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Going for the gold: Can Crockett crack Fort Knoxville?

Douglas Fritz • Updated Nov 13, 2018 at 12:37 PM

To keep its football season alive, David Crockett will have to break into “Fort Knoxville” on Friday night.

That’s the place where the vast majority of gold hardware is stored. Fort Knoxville houses 38 gold balls among just three schools: Maryville (16), Alcoa (16) and Fulton (6). Oak Ridge has four.

Crockett’s opponent Friday, Knoxville Central, doesn’t have any. But the Bobcats earned silver with runner-up finishes in 1999 and 2016, when they handed Greeneville its only loss in the last 39 games.

In a season of removing the “unprecedented” tag from many things, the Pioneers face another chance at a first. Crockett, like other area schools, has never taken down a Knoxville power in the postseason.

Friday night at Knox Central — in the TSSAA Class 5A state quarterfinals — the Pioneers will get an opportunity to beat a school from an area that has dominated Tri-Cities teams through the years.

In the past six seasons, Knoxville-area teams have won the following quarterfinal matchups:

2016 — Alcoa 17, Elizabethton 14

2016 — Austin-East 20, Happy Valley 13

2014 — Fulton 49, Sullivan South 14

2014 — Maryville 45, Science Hill 0

2012 — Powell 31, Tennessee High 10

2012 — Maryville 41, Dobyns-Bennett 20

Also in 2012, Elizabethton lost to Christian Academy of Knoxville in the semifinals. Because of the setup at that time, the Cyclones played and defeated Sullivan North in the quarterfinals. Hampton defeated Knoxville’s Grace Christian in the 2015 Class 2A quarterfinals, but Grace was just 7-6 that season.

Looking further back through history, the playoff road is littered with area teams meeting their end against Knoxville football teams.

What is the reason for it? It is because Knoxville schools play in the shadows of the University of Tennessee, at one time a college football behemoth on the national landscape? Does that city annually produce more athletes? Does Knoxville boast the cream of the coaching crop? Whatever the case, area teams traditionally have found it exceedingly difficult to get past the tougher Knoxville teams. Central certainly qualifies as a Knoxville power this season, winning 10 in a row with an average margin of victory of 42-8. That includes last week’s 49-7 second-round whipping of Daniel Boone.

Among the Pioneers’ new accomplishments this season are nine wins, followed by 10, 11 and 12 — the latter coming in last week’s 32-0 whipping of Tennessee High in the second round.

But perhaps the most notable thing Crockett can do this week is change the narrative from being compared to its own past — and step into the conversation with some of the best teams in Tri-Cities history.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING

David Crockett quarterback Cade Larkins moved into eighth place on the state’s all-time single-season list with 295 yards passing against Tennessee High on Friday.

Larkins has 3,728 yards and is just 160 yards away from jumping all the way to fourth place.

Also, Larkins has 40 touchdown passes, putting him one away from a top-10 all-time single-season standing.

For his career, the junior has 8,147 yards passing, moving him into 10th place in Tennessee history.

HISTORY IN THE BOOKS

Elizabethton’s Carter Everett finished his career with 6,888 yards passing to go along with 83 touchdown tosses. He was injured in the first quarter of Friday’s season-ending loss Anderson County, and did not return.

His career touchdown passing total moved into a tie for 11th place as Greeneville’s Cade Ballard (118) and Anderson County’s Stanton Martin (93 over the last two seasons) will move onto the list ahead of Everett. …

Elizabethton running back Corey Russell fell one short of tying Ethan Thomas’ school record for career touchdowns. Russell was forced to move from receiver to quarterback after Everett’s injury, and did not score against Anderson County. He finished with 78 touchdowns.

Football playoff games to watch

David Crockett at Knox Central

Greeneville at Anderson County

South Greene at Meigs County

Pioneers vs. Bobcats — Can Crockett keep Central’s tough defensive line from disrupting the Pioneers’ offensive flow? Do the Bobcats have enough athletes in the secondary to keep up with Crockett receivers Donta Hackler, Micah Robinson and John Kollie? Can Crockett’s defense slow down Central’s high-powered offense?

Greene Devils vs. Mavericks — One thing seems certain: Greeneville won’t be susceptible to a fast start by Anderson County after falling behind 21-0 in last year’s battle. It should be a terrific physical battle as the Mavericks have the toughness to lock horns with the Greene Devils — up to a point. Look for Greeneville, just like last year, to make the decisive plays in the second half.

Rebels vs. Tigers — After passing two playoff tests, everything gets pushed to the limit this week for South Greene in a heavy underdog role against the No. 1-ranked team in the state — which has won 10 games by four touchdowns or more, one by 21 points, and last week over Rockwood by 14 points.

Pick of the Week

Knox Central 33, David Crockett 28

It’s likely going to be a game of big offensive plays with plenty of points, but also some highlights from the defensive side of the ball. The Bobcats will likely try to get heavy pressure on Crockett’s Cade Larkins to slow down the Pioneers’ high-octane passing attack.

It could come down to a few plays here or there.

Picks record: 7-5.

College signings

Tennessee High’s Gavin Cross will be joining the Division I ranks next year. Cross will make it official Wednesday when he signs to play baseball with Virginia Tech. The ceremony is set for 2:45 p.m. at the high school ...

Science Hill’s Symantha Fugate will sign Wednesday to play basketball with King University. The ceremony is set for 3 p.m. in the Science Hill gym. ...

David Crockett is sending a pair of cross country athletes to the college level this week. Taylor Roy signed Monday with UT-Martin while Grayson Fugate will sign with Milligan College on Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the high school. ...

Daniel Boone will send the following athletes to the college level: Bayleigh Carmichel (Trevecca University, girls basketball), Grayson Hill (Milligan, cross country), Matt Huff (Milligan, cross country), Erin Bruce (Tusculum, cross country), Marley McCoy (Tusculum, cross country), and Nick Brock (Milligan, golf). They will sign Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ...

University High golfer Mattie Janutolo will make it official with Milligan soon. She will sign Nov. 29 at 3:15 p.m. at the high school.

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