Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Alcoa (2-0), Loudon (2-0)
Previous meeting: The Tornadoes were coming off a win over Maryville a year ago heading into this one, and it showed. The Redskins trailed, 7-0, at the half and remained close until Alcoa opened some breathing room with two third quarter touchdowns en route to a 21-0 win. The Tornadoes know Redskin quarterback Wade Plemons is dangerous with his legs, and he can throw, too.
Last week: In a game for the ages, the top-ranked Tornadoes prevailed, 35-31, over rival Maryville on a Vanderbilt Hambrick 34-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-7 with two minutes remaining. Hambrick finished with 209 yards and three scores, with senior Darrell Warren adding two scores. Loudon had its hands full in a rivalry game with Lenoir City, the Redskins prevailing, 10-7, thanks in no small part to a first-quarter safety after the Panthers botched a punt snap near their goal line. Lenoir City led, 7-2, before Plemons raced in from 43 yards in the third quarter to put Loudon ahead for good.
Keep an eye on: Plemons is all over the place for the Redskins, throwing passes, running the ball, returning kicks, starting in the defensive backfield on defense. Eric Newman looks to be emerging as Plemons’ favorite receiving target through the early going. The Redskins put to good use the short passing game, balanced against Plemons’ ability to tuck it and go.
Hambrick, Warren and fellow seniors Taharin Tyson (fullback), Austin Tallant (quarterback) and Steven Isom (receiver) are proving the marquee names on a star-studded Alcoa roster, but there’s so, so much more. Senior Jordan Patrick at one of the linebackers and junior Zach Chapman at one of the tackles would start for any other Class 3A team in the state. Jonivan Henry, whose fourth-down sack last week iced it, is becoming really tough to block. And even if you seldom watch offensive line play, senior guard Derek Evans and junior center John Tucker Rankin are a real show. Really, check ‘em out. How fast the Tornadoes can get their feet back on the ground after the Maryville win will tell you everything.