Crockett, Cherokee trying to stay ahead of 1-5A pack

Douglas Fritz • Sep 20, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Jumping back into league play, David Crockett and Cherokee will try to maintain their status at the top of Region 1-5A.

Both will be at home with the Pioneers battling Cocke County, and Cherokee playing Volunteer. The games are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Friday.

COCKE COUNTY (0-0, 1-3) at DAVID CROCKETT (1-0, 3-0)

The Pioneers will be in a heavy favorite role for just the second time this season, but head coach Hayden Chandley said his team is ready.

“Our kids have been tuned in and we’ve had a good week of preparation,” he said. “We are going to approach this game like any other game and focus on being the best team in the stadium on Friday night.”

While Crockett boasts record-setting quarterback Cade Larkins and the impressive mix of skill-position threats at his disposal — such as running back Ronquille Joyner and receivers Donta Hackler and Mason Britton — the Fighting Cocks counter with quarterback Tyler Venerable. He had three touchdown passes in the loss to South Greene two weeks ago, and another one last week against Gatlinburg-Pittman — a game where Cocke County turned the ball over six times in a 59-7 loss.

“They have a balanced attack with the Venerable kid leading the way,” said Chandley. “He hits open receivers, but his best play-making ability is his scrambling. We need to put pressure on him in the pocket, but contain him when he starts to run.”

Chandley said the Fighting Cocks blitz often on defense.

“When they do, hopefully we can get the ball out of our hands quick and take advantage of it,” he said.

VOLUNTEER (0-1, 2-2) at CHEROKEE (1-0, 4-0)

When it comes to Cherokee taking on Volunteer in football, people outside of Hawkins County may not understand how passionate these teams are to win this game.

“Not being a part of it my whole life, I didn’t really know how intense it was until I got here,” said Cherokee head coach Cody Baugh. “I was blown away by the intensity and the atmosphere. These schools do not like each other. It’s definitely a county battle for sure. But it’s fun in a lot of ways.”

The Chiefs are 4-0 overall coming in the Region 1-5A showdown while the Falcons are 2-2. Cherokee (1-0 in league play) has won nine straight games in the rivalry with Volunteer (0-1 in the region) last winning in 2009.

Falcons’ head coach Justin Pressley said Cherokee’s good start to the season is a motivation for his team.

“We are 2-2 with losses to teams with a combined record of 7-0, so we know we are a good football team,” said Pressley. “We expect to win games like this. I believe our guys will be locked in and ready to win.”

Baugh said the Chiefs’ defense will be challenged.

“Coach Pressley came in and definitely brought a faster-pace style,” said Baugh. “Peyton Derrick, Eli Dorton, Cameron Johnson, all three can hurt you and make plays happen.”

Pressley said his team knows plenty about Chiefs’ star quarterback Collin Trent.

“Cherokee does a good job of giving No. 8 the freedom to make plays,” said Pressley. “He is the heart of the team. They love to throw the football and give him opportunities to make the offense move.”

The Chiefs also have a weapon in kicker Peter Egbert, who is a touchback machine on kickoffs.

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