Game of the week: Quicker on the draw

Maryville hoping for fast start against West

By Stefan Cooper
Sports Editor
Blount Today

If there’s a team remaining that can prevent Maryville’s top-ranked Rebels from completing their fifth consecutive unbeaten regular season, it’s their namesakes from Knoxville.

West High School’s 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 week’s 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 Blount’s 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. Alcoa’s second-ranked Tornadoes will be looking to clinch a playoff berth when Rockwood’s 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 year’s
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.

"They’ve got some big people up front, and they’re 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 2-5A’s 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. They’ve 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 Blount’s 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, it’s 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, it’s 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 week’s 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.

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