Science Hill and Jefferson County are tied for first place in Region 1-6A, but there is a stark difference in the type of schedule these teams have played.
The Hilltoppers, who have faced three of the best teams in the state (Maryville, Powell and Elizabethton) have an opponents’ record of 32-25. Jefferson County, which has played only two teams with an above-.500 mark, has an opponents’ record of 16-35.
Now it’s time to figure out if any of that matters. These teams will meet Friday at Tipton Stadium with a giant step toward the region title at stake. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Science Hill (5-3 overall) brings a league mark of 3-0 in the contest. Jeff County (5-2) is also 3-0 in the region.
“They are big up front and they have a couple of good running backs,” Science Hill coach Stacy Carter said. “Their quarterback is a good player and they’ve got a couple of good receivers. I think they’ve moved the ball pretty good on just about everybody they’ve played.”
WHAT JEFFERSON COUNTY BRINGS
Sophomore quarterback Izaiah Hall has thrown for 1,234 yards and 15 touchdowns with only two interceptions.
“He’s definitely a good quarterback,” Carter said. “He can run it, too.”
His top receiver is Kade Parker, who has totaled 529 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. Omarian Mills (750 yards, 8 scores) leads the ground attack.
But Carter has confidence in his defense.
“I think it will be hard for people to move the ball on us,” Carter said.
WHEN SCIENCE HILL HAS THE BALL
Jefferson County’s defense will look a lot like Science Hill’s 3-4 attack, Carter said.
“And they are big up front,” he said. “They have a 330-pound nose man.”
The Hilltoppers have been successful through the air with Jaxon Diamond racking up 1,761 yards and 14 touchdowns, but he also has 11 interceptions. The ground game stood out in the first five contests, but has been slowed recently. Baylor Brock leads with 844 yards rushing.
“I think we could come out throwing and be successful, but just for down the road we’ve got to work on the running game,” Carter said. “We have to get better at it. We need to be more balanced than we are now.”
On the season, Science Hill has totaled 1,849 yards through the air with 1,047 on the ground. That’s a 60-40 pass-run mix in terms of yards. In terms of play calls, Science Hill has a 52-48 run-pass mix with 242 rushes and 219 passes.
“We have to block better up front,” Carter said. “And we have to get more consistent offensively.”
Science Hill gave the ball away five times without gaining one in Saturday’s 17-14 win over Daniel Boone, a ratio that rarely results in victory.
For the season, the Hilltoppers have 18 turnovers while coming away with 13, including just two fumble recoveries.
“Some of them Saturday were fluky, but it doesn’t matter if they are fluky or not,” Carter said. “You can’t have them.”