High school football fans can choose Jonesborough to watch the state’s No. 4-ranked Class 5A team, David Crockett, in a first-place showdown against Tennessee High.
Or they can pick Class 4A, where No. 1-ranked Greeneville travels to meet No. 2 Elizabethton.
Both games hold the promise of memorable events, and each should significantly shape the postseason structure through the quarterfinal round.
The pick here is Greeneville versus Elizabethton. It’s the top two teams in the state, and a rivalry that has produced its share of big-time matchups in the regular season and the playoffs.
But regardless of which game a fan chooses, here’s a little advice: arrive early. Both places are going to be packed.
Dating back to the start of the 2015 season, Greeneville has lost just two games against Class 4A competition. One of them came against a team that shouldn’t have been in that classification (private-school Knoxville Catholic in the 2015 state quarterfinals) and the other was against Knox Central on a last-second Hail Mary in the second round of the playoffs in 2016. Since the loss to Central, Greeneville is 36-1 with the setback coming in this year’s season opener. It was a 19-17 decision against undefeated Class 5A team Knox Powell.
CADE LARKINS UPDATE
In Friday’s 56-20 win over Cherokee, Larkins threw for 284 yards and moved his career total to 9,872. He remained in the No. 6 spot on the state’s all-time list, but moved within 341 yards of the top five.
Larkins also climbed to No. 42 on the all-time national list.
With his five touchdown passes in Friday’s game — the fourth time this season Larkins has hit that total — he moved his career total to 97 and took over the No. 7 spot on Tennessee’s all-time list.
Science Hill will tee it up Tuesday morning and begin defense of its state championship as this year’s tournament gets under way at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester.
It is a two-day 36-hole event, weather permitting. Last year’s tournament was shortened to one day because of rain.
The Hilltoppers’ lineup consists of seniors Jackson Skeen, Tarun Hoskere, Ross Boehling, Carter Counts and Jacob Oakley along with junior Pujah Shah.
Skeen returns as the defending co-champion along with Farragut’s Lance Simpson.
Competing in the tournament as individuals are Sullivan Central’s Seth Robinette, Volunteer’s Jon Wes Lovelace, and Tennessee High’s Jack Tickle.
Tennessee High will participate as a team in the girls event. Dobyns-Bennett junior Isabella van der Biest, the defending champion, is competing as an individual. Also in this year’s field is Sullivan South junior Kara Carter.
Postseason action started Monday with the semifinals set for Tuesday and championships slated for Thursday.
The District 1-AAA tournament will be played at Tipton Stadium with Science Hill the top-seeded team.
In 1-AA, top-seeded Greeneville carries a role of strong favorite. And in Class A, University High is the top seed.
HOW WE VOTED
Coverage-area teams receiving votes from the Johnson City Press/Times-News in this week’s Associated Press state football poll, along with the No. 1 selection. (Coverage area is six counties: Sullivan, Washington, Carter, Unicoi, Johnson, Hawkins):
Oakland (No. 1)
Dobyns-Bennett (No. 3)
Knox Central (No. 1)
David Crockett (No. 2)
Greeneville (No. 1)
Elizabethton (No. 2)
Alcoa (No. 1)
Peabody (No. 1)
Happy Valley (No. 7)
Hampton (No. 10)
South Pittsburg (No. 1)
THE TOP 10
Science Hill takes advantage of losses by Cherokee and Sullivan South to move back into the top five in this week’s rankings.
|1. David Crockett
|4. Tennessee High
|5. Science Hill
|7. Sullivan South
|8. Unicoi County
|9. Happy Valley
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Tennessee High at David Crockett
The Pioneers have outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 278-101. The Vikings have outscored their opponents, 263-93.
And last year’s game between these teams was 24-21. This has the look of being a dandy battle.
Greeneville at Elizabethton
In 2018, the Greene Devils beat every team they played by three touchdowns or more — except the Cyclones. It was a 35-20 decision that was within eight points in the fourth quarter.
In 2017, only one team (Anderson County, 35-31) played Greeneville a closer game than Elizabethton (24-10).
Are the Cyclones ready to move past the “came close” status?
South Greene at Hampton
The Rebels haven’t had their bye week, so they stand as one of only four teams in the state with a record of 8-0. They have outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 320-110.
This is a major challenge for the Bulldogs, who have been dominant over the last four weeks.
Happy Valley at Sullivan North
First place is still within reach for the Warriors, who have been rock tough in close games this season.
Regardless of the outcome here, the Raiders are probably stuck in the No. 4 spot in Region 1-2A. But this game could give them momentum toward the playoffs.
PICK OF THE WEEK
David Crockett 28, Tennessee High 24
It should be tight from start to finish. There should be plenty of big plays, but look for a key defensive stop to decide the outcome.
Picks record: 6-2.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Cade Larkins, David Crockett
In a 56-20 win over Cherokee, the Pioneers’ senior quarterback cut loose for 284 yards passing.
Larkins also connected for five touchdown tosses with throws of 29, 22, 14, 8 and 7 yards.
THE HOGS AWARD
Daniel Boone Trailblazers
After a season of tough opponents, the Boone Hogs flexed their muscles in the favorite role. Boone’s offensive line cleared the way for a tough ground attack, and provided pass protection that allowed for three touchdown passes in a 44-14 pounding of Volunteer.
DEFENSIVE UNIT OF THE WEEK
With rival Cloudland coming off its best offensive game of the season, Hampton’s defense gave no ground. The Bulldogs picked off three passes and limited the Highlanders’ attack in a 42-6 victory.