Dominic Hopper.jpg

David Crockett’s Dominic Hopper (50) makes a tackle during last week’s 40-0 win over Sullivan Central.

It’s the time of year where title talk dominates the football conversation in Region 1-5A, and David Crockett is in the thick of things once again.

For the third straight season, Crockett meets Tennessee High with first-place in the league at stake. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at The Stone Castle.

Crockett (5-2 overall) is 2-0 in region play while the Vikings (5-2) have won all four of their region contests.

In other Region 1-5A games, Daniel Boone plays host to Cocke County while Volunteer hits the road to play Morristown East.

Highlighting the smaller-school slate, unbeaten teams Hampton and South Greene clash in Greeneville with the Region 1-2A championship on the line.

Crockett defeated Tennessee High twice in 2018, winning 24-21 in the regular season and 32-0 in the second round of the playoffs. Last year, the Vikings won 28-21 in the lone meeting.

Pioneers’ head coach Hayden Chandley said the Vikings like to run, and run often.

“They have a bevy of backs they throw at you,” Chandley said. “They like to put different combinations of guys back there and keep fresh legs running at you. When facing a passing situation, (quarterback Steven) Johnson does a good job of finding the open guy. We need to be able to win the line of scrimmage.”

When Crockett has the ball, it will rely on the running of Prince Kollie, who has gained 844 yards and scored 12 touchdowns this season.

The Pioneers will have to be wary of Vikings’ defensive presence Jaden Keller, one of the state’s top safety prospects.

“He’s a unique talent,” Chandley said. “To be a legit 6-foot-4 and to run like he can is truly special. Guys like him aren’t grown in East Tennessee every year. We will need to know where he is at all times and make sure to get a hat, or two, on him on most plays.”

Playing at Tennessee High adds to the intrigue of this game, Chandley said.

“This game has really meant a lot over the last two years,” he said. “The Stone Castle is a special place to play. We need to be physical. We’ve challenged our guys that the most physical team will win Friday night.”

COCKE COUNTY (1-2, 2-5) at DANIEL BOONE (2-1, 3-3)

After wading through the tough early season schedule, the Trailblazers seem to have found their swagger.

This is a take-care-of-business opportunity for Boone, which scored 35 and 37 points in its last two games, respectively. The Trailblazers have won nine straight against Cocke County, which last beat Boone in the 1997 playoffs.

VOLUNTEER (1-3, 2-5) at MORRISTOWN EAST (1-2, 3-3)

The schedule got tough for the Falcons, but they remained competitive during a three-game losing streak.

East presents a tough challenge for Volunteer’s defense. Hurricanes’ all-time leading passer, quarterback Cole Henson, had six touchdown passes in last week’s 54-23 win over Sevier County.

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MORRISTOWN WEST (1-2, 3-4) at DOBYNS-BENNETT (4-0, 7-0)

Hunter Delaney has been effective running the ball for the Trojans, but the Indians’ tough defense tends to eat running backs for lunch.

On the other side of the football, D-B’s dominant mix of running and passing should pose plenty of problems for the Trojans.

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HAMPTON (2-0, 6-0) at SOUTH GREENE (2-0, 8-0)

In a similar showdown meeting last season, the Bulldogs wore the Rebels out.

But this time the game is in Greeneville.

“They are a heck of a team down there,” Hampton head coach Michael Lunsford said. “There are stands on just one side of the field and they put the visiting team in front of their stands.”

Lunsford said the Rebels have a different look this year.

“They lost their line and they are a lot smaller,” he said. “But they are quicker and they may be better blockers.”

Just like Hampton quarterback Conor Jones, Rebels’ signal caller Luke Myers has been putting up big numbers all season.

“He’s probably their best player on the field,” Lunsford said. “He’s athletic and versatile. If he doesn’t have something, he will scramble and buy time and throw it down the field, or he will run it.”

Running backs Corey Houser and Mark Crum are also threats along with receiver Preston Bailey, Lunsford said.

The game will be broadcast by WCYB-TV, but Lunsford said his players won’t be nervous because of it.

“We’ve been doing live broadcasts on Facebook for all of our home games,” Lunsford said. “The kids are used to seeing cameras around.”

SULLIVAN NORTH (0-2, 0-5) at HAPPY VALLEY (1-1, 4-2)

It has been a tough year for the Raiders, who have scored only 22 points in five games as they have dealt with tough times because of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Warriors come in hot with three straight wins, including last week’s impressive 30-16 decision over Johnson County. Matthew Bahn has been one of the area’s best running backs this season as he closes in on 1,000 yards rushing, needing only 77 more.

{span style=”text-decoration: underline;”}Region 1-3A{/span}

UNICOI COUNTY (1-1, 3-3) at WEST GREENE (1-2, 2-5)

Coming off 21 days of rest, the Blue Devils should be ready to roar.

Unicoi hasn’t played since a Sept. 25 win over Sullivan East, but has won three of its last four games. The Blue Devils are 13-2 all-time against the Buffaloes.

{span style=”text-decoration: underline;”}Region 1-1A{/span}

CLOUDLAND (2-0, 4-3) at JELLICO (1-1, 3-4)

The Highlanders can wrap up the region title with a win.

Cloudland is 10-1 all-time against the Blue Devils.

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