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Hilltoppers set to face college-talent loaded Catholic

Douglas Fritz • Sep 27, 2019 at 12:30 PM

Science Hill steps into a different situation Friday when it travels to take on Knoxville Catholic.

The private school is loaded with Division I football talent, has family connections to a pair of college programs, will be on national television on Oct. 3, and yet has struggled to a 2-2 start through four games.

In a non-region contest set for kickoff at 7:30 p.m., the Hilltoppers (2-3) will visit the Fighting Irish (2-2).

“I think the challenge for your team in playing a school like that is we have a lot of kids who want to play in college,” said Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter. “This is a chance for them to get film, going up against these people. This is your opportunity to see where you are.

“We will just go down there and give ourselves a chance to compete, and see where it goes from there. We’ve played some really good football teams, but this is a private school and they’ve brought people in from everywhere.”

THE TALENT

Catholic will send three of state’s top 10 college recruits — according to 247Sports Composite — to the field:

— No. 4 Tyler Baron (6-foot-5, 252-pound defensive end; committed to Tennessee)

— No. 7 Bryn Tucker (6-5, 305-pound guard; leaning toward Clemson)

— No. 9 Cooper Mays (6-3, 275-pound center; committed to Tennessee).

The Irish also boasts No. 46 Chancellor Bright (receiver, Marshall commitment), No. 105 Cody Duncan (linebacker, uncommitted), and No. 108 Jack Jancek (quarterback, uncommitted).

Jancek is the son of Colorado State defensive coordinator John Jancek, who had that same position with the University of Tennessee from 2013-15.

It’s interesting to note that Jancek’s current backup is the son of Tee Martin, who is the Volunteers’ assistant head coach. Kaden Martin is considered a Power Five-level quarterback, and has drawn interest from Alabama, Duke and Kentucky even though he is just a sophomore. Also, with Catholic on a two-game losing streak, there has been talk of Martin drawing the starting assignment against the Hilltoppers.

NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

Back in August, it was announced the Fighting Irish would play Brentwood Academy in a game televised nationally by ESPN.

That game is set for Thursday, but it likely lost some luster when Catholic was defeated 33-28 by Ensworth. The Irish followed that loss by absorbing 56-19 beat-down at the hands of Chattanooga McCallie — which also beat Brentwood Academy earlier this year.

AGAINST SCIENCE HILL

Catholic will face a Science Hill team that may not be at full strength. Leading rusher and scorer Chris Thomas missed last week with a shoulder injury and probably won’t play, Carter said.

Thomas’ absence means the Hilltoppers will likely go pass heavy again this week. In a 42-8 win over Jefferson County, quarterback Connor Batchelder connected on 24 of 33 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns.

“You try to be balanced, but I think you have to lean on it,” said Carter. “I hope this helps us get better.”

Batchelder has been sensational at times this season and is right on the heels of David Crockett standout Cade Larkins with 1,141 yards passing and 15 touchdowns. Larkins has totaled 19 more yards passing and one more touchdown, but has played one less game.

THE PACE

Catholic doesn’t like to waste time in the huddle.

“They are a fast-paced offense, as fast as you can go,” said Carter. “They run no huddle, jet sweeps, and they have good backs.”

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