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Crockett, Boone prepare for their biggest stage

Douglas Fritz • Updated Oct 16, 2018 at 5:03 PM

There has never been a Musket Bowl like this.

Since David Crockett and Daniel Boone opened in 1971, these teams have never met in a more meaningful game than the one that will take place Friday night in Jonesborough.

Crockett tied a school record for wins with last week’s 24-21 overtime win over Tennessee High. The Pioneers are 8-0 and ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 5A.

Daniel Boone (7-1) has five wins in a row and is ranked No. 6 in the state.

The Johnson City Press and Kingsport Times News have a vote in the Associated Press poll, and this week that vote was cast with Crockett at No. 2 and Boone at No. 3. It was a tip of the hat to both teams — a measure of respect for what these teams’ coaches, players and fans have accomplished to this point.

It’s an amazing climb for the Pioneers to put themselves in a position to make history. Consider this: Crockett has endured seven winless seasons, nine with one win, and 11 with two victories. That’s 27 out of the Pioneers’ 47 years of existence with two wins or less.

They are also coming off a 2017 campaign that was full of promise before it ended with four straight losses and three head coaches in a public-spotlight stretch.

Meanwhile, Daniel Boone has turned things around since its own one-win season in 2015. The Trailblazers went 5-6 in 2016 and 8-3 last year, before having things fall neatly into place this season.

Boone has dominated the Musket Bowl, winning 35 of the 46 contests. The Trailblazers have won 14 of the last 15 meetings.

This game has everything a high school fan could want. It’s worth a ticket and a bag of popcorn, just for pure entertainment value.

Count the days, boys. Friday can’t get here soon enough. Best wishes to both teams.

GAME CHANGER

Kody Lewis is not just another high school running back.

The 5-10, 180-pound Unicoi County junior has legitimate speed, and he has been running up and down the football field like a blue rocket all season.

“He runs a legitimate 4.4 in the 40-yard dash,” said Blue Devils’ head coach Drew Rice. “But his success is a testament to the work he’s put in to becoming the best football player he can be.”

In Friday’s win over West Greene, Lewis cut loose for 396 yards rushing and four touchdowns. For the season, he has gained 1,546 yards on 124 carries for a remarkable average of 12.5 yards per carry. He has 21 total touchdowns.

Lewis comes by his ability naturally, said Rice.

“His older brother (Dylan) was one of the best football players I ever coached, so it’s certainly in his blood,” Rice said.

Dylan Lewis was chosen as the Johnson City Press All-Tough Guy captain in 2016.

The Blue Devils get a week off before their showdown against Johnson County for the Region 1-3A championship.

MAKING PROGRESS

With losses to all three of its rivals — Elizabethton, Dobyns-Bennett and Daniel Boone — none of which was expected, Science Hill could have mailed it in for 2018.

However, the Hilltoppers bounced back with a near upset of Knox Farragut, and followed that tough loss with impressive wins over Hardin Valley and Morristown West. Science Hill can climb back to the .500 mark with a win over Jefferson County on Friday, which would give the Hilltoppers two weeks to prepare for a Class 6A playoff contest.

STANDOUT STATS

Cade Ballard’s TD-to-interception ratio slowed Friday night, but his “off” games can be career-high efforts for a lot of quarterbacks.

Ballard was 18 of 21 for 215 yards and one touchdown in a 35-20 win over Elizabethton. The three incompletions and one score moved his season totals to 17 misses and 25 touchdowns.

It can be noted one of his incomplete passes Friday was a drop that may have turned into a touchdown.

For the season, he is 93 for 110 (85 percent) for 1,850 yards.

BEST IN THE STATE

The top 10 public-school rankings, regardless of classification, after Week 9:

Team (W-L) — Class

1. Alcoa (8-0) — 3A

2. Maryville (7-1) — 6A

3. Oakland (7-1) — 6A

4. Greeneville (8-0) — 4A

5. Cane Ridge (9-0) — 6A

6. Germantown (8-0) — 6A

7. Blackman (7-1) — 6A

8. Mt. Juliet (8-0) — 6A

9. Knox Fulton (6-1) — 5A

10. Whitehaven (6-2) — 6A

Football games of the week

Daniel Boone at David Crockett

Elizabethton at Sullivan South

Johnson County at Cloudland

Trailblazers vs. Pioneers — It doesn’t get much better from a rivalry standpoint, and the contrast of styles — Boone’s power (think: Charlie Cole) versus Crockett’s air attack (think: Cade Larkins) — should provide a dandy battle of wills.

Cyclones vs. Rebels — After putting everything on the field against Greeneville, will the Cyclones bounce back quickly enough to take care of South and earn a home playoff game?

Longhorns vs. Highlanders — It’s 3A versus 1A, but it’s a battle of heavyweights between these mountain rivals. Cloudland has given up just 27 points over the last five weeks while Johnson County has surrendered just 20 over the last four.

Pick of the Week

Daniel Boone 36, David Crockett 34

It would only be fitting if this game was decided in overtime — on a 2-point conversion.

One way of looking at it: A powerful running team can control the game in the long run. Advantage: Boone.

Another way of looking at it: High school teams seem to lack the ability to stop a really good passing attack. Advantage: Crockett.

What tilts the scales? There has to be a tiebreaker, and this seems logical: Crockett is a little better running the ball than Boone is throwing it.

But why should logic decide the issue? Boone by two.

Picks record: 5-3.

Player of the Week

Kody Lewis, Unicoi County

Lewis rocked Northeast Tennessee with a 396-yard rushing effort in a 41-20 win over West Greene. The junior scored four touchdowns, and was also a big factor on defense with 12 total tackles.

The Hogs Award

Unicoi County Blue Devils

It was a night to remember for Blue Hogs. They mashed West Greene’s defense to the tune of 536 yards rushing on on 51 attempts for an average of 10.5 per carry in a 41-20 victory.

Defensive unit of the Week

Science Hill Hilltoppers

It’s two weeks in a row for Science Hill to earn this honor. This time it was a surprising 35-0 shutout of Morristown West.

The Trojans came into the game having scored 76 points in their previous three games, but couldn’t get anything going against the suddenly stout Science Hill defense. West managed only 67 total yards in the first half, and things didn’t get better after halftime.

Girls soccer

Science Hill begins its quest for a region title Tuesday as it plays host to Jefferson County in a 1-AAA semifinal contest. It is set for 7 p.m. at Tipton Stadium.

The other semifinal matches Knox Bearden and Tennessee High. Tuesday’s winners play Thursday for the region championship.

In Class AA, Elizabethton will be the underdog as it hits the road to battle Seymour.

And in Class A, University High faces a difficult road challenge against Alcoa.

Football rankings

Elizabethton’s loss to Greeneville was competitive enough to keep the Cyclones in the No. 1 spot of 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 (7-1) ― 1

2. David Crockett (8-0) ― 2

3. Daniel Boone (7-1) ― 3

4. Tennessee High (6-3) ― 4

5. Science Hill (4-5) ― 5

6. Johnson County (7-1) ― 7

7. Sullivan South (6-2) ― 8

8. Dobyns-Bennett (2-6) ― 6

9. Unicoi County (8-1) ― 9

10. Cloudland (7-1) ― 10

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