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Hilltoppers seek share of region crown

Douglas Fritz • Nov 1, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Things fell into place nicely for Science Hill last week, but the Hilltoppers have to finish the deal.

They will play host to Knox Bearden on Friday night with a chance to earn the No. 1 playoff seed in Region 1-6A. Kickoff is set for 7:30 at Tipton Stadium.

Science Hill can tie Dobyns-Bennett for the region title with a win over the Bulldogs. The door was opened when Knox Farragut was upset by Hardin Valley, giving the Hilltoppers a clear path to the No. 1 seed after their 23-17 win over D-B.

But with an overall record of 4-5, Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter said one thing he hasn’t had to worry about is his kids getting overconfident after knocking off the previously undefeated Indians.

“Our kids will definitely not be overconfident,” said Carter, whose team is 4-1 in league play. “We definitely know if we don’t come to play and make mental mistakes, we can get beaten by anybody. The nice thing is this is a huge game for playoff implications. You’re No. 1 if you win. If you lose, you drop all the way to No. 4 and you go to Maryville. There’s a lot to play for — plus home-field advantage, which is a motivation for the community to have everything at home.”

The Hilltoppers seek their first region title since 2014.

WHAT BEARDEN BRINGS

Quarterback Collin Ironside has thrown for 1,042 yards and 10 touchdowns in seven games. He has also rushed for 184 yards and three scores.

His top receiving threat is Hayden Candela, who has 56 catches for 710 yards and eight scores.

“Every time we face them, they have athletes,” said Carter. “No. 1 (Candela) is as good of a receiver as there is out there. He’s a big, fast, strong kid.”

Makai Williams is the leading rusher with 618 yards and five touchdowns.

Carter said the Bulldogs are a true 50-50 run-pass team.

“You have to worry about the quarterback and No. 1, but they have kids who can run,” said Carter. “They always have kids who can run.”

BEARDEN’S DEFENSE

Carter said Bearden likes to bring it.

“They are very aggressive on defense,” he said. “The things they do are pretty complicated sometimes.”

Linebacker Christian Spining leads the Bulldogs’ defense. He has averaged 17 tackles over the last five games.

WHAT SCIENCE HILL NEEDS

Running back Chris Thomas was stuffed by Dobyns-Bennett’s defense last week. He entered the game averaging 129 yards of total offense, but managed only 47 against the Indians.

“We need to run the football better,” said Carter.

Thomas has 757 yards rushing and 320 receiving on the season to go along with nine total touchdowns.

Quarterback Connor Batchelder has thrown for 1,993 yards and 22 touchdowns on the season. His top receiving threats are Cole Torbett, Solomon Dunn, Thomas and Marquis Griffin.

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