Friday Night Preview: Heritage at Maryville

When: Friday

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Records: Heritage (3-1, 0-1), Maryville (2-1, 1-0)

Previous meeting: The Rebels returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown and added an interception run back 90 yards for another score with two seconds to play in the half en route to shutting out the Mountaineers, 35-0, last season at Heritage. The Mountaineer defense limited Maryville to 102 yards rushing and 68 passing. The Rebels were even tougher on the Heritage offense, holding the Mountaineers to 52 yards on the ground, 63 through the air.

Last week: Four different Rebels scored touchdowns as No. 2-ranked Maryville routed McMinn County, 41-0, last week in Athens. Freshman running back Shawn Prevo turned a screen pass into a 60-yard score. Backfield mate and junior Jacob West added a rushing touchdown of 3 yards, later returning a fourth-quarter kickoff 80 yards for another. An Austin Canfield pass to Stian Romberg and two Zach Sharp field goals were plenty for the Rebels. How many of the Cherokees 215 rushing yards came after Maryville had turned the game over to reserves in the second half?

The Mountaineers saw the passing game begin to emerge in a big way in a 30-6 trouncing of Seymour. Quarterback Tyler Hartley threw for 216 yards with touchdown passes to receivers Chase Everett and Dylan Burchfield and running back Chase Cline. Cline also scored on a 24-yard run. Key was a Heritage defense that didn’t allow the Eagles to reach 100 yards either on the ground or through the air.

Keep an eye on: Mountaineer backs Jon-Luc Click and Mar Gordon. Heritage junior Chase Cline made himself a household name in District 4AAA after rushing for back-to-back 200-yard games leading up to last week’s rout of Seymour. The Eagles made stopping Cline on the ground a high priority, and so will the Rebels. Thanks to Hartley, Everett, Burchfield and sophomore Je’Rell Bledsoe, Heritage was able to go to the air, but a shootout with Maryville isn’t advisable. A good night from the power-running Click and/or Gordon could limit the touches of a Maryville offense that hurt Heritage with the big play a year ago. Evan Brown, at one of the ends defensively for Heritage, is really starting to heat up. Linebackers Chris Overstreet, Brad Weeks, Chris Wood and Click must help the front three generate pressure.

The Rebels have taken an almost workman-like approach in dismantling West and McMinn County the last two games. West, Prevo and quarterback Patton Robinette constitute a truly dangerous backfield. Don’t be fooled, though. These Rebels have a passing game absolutely lethal in its versatility. Whether it’s Robinette or Canfield under center isn’t that big a deal at this point. Seniors Desmond Horne, Stian Romberg and Clarence Langley are, and that’s only the beginning. This is a game where a super-fast but lesser known player like Preston Burnette can hurt a team real bad. Horne, Romberg and Dalton Curtis are three parts of a defensive secondary that’s proving a Maryville strength. It’s likely where things will be decided on Friday.

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