Hampton has its shot.
The Bulldogs are 48 minutes away from history.
Seeking its first-ever berth in the state championship game, Hampton hosts tradition-rich Trousdale County in a TSSAA Class 2A semifinal playoff game.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday.
Hampton is 9-2 while Trousdale is 11-1. The Yellow Jackets have won nine state championships and have a sparkling 91-31 playoff record.
Bulldogs coach Michael Lunsford said he believes Hampton has its best semifinal matchup in its fifth try at this stage. Hampton lost to Trousdale County (35-0 in 2005), Friend- ship Christian (24-7 in 2006), South Pittsburg (42-28 in 2007) and Marion County (55-17 in 2015).
Lunsford was a player for the Bulldogs in three of those games, from 2005-07.
“I feel like this is our best chance,” Lunsford said. “As long as we are quick enough to block them. The key for us is being able to move the ball. And we have to be solid tacklers on defense. But I do feel like it is a good matchup for us.
“Everybody’s goal is to have practice on Thanksgiving. We’re tickled to be in this situation.”
SOMETHING IN COMMON
Both teams have a father-son coaching tree. Michael Lunsford’s dad, Mike, was an ultra-successful coach at Cloudland and Hampton, guiding the Highlanders to the 2001 Class 1A state championship game.
The Yellow Jackets are coached by Blake Satterfield, who is in his third season. He’s the son of Clint, who racked up 238 wins from 1984-2007 at Trousdale — winning five state championships. The roots also run back to Clint’s dad, Jim. He won 185 games from 1962-1983, including one state title.
In-between Blake and Clint was Kevin Creasy, who won three state titles before moving on to Murfreesboro Oakland in 2015. At Oakland, Creasy has two more state titles and has his team in the Class 6A semifinals again this year.
WHAT TROUSDALE BRINGS
The main man is running back Bryson Claiborne. The senior ran for 188 yards and three touchdowns in the 23-0 quarterfinal win over Watertown. He had scoring runs of 34, 53 and 69 yards.
For the season, Claiborne has rushed for more than 1,000 yards with 16 touchdowns.
“We can’t let them get outside of us,” Lunsford said.
Trousdale didn’t attempt a pass against Watertown, totaling 308 yards rushing on 43 attempts.
The Yellow Jackets run a wing-T type of offense. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they’ve seen similar things this season.
“Oneida ran a little wing-T,” Lunsford said. “Cumberland Gap runs a form of it, and Rockwood ran some things out of it. We’ve had to prepare for it throughout the season.
“It’s a lot about getting adjusted and getting in the right place and being disciplined. It’s assignment football and not getting out of position.”
Lunsford said his team has to be aware of the whole package, including Cole Gregory.
“We can’t fall asleep on the fullback through the middle, and not pay attention to him,” Lunsford said. “And we have to tackle well.”
Trousdale will likely use two quarterbacks, leaning mainly on Keenan Burnley with Mason Maddox available as more of a thrower.
“I think they’ve only thrown it seven times through the playoffs,” Lunsford said.
Defensive standouts include secondary leader Kane Burnley along with linemen Brayden Sadler and Carsey West.
“(Trousdale) is really quick and really sound,” Lunsford said. “They’re not going to be out of position and they won’t beat themselves. They’re not all that big, but they are quick and fast and hard to get on and hard to block. We have to get off the ball, get a hold of them and drive them.”
The Bulldogs have spread the wealth this season with quarterback Conor Jones anchoring the show.
In each of Hampton’s playoff games, Jones has scored three touchdowns. Eight of his nine scores have been rushing, and he also caught a touchdown on a gadget play.
Levi Lunsford had 128 yards rushing in the win over Oneida while Morgan Lyons added 89. McKinley Kuhn has been the focal point for the offensive line.
Defensively, Jones leads with 105 tackles while Ryan Crumley has 103 and a team-high 11 for loss. Jones leads with five interceptions.