What: Class 3A semifinal
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Records: Alcoa (13-0), Elizabethton (9-4)
Radio: Blount Today Sports Radio, WLHR 97.9 FM
The players: The top-ranked Tornadoes displayed vast improvement in the defensive secondary in grounding Christian Academy of Knoxville’s high-scoring passing game last week. They might have to do it again to reach next week’s BlueCross Bowl at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.
Cyclones’ quarterback McKenley Berry needs just 6 yards passing to reach 2,000 for the season, having accounted for 13 Elizabethton touchdowns with his arm. The Cyclone junior likes to spread the ball around to receiver Eli Brady and backs Alec Whitehead and Terrence Turner. Turner, a sophomore, finished with 209 all-purpose yards - 95 rushing, 65 receiving, 45 returning kicks - in Elizabethton’s 32-28 win at Gatlinburg-Pittman in last week’s quarterfinal.
How it goes down: In running its school-record win streak to 41 games, six-time defending state champion Alcoa limited Christian Academy quarterback Quinn Epperly to 98 yards passing and no scores in a 14-3 Tornado victory last week. Epperly had burned the Tornadoes for 302 yards and five touchdowns only three weeks prior.
Sophomores Mustafa Anthony and Landon Turbyfill made names for themselves marking Warrior receivers, the Tornadoes relying solely on Mr. Football finalist Darrell Warren, Stanley Johnson, Derek Evans and Jonivan Henry up front to generate the necessary pass rush.
Ever seen a team rush for 4,000 yards in a season?
Warren, co-Mr. Football finalist Vanderbilt Hambrick, Mr. Football finalist lineman Derek Evans and fullback Taharin Tyson have helped the Tornadoes to within 51 yards of that number as the Cyclones arrive. Think about that for a second: 4,000 yards rushing.