If theres a team remaining that can prevent Maryvilles top-ranked Rebels from completing their fifth consecutive unbeaten regular season, its their namesakes from Knoxville.
West High Schools Rebels stepped boldly into Shields Stadium a year ago and played Maryville to within 14-12 through two quarters. The two-time defending Class 4A champions roused themselves with a statement march to open the third, eventually routing their guests, 42-12, behind a punishing ground game.
Maryville coach George Quarles claimed his 100th victory in
eight seasons with last weeks 41-17 dismantling of
Central. The road to 200 begins Friday night in Knoxville, with the
reigning state coach of the year knowing West would like
nothing better than to postpone march.
William Blounts Governors will play host to Oak Ridge in an attempt to rejoin the leaders atop Region 2-5A, with Heritage welcoming Class 5A second-ranked Ooltewah to town for a league battle. Alcoas second-ranked Tornadoes will be looking to clinch a playoff berth when Rockwoods Tigers visit Goddard Field in a Region 2-2A matchup.
All kickoffs are 7:30 p.m.
West is a dangerous team, Quarles said.
"Last year, they schemed us really well," he said. "They had a really good plan to get 3 or 4 (at a time) and keep the ball away from our offense."
Former Rebel rushing star Ryan Tallent cracked open the West defense
with a succession of bursts to open the second half a year ago. With
senior Adrian "Tank" Baker now at full power after a thigh injury
slowed his progress early, this years
Rebels are much the same team.
Baker and fellow senior Ryan Singleton constitute a powerful running game rivaling any statewide. Junior quarterback Brent Burnette is shredding opposing secondaries, throwing for 855 yards and eight scores on 44-of-59 passing. Co-starter Derek Hunt is 27-of-34 for 315 yards and three scores.
With Tennessee commitment Tyler Maples and junior Stephen Shiver both above 300 yards receiving, tight end and Tennessee commitment Aaron Douglas adding another 160, Maryville possesses an offense that can score quickly. So, too, can West, Quarles said.
"Theyve got some big people up front, and theyre hungry," he said. "They want some of the Rebels."
West quarterback Jake Ryan has thrown for better than 1,000 yards on
the season. In flyers Ken Easterley, Rueben Glass, Robert Spencer and
Yashan Campbell, Ryan has four pass catchers with better than 100 yards
receiving. Easterly and Glass
have numbers rivaling their Maryville counterparts.
Senior T.J. Wilson has punished West opponents for better than 600 yards rushing through six games.
"We need to get off to a good start," Quarles said. "The longer they can stay in there, the more confident they get. If we can get off to a good start, we may get them to doubt themselves a little bit."
Oak Ridge at William Blount
The race for Region 2-5As four playoff spots is beginning to tighten. The Governors have played front-runners Ooltewah and Farragut down to the closing seconds before falling. Knocking off the Wildcats could go a long way to easing the disappointment that came with both defeats.
Oak Ridge has ridden the arm of quarterback Conner Gulmire in
compiling a 3-0 region mark. The 6-foot-1 senior is fast closing on
1,000 yards passing, with Damarcus Rogers, Darryl Miller and Tre Smith
his primary targets.
Paul Bingham carries much of the load for the Wildcats on ground.
Grounding any Gulmire attempts at an air show is paramount for the Governors. Theyve got the offense for just such a thing. With a big night, senior Darran Walker could surpass 1,000 yards rushing. Teamed with backs Mohamed Baskin and Darrin Garner and quarterback Tyler Burstrom, Walker has made William Blounts wing-T a time-consuming, yardage-hungry machine at times.
Rockwood at Alcoa
The Tigers have some legitimate weapons at their disposal. Quarterback Zach Breazeale has thrown for better than 600 yards. Running back Bryant Allen has run for almost as many yards.
It remains to be seen how Breazeale and the rest fare in the path of a gathering storm.
Following an uplifting win over private school powerhouse McCallie two weeks ago, the Tornadoes ripped Region 2-2A cellar dweller Wartburg, 55-0, last week. Alcoa erupted for 35 of those points in the opening quarter.
Quarterback Randall Cobb, running back Chris Shiverdecker and receivers Bryan Sommer and Kyrus Lanxter, a West Virginia commitment, have the Tornadoes flying these days. The Tigers could be in way over their heads if this, in any way, becomes a shootout.
Ooltewah at Heritage
The schedule eases for the Mountaineers next week. This week, its the second-ranked Owls, who bring an explosive offense to Blount County.
Running back Brian Marshall, a state-ranked sprinter before a knee injury slowed him a year ago, is a legitimate burner. He sets the tempo for an Ooltewah team that has showed the ability to keep opponents honest with the pass as well. Jeremy Woods is a tall, confident, strong-armed passer. For a Mountaineer team missing a key component this week, its not the best scenario.
With leading rusher Cody Lindsey already lost for the season, Heritage will entertain the Owls with its next-best rusher, fullback Matt Rupert, also out, injured in last weeks loss at Soddy-Daisy.
The Mountaineers get linebacker Chad Wood back from injury this
week, a return that could aid greatly the chances of slowing the
Ooltewah offense. How well quarterback Dylan Morgan and the Heritage
offense can keep the ball away from
Ooltewah will say much.