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Friday Night Light? Hilltoppers hoping to shine

Douglas Fritz • Sep 13, 2019 at 12:30 PM

Science Hill’s football future for the 2019 season is a mystery, but the Hilltoppers could gain some light on Friday night.

When Greeneville comes calling to Tipton Stadium at 7:30, it will boast the two-time defending Class 4A state champion tag. And it will bring the memory of last year’s 42-0 pound-down of the Hilltoppers.

Science Hill, standing at 1-2 on the season but coming off a 38-point crushing of Hardin Valley, will have a chance to prove itself in a non-region setting. Greeneville is 2-1.

“I think this game is important,” said Carter. “We need this win. We really think if we play well, we’ve got a good shot.”

Carter said last year’s game doesn’t play a role for this year.

“We don’t even talk about it,” he said. “It’s a different year, different people, and it will be a different game. Some of those kids last year for Greeneville had been starting for four years.”

While Greeneville doesn’t have the same lineup as 2017-18 — graduating 27 ultra-successful seniors — Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter said, “It is still a good Greeneville team. It’s a different quarterback and different players, and younger players for sure. But a few of their returning guys are still good, and it’s a good football team.”

One of those returning players is Ty Youngblood, a physical running back who has gained 223 yards and scored four touchdowns on the season.

Youngblood is complemented in the backfield by Mason Gudger, and the top receiving threat has been Keyontae Harrison (7 catches, 151 yards).

Blayne Ferguson has filled in nicely for injured Drew Gregg at quarterback. In two games, Ferguson has thrown for 324 yards and three scores.

Greeneville is working under first-year head coach Dan Hammonds.

“They do all the same things,” said Carter. “Everything is the same, but there are different people doing it. I can’t tell much of a difference on either side of the ball.”

For Science Hill, Chris Thomas has been a threat all season with 459 yards rushing, 634 total yards and seven total touchdowns.

Quarterback Connor Batchelder has thrown for 728 yards in three games with nine touchdowns and four picks. He was particularly good against Hardin Valley, throwing for 340 yards with his best completion percentage (18 of 27) of the season.

Batchelder’s top receiving threats are Solomon Dunn (12 catches for 238 yards, 2 TDs) and Cole Torbett (18 catches, 217 yards, 1 TD).

Carter said making progress on the ground is a key to victory for his team.

“We have to get the running game going at some point,” he said. “It’s hard to run against them. They have big guys and they are hard to move. But we have to make sure we are moving the ball.”

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