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Hilltoppers meet Jeff County in battle for first place

Douglas Fritz • Sep 20, 2019 at 12:30 PM

One thing Science Hill can still feel good about is its start in Region 1-6A football.

The Hilltoppers, who are 1-0 in league play, will try to stay in first place Friday night when they play host to Jefferson County. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 at Tipton Stadium.

In another region battle, Dobyns-Bennett plays host to Hardin Valley.

Science Hill (1-3 overall) whipped Hardin Valley in its region opener while Jefferson County topped Morristown West. The Patriots are 3-1 overall after a blowout loss to Knox West last week.

Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter said his team’s rough start — which included blowing a big first-half lead last Friday against Greeneville — hasn’t diminished the season outlook because region play is still intact.

“I think the good part is we are young,” Carter said. “We have some good seniors, very few juniors, and a whole lot of young kids.

“I do think we have to learn to close the deal. When you get up 21-0, you should be able to win that football game. That’s not just the players, that’s all of us.”

Carter said his players were mad coming into practice Monday, but the attitudes have been good.

“Our season is definitely not over,” he said.

One thing that could lift or lower Science Hill’s chances against Jeff County is the status of running back Chris Thomas. He suffered a shoulder injury against Greeneville and missed almost all of the second half.

Carter said the recovery reports are positive for Thomas, but added, “We don’t know. It will be a game-time thing.”

If Thomas can’t go, Malik Bowman will start at running back. Cade Fleeman and Joshua Santiago would also be in the mix.

Jefferson County is led by dual-threat quarterback Tanner Atkins. He passed for over 100 yards and rushed for just under 100 yards in each of the Patriots’ first three games. He also totaled eight touchdowns.

“He is a good player,” said Carter. “He scrambles all the time. He has a good arm.”

The Patriots run out of a spread formation and throw the ball more than they run it. Josh Miller and Gage Bolin are the top threats at running back, and Carter said the Patriots boast a very big offensive line.

Hardin Valley (0-1, 1-3) at Dobyns-Bennett (1-0, 3-0)

Tyler Tesnear and Phillip Armitage have combined for 520 rushing yards and three touchdowns for the Indians, who are coming off a bye week.

Quarterback Zane Whitson has thrown for 396 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Dobyns-Bennett has won five straight games dating back to last season.

The Hawks were the last team to beat the Indians, rallying from a 17-0 deficit to score 35 unanswered points. Hardin Valley is led by speedy running back Kelton Gunn, who had a rushing, receiving and passing touchdown in last year’s contest.

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