards and five touchdowns to lead his undefeated team to a 41-10 win over Cherokee.

The Hogs Award

Daniel Boone Trailblazers

It was an evening of creating holes in the defense and protecting the quarterback for the Trail Hogs. Boone’s offensive line cleared the way for 376 yards rushing along with near-perfect pass protection (5 of 6 completions) in a 61-15 crushing of Volunteer.

Defensive unit of the Week

Science Hill Hilltoppers

In its best performance of the season, the Hilltoppers shut down Hardin Valley’s high-powered attack. Science Hill kept the Hawks out of the end zone, allowing only four yards per rushing attempt and coming away with a pair of fumble recoveries in the 17-3 win.

Girls soccer

District action hits high gear Tuesday with the semifinals slated in each of the three classifications.

In 1-AAA, Science Hill is the favorite with an expected challenge from Dobyns-Bennett.

In Class AA, Greeneville is a .500 team at 7-7-3, but the Lady Greene Devils are unbeaten against teams in their classification and a strong favorite. The biggest threat is Elizabethton.

And in Class A, Chuckey-Doak is favored, but the Lady Black Knights (9-1-3) played University High (4-6-1) to a draw last week.

Football rankings

Science Hill works it way up a couple of spots to No. 5 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 (7-0) ― 1

2. David Crockett (7-0) ― 2

3. Daniel Boone (6-1) ― 3

4. Tennessee High (6-2) ― 4

5. Science Hill (3-5) ― 7

6. Dobyns-Bennett (2-5) ― 6

6. Johnson County (6-1) ― 8

8. Sullivan South (5-2) ― 5

9. Unicoi County (7-1) ― 9

10. Cloudland (5-1) ― NR

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