Friday Night Preview: CAK at Alcoa

When: Thursday

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Records: Alcoa (9-0, 4-0 District 4AAA), CAK (9-0, 4-0)

Radio: Blount Today Sports Radio, WLHR 97.9 FM

Previous meeting: Both teams entered with unblemished records a year ago. Alcoa beat on the Christian Academy of Knoxville defense for 310 yards rushing in a 24-7 Tornado win in Knoxville. The Warriors were limited to 44 yards on the ground by comparison. With defensive end Darrell Warren hounding CAK quarterback Quinn Epperly, the Warriors finished with less than 100 yards of total offense.

Last week: The Class 3A No. 1-ranked Tornadoes put McMinn Central on the deck with 37 first-quarter points, and the Chargers never got up in a 51-0 Alcoa shutout. Warren, fullback Taharin Tyson, running back Vanderbilt Hambrick (twice) and senior receiver Steven Isom all had touchdowns in the quarter. Epperly threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns as the No. 2-ranked Warriors tuned up for the district title game with a 34-14 pasting of Elizabethton. Josh Henson (17 yards) and Davis Howell (7 and 12) had touchdown catches. Josh Smith returned a punt 47 yards and had a 38-yard catch to set up a 1-yard Carson Pegram scoring run as CAK finished with 361 yards of offense.

Keep an eye on: It’s easy to overlook them because Alcoa hasn’t thrown 10 passes in a game since the 2008 season, but in Isom and junior Lajuan Warfield, nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Paul Warfield, the Tornadoes have one of the elite receiving duos in the state. The 6-foot-4, gazelle-like Isom is a stunning athlete in the open field. But who are we kidding; the Tornadoes are going to run right at CAK and see if the Warriors can stop them. The game will turn on how well the Warrior offensive line fares against an Alcoa defense line that’s even quicker than a year ago. Warren and fellow senior Jonivan Henry are terrific pass-rushing ends. Juniors Colby Tate and Zach Chapman are super tough to block at the tackles.

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