Class 3A Quarterfinals
Loudon (10-2) at Alcoa (12-0) Kickoff 7 p.m. at Goddard Field
The Redskins didn’t have a problem going on the road and knocking off an unbeaten opponent last week, dropping Polk County from postseason play. If that fact doesn’t register, consider Loudon was one of the few teams to push Alcoa this season.
The top-ranked Tornadoes were coming off a big win over arch-rival Maryville the week before, the win over the Rebels coming after Alcoa had roughed up defending Kentucky state champion Bell County in the opener.
The Redskins made the Tornadoes work for a 21-0 victory, a physical contest that would see Alcoa lead 7-0 at the half.
The Tornadoes did get going, though.
Jaron Toney, Taharin Tyson and Vanderbilt Hambrick each finished the game averaging better than 10 yards per carry. Hambrick and Tyson averaged 15 yards a pop! With its offensive line gathering steam in the second half, Alcoa would finish the night with 271 yards rushing, quarterback Austin Tallant completing only one pass for 9 yards.
A lot has happened since then, namely Toney’s relentless assault on the state record for rushing touchdowns in a season. The quick Tornado back enters Friday with his total at 38, five back of Ralph King’s state-best mark of 43. Tallant has come into his own in the passing the game since the season’s third game. Tight end Tyler Robinson and receivers Steven Isom and Daniel Rockymore have become genuine game-breakers.
It’s the running game, though, that’s brought the Tornadoes to this point, and it’s unlikely they’ll abandon it now. With the line Toney is running behind, why would they?
Class 6A quarterfinals
Farragut (10-2) at Maryville (11-1) Kickoff 7 p.m. at Shields Stadium
Philip Juhlin threw for a touchdown, ran for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass when last these two met. The Maryville quarterback rallied the Rebels from a 17-point, first half deficit, his 3-yard touchdown catch from running back Jacob West with five minutes remaining lifting top-ranked Maryville to a thrilling, 35-32 win to all but clinch the District 4AAA crown.
As brilliant as Juhlin proved that evening, something a bit more basic perhaps gave the Rebels the edge. Farragut is bigger up front when it comes to running the ball. The Admirals have three great backs. Yet, it was the Rebels, who ground out 193 yards on 34 carries, who finished with the better rushing totals. With Juhlin adding 210 yards through the air with his arm, it was enough to get Maryville through.
If you’re looking for an edge in this one, follow Rebel running back/linebacker Buddy Jones. He isn’t likely to rush for 1,000 yards this season, but he plays so big when the Rebels really need him. Maryville doesn’t need a 150-yard night from its super senior to win, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get it.
Farragut put 154 yards rushing in the previous meeting. The Admirals, though, also have one of the state’s best quarterbacks. Senior Reese Browning putting the ball in the air 31 times during the district clash. There aren’t many snaps left to run the ball after that. It’s in the defensive secondary where the Rebels are strongest as a group. They picked off Browning twice the last time, both interceptions leading to Maryville scores. In the final three minutes, the Rebels gave the ball to Jones, who toughed out a pair of key first downs to help exhaust the remaining time.