Intensity picks up as high school teams head down the home stretch
Area football teams look to make playoff berths or solidify their seeding
Area high school football teams are preparing for the home stretch of the 2015 season.
Thus far, fans have seen Farragut, Christian Academy of Knoxville, Maryville, Central and Alcoa get off to fast starts while Webb School of Knoxville, Knoxville Catholic and Grace Christian Academy stumbled a bit early.
Fulton and Maryville finally collided on the gridiron with the Rebels leaving no doubt that they have the top program in the Knoxville Area. The Falcons, however, are also still champions. They battled hard only to be overpowered by Maryville’s depth in the end. Fulton (Class 4A) and the Rebels (Class 6A) have both won multiple State Championships and both will likely be around for long postseason runs again in 2015.
The first half of the season saw Central, CAK and Farragut all win their first four games (this piece was written prior to the midway point of the season for most teams in Tennessee). Maryville did the same (but haven’t we all come to expect that by now with George Quarles and his mojo). The Rebels have beaten powerhouses and perennial State Championship contenders in the Falcons and the Tornadoes.
With all that now a part of history, let’s look at what the campaign’s second half has to offer fans.
The second half of the season begins during the first week of October and as the weather cools, the gridiron intensity heats up on Thursday, Oct. 1, when Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett invades Blount County to take on Maryville. The Indians were 3-1 after four games, losing only to Oak Ridge (which lost the following week to Region 3-5A rival Farragut). Dobyns-Bennett may provide the Rebels with their stiffest test since Alcoa came back from a 17-0 deficit and forced Maryville to hold on for a 20-14 win.
Three potential barnburners are on the schedule for Oct. 2 as Fulton invades Carter in a key Region 2-4A tilt. The Hornets gave the Falcons a scare last season.
Other key games include Gibbs at Halls and Loudon at CAK. The Eagles and Red Devils have had different fortunes this year. The Eagles’ only loss in the first month of the season came at Bill Clabo Field in Farragut. The Red Devils started 1-3 and got their lone win in that stretch when they pounded Union County in Maynardville.
The Warriors and Redskins have had some epic battles in some classic games, many of them in the playoffs. CAK will likely win since the game is on the turf at Warrior Stadium, but you just never know what might happen when these two teams renew acquaintances.
The next week, CAK will be in the Thursday night prime time spotlight when it plays host to the Clinton Dragons. The contest features two of the area’s elite quarterbacks in the Warriors’ Cole Smith and Clinton’s Tyler Thackerson and could be a shootout. CAK’s defense, however, has pretty much silenced the likes of Grace Christian, Livingston Academy, Webb and Scott.
On Friday, Halls and Central tangle in the Battle of Black Oak Ridge. The 2015 installment of this will be at Dan Y. Boring Stadium in Fountain City. The host Bobcats have dominated the series recently.
Powell and Karns will knock heads in another rivalry game. Trouble is; the Beavers and Panthers have done nothing but struggle of late. Former Powell head coach Tobi Kilgore (who went 5-5 with the Panthers in 2013) is now at Karns where he is attempting to rebuild a program from scratch. The Beavers have won a game this year while the Panthers haven’t as of Week 4.
West and Farragut have a bit of history in a long-going series. This matchup will likely pack plenty of fireworks as both teams have potent offenses. The Admirals defense has been stiff this season, however. The Rebels may be hard-pressed to score. Farragut held Powell to six points and Bearden to nine. The Admirals kept Gibbs High’s triple-option attack in check and shut out Oak Ridge (which features Tee Higgins, a junior who is among the area’s top deep threats and has already verbally committed to Tennessee) after halftime.
BGA plays Webb in a battle of Division II powers and King’s Academy host Concord Christian in a battle of Lions. Knox County’s Lions are playing their first-ever season of varsity football.
Three games highlight the action of Oct. 16. Powell plays at Halls in the battle for Emory Road bragging rights. Farragut hosts Lenoir City in a series, which had some recent twists and turns.
Carter, meanwhile, travels to Catholic for a crucial Region 2-4A tilt that will likely have huge playoff implications.
Week 10 opens on Oct. 23 and rivalries are again the order of the day as Gibbs hosts Carter; Powell entertains Central and Karns invades Halls.
The big game of the week has Fulton heading to Sutherland Avenue and Bill Wilson Field to tangle with West High in a battle that features a pair of defending State Champions. The Rebels won the Class 5A title in 2014.
Week 11 is also a time for rivals to collide and perhaps, region titles to be won.
Action gets underway on Thursday, Oct. 29 when CAK heads to Alcoa to play, with what will likely be the Region 2-3A Championship Games. These two schools are no strangers, to deep playoff runs, State Champions or each other. Heading in to last season the Warriors or Tornadoes had combined to win 12 consecutive Class 3A State Titles. Christ Presbyterian Academy snapped that streak by upsetting Alcoa 7-0 in Cookeville in 2014.
Central and Fulton will also play in Week 11. This will be a Region 2-4A game and will likely impact playoff seeding.
The two longtime Broadway rivals renewed acquaintances a few years back. The Falcons are undefeated against the Bobcats since the rivalry resumed.
Webb and King’s Academy will meet in Seymour in a game that will likely carry title implications.