This week’s player of the week is Daniel Boone’s volleyball team. The team clinched the district title and advanced to the state tournament.
This week’s player of the week is Daniel Boone’s volleyball team. The team clinched the district title and advanced to the state tournament.
This week’s player of the week is David Crockett’s girls cross country team. The team recently won the Bristol Cross meet at Steele Creek Park. Check back next week for the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.
By TREY WILLIAMS
What doesn’t kill you, they say, will make you stronger, and Daniel Boone’s football team is confident that it was strengthened by enduring a taxing non-conference schedule after a rash of key injuries.
The Trailblazers are still without exceptional running back Charlie Cole (arm), but Devon White continued to find his stride in his second game back from a thumb injury during Daniel Boone’s 28-21 victory at Morristown East on Friday.
White, a junior inside linebacker-running back, led the ‘Blazers (1-1, 2-4) with 11 tackles and carried the ball 10 times for 55 yards.
“He made a lot of open-field tackles against their really shifty quarterback,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “He’s just getting better and better for us and he’s kind of a calming factor over there for us on defense. But we had a lot of kids make plays. Cole Bishop, coming back off an injury, pressured the quarterback well. Eli Penix, another sophomore, really pressured the quarterback well.
“We’ve got a lot of areas to improve, but our kids took a step in the right direction.”
A number of players took a lot of positive steps at Morristown East. The ‘Blazers rushed for 296 yards. Brennan Blair ran for 141 yards, and quarterback Kaleb Worley (11 carries, 60 yards) and Joe Jones (4-50) contributed significantly to the ground game.
“We finally established the run game,” Jenkins said. “We had 296 yards on the ground and Brennan ran for 141 of those. (Blair) just hits the hole so hard and he’s got breakaway speed in the secondary. He’s not played a lot of running back. We usually had him at receiver and he’s our jet (sweep) guy.
“But with the injuries that we’ve had, we’ve put him there along with Devon and Joe. And Kaleb, too. Joe’s really the speedster. Brennan can hit it up inside and get outside. Devon is kind of more the power guy, and Kaleb’s a power guy, too.”
Worley also had a solid passing game, as did Jackson Jenkins. Worley was 5 of 7 passing for 96 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to Phillip Page while helping the Trailblazers build a 28-7 halftime lead. Jenkins was 4 of 6 for 50 yards.
“Both quarterbacks played well,” Jenkins said. “I thought that was the best game Kaleb has played.
“We know we can throw the ball if they can’t just play five in the box and have to honor us (running the ball) a little bit.”
Jenkins’ primary concern from the victory at East was a lackluster second half.
“We didn’t finish like we’d like to in the second half,” he said. “We had way too many snaps on defense. I believe we had 11 penalties the second half, nine on offense that kept us behind the sticks the whole half.
“We hadn’t been ahead much at halftime and we were up 28-7. And we come out and they hit a deep ball and made it, 28-14. And we had six holding penalties called the second half. We just kind of spun our wheels offensively.”
Jenkins isn’t certain Cole will return this season. He’s still in a cast, and rehab would follow its removal. A return for the regular season finale against Cherokee appears possible, if not likely, and Jenkins said coming back in time for a first-round playoff game might be more realistic.
“It’ll be a shot in the arm for us if he is,” Jenkins said. “But we can’t really control that. I know he’s wanting to play, but it’s been six weeks and he’s still in a cast.”
Boone will host Volunteer (0-3, 2-4) for homecoming on Friday. The Falcons have a versatile athlete in Peyton Derrick on offense and a gambling defense.
“It’s kind of feast or famine,” Jenkins said. “They may hit you in the backfield a couple of times, but if you can break the line of scrimmage, you’re in the secondary one on one. We’ve gotta do a good job getting a hat on a hat. We wanna be coming out of homecoming with a victory there.”
David Crockett was off last week. The Pioneers (2-0, 5-0) will visit Cherokee (3-0, 6-1) in a key Region 1-6A match up on Friday.
From STAFF REPORTS
The Daniel Boone Cross Country Team competed in a weekend race at the Low Country Invitational on Johns Island, Charleston, South Carolina against 48 teams.
The boys varsity team placed second, 108-130, to Lexington, South Carolina.
Conner Wingfield earned individual honors with a fourth place finish in 16:21. Other varsity members were Max Austin (17:39.1), Keaton Smith (17:39.4), Bryson Lewis (17:51), Austin Galloway (17:53.5), Mason Lewis (17:53.8) and Jameson Cline (18:03).
The girls varsity team placed fourth, just seven points away from a second place finish.
Kamryn Wingfield (20:23), Patricia Chellah (20:24) and Judy Chellah (20:26) all earned individual honors.
Remaining varsity members were Grace Sheldon (21:36), Lauren Spry (21:53), Chloe Brown (22:17) and Alysse Rowland (22:42).
The boys junior varsity team placed second, just eight points behind Spring Valley. Sam Hall (19:00), Ben Carter (19:02) and Gavin Leonard (19:15) all placed in the top 10.
This week’s player of the week is Crockett’s Gracie Garland. Gracie competed on the green for the Pioneers at the conference tournament. Check back next week to see the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.
By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett quarterback Cade Larkins stayed on pace to have a chance at the all-time state passing records for yards and touchdowns despite not playing in the second half of Friday’s 49-7 victory at Sullivan Central.
Larkins passed for five TDs and 245 yards while helping the Pioneers (5-0) build a 42-0 halftime lead.
He’s some 1,500 yards away from the career passing mark. His 182 yards passing against Ooltewah will not count unless the season-opening game that was suspended with Crockett leading in the second half would have to be resumed due to playoff implications, and there’s a slim chance of that.
Not that Larkins or the Pioneers are preoccupied with individual achievements.
“We know it’s there but we’re just focusing one day at a time,” said Crockett second-year coach Hayden Chandley, who improved to 17-1.
Sullivan Central coach Chris Steger is impressed with Larkins.
“The quarterback’s phenomenal,” Steger said. “He throws the deep ball. His pocket presence is about as good as anybody I’ve ever seen.
“When people try to bring pressure he knows how to slide around in the pocket and make that play last, keeping those eyes downfield looking for those receivers.”
Prince Kollie and Donta Hackler each had two TD receptions at Central.
The Pioneers also took some peeks at the future at quarterback against Central.
Mason Britton, a 6-foot-4 junior receiver, moved to quarterback for much of the second half after catching a TD pass prior to intermission. And freshman Hayden Wesley finished up.
“One of the brightest spots was Mason Britton at quarterback,” Chandley said. “He completed three or four balls and looked extremely crisp. He got us about three quarters of the way down the field – and that was his second drive and we took him out to get our freshman some reps, too.
“So that was one of the brightest spots to see. He hasn’t got a whole lot of time at quarterback and reps at quarterback, but it was a good opportunity to get our backup some work. And I thought Hayden Wesley came in and ran the offense extremely well once Mason exited the game.”
Crockett played crisply in the first half.
“We came out and really hit on all cylinders straight from the jump,” Chandley said.
“I feel like we’ve gotten better each and every week at starting faster and it was good to see us come out and play the way we did to start the game.”
The reserves finished the game with focus, too. Freshman Aiden Clark and senior Jackson Warner had their moments.
“Aiden Clark caught a couple of balls on offense and made a couple of tackles on defense,” Chandley said.
“Jackson Warner, a reserve defensive lineman for us, had a big sack on their first possession the second half. That was good to see as well.”
Larkins is 89 of 145 passing for 1,405 yards, 21 TDs and one interception (not including the Ooltewah performance).
Ronquille Joyner, who had a 45-yard TD run at Central, leads the Pioneers with 472 yards rushing and seven TDs on the ground.
Kollie leads the Pioneers with 34 catches for 684 yards and eight TDs. Hackler (28 catches, 368 yards, four TDs) and Britton (18-266-7) are the other top targets.
Kollie also leads the Pioneers with 31 tackles. Caleb Hackler has a team-high 3.5 sacks.
Chandley hopes to get receiver-defensive back Eric Dunbar (knee) back when Crockett returns to play in Region 1-5A next week at Cherokee. The Pioneers are off this week.
“We’re very hopeful to get him back for Cherokee,” Chandley said. “If we’re in the NFL he’d be probable.”
Daniel Boone — Dobyns-Bennett 38, Daniel Boone 0
Injury-hampered Daniel Boone (1-4) returned from a bye week with a 38-0 home loss to Dobyns-Bennett. Second-year coach Joey Christian’s Indians improved to 5-0.
Brennan Blair had nine carries for 55 yards for Boone, which will return to Region 1-5A play when it travels to Morristown East on Friday.
This week’s player of the week is Daniel Boone’s Mackenzie Sweigart. Mackenzie has been a leader on the court for the Trailblazers this season.
By TREY WILLIAMS
With eight new starters on defense, David Crockett didn’t figure to be pitching shutouts this season.
But the Pioneers recorded a 35-0 win at home against Cocke County on Friday, holding the Fighting Cocks to 77 yards of offense in the Region 1-6A victory.
Crockett (2-0, 4-0) forced four turnovers, giving it 13 takeaways in four games.
“A player I’ve been big on since week one is Brenden Reid,” said Crockett second-year coach Hayden Chandley, who improved his record to 16-1. “The kid just makes plays. He plays one of our strong safety spots.”
Reid, a sophomore, has 27 tackles on the season. Junior Prince Kollie has 28.
“I think Brenden led us in tackles and had a tackle for loss (against Cocke County),” Chandley said. “He’s just got a nose for the football and plays extremely hard. His twin, Brayden, had a fumble recovery for a touchdown. I’m just really proud of the way those two guys have just come into their own here in the middle part of the season. That’s been a really good sight to see.”
Kollie had seven catches for 130 yards and Donta Hackler had five catches for 100 yards against the Cocks. Senior quarterback Cade Larkins passed for 276 yards. Larkins, who has a shot at the state passing yardage record, is 71 of 117 passing for 1,160 yards, 16 TDs and no interceptions.
Kollie, who has 25 catches for 541 yards and six TDs, is being followed closely by Virginia Tech.
“Virginia Tech talks to Prince pretty much every other day,” Chandley said. “Prince had a big third-down sack in the first half (against Cocke County), which was good to see. And offensively, Prince had another superb game at receiver and Mason Britton had another touchdown reception. It’s kind of funny, Mason’s caught 13 balls on the year, I think, for six touchdowns. It’s just kind of crazy the way it’s worked out.
“We were without (receiver-defensive back) Eric Dunbar. It was the first game he’s missed. He got hurt against Knox Webb. He got a little knee issue. He’ll be out again this week, but then with the bye week coming up (Oct. 4) we hope to get him back for the Cherokee game. The offensive line did some good things as well. Blaine Greer, Tony Davis, Caleb Hackler, Parish Combs and all those guys played really well defensively up front.”
Crockett has sustained the focus it had last season while advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
“Last year’s motto was All In,” Chandley said. “This year we’ve adopted the saying ‘Be Great.’ … Do you want to be remembered as the senior class that went 12-1 as juniors and then had a letdown as seniors?
“We’ve challenged the kids to that, and they’ve upheld that standard so far. The standard now in Jonesborough is you’ve gotta bring it every single day, no days off and you don’t play second fiddle to anybody. There’s just good buzz in the school and in the community. The kids, you know, are carrying around a big chest, and they deserve that. They’ve worked their tails off for it. Hopefully, we can continue that.”
Chandley chuckles when being credited with the most successful 17-game stretch in the program’s 49-year history.
“These kids, man, I’m telling you, it’s a blessing to coach these kids,” he said. “I thank God every day for bringing me here. There’s never been athletes to come through here quite like the ones we have. The credit goes to those guys and buying in to the vision the staff has for the program. They bought in real quick.
“So far it’s worked out. I’m blessed to have the staff that we’ve got. I surrounded myself with a great group of coaches that are not only great football coaches, but they care about young men.”
David Crockett will play Sullivan Central this week before concluding the season with four straight league games.
Injury-riddled Daniel Boone, which was idle last week, jumps right back into the fire against Dobyns-Bennett this week.
This week’s player of the week is Boone’s Jaycie Jenkins. Jaycie has been a leader for the Trailblazer volleyball team this season. Check back next week to see the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.
From STAFF REPORTS
It’s already been a good year for David Crockett High School Cheer.
Crockett’s cheerleaders participated in the Universal Cheerleaders Association cheer camp this year. Seven DCHS cheerleaders were named All-American Cheerleaders.
The Pioneer team received third place in overall varsity, first place in rally with big stunt, fourth place in cheer, and fourth place in sideline.
Overall, there were 22 teams, 18 Varsity teams, and 355 cheerleaders competing.
The seven students named All-Americans were Breanna Mauk, Jessica Aiken, Savannah Lands, Sydnee Hill, Zoe Chapman, Brooke Dinnes and JD Waldrop.
Cheerleading squads that attend a Universal Cheerleaders Association camp can nominate squad members to try out for the honor of being named a UCA All-American.
When an athlete becomes an All-American cheerleader, he or she is invited to perform at special events across the country and the world such as the London New Year’s Day Parade or the Rome New Year’s Day Parade.
By TREY WILLIAMS
For the first time this season, David Crockett’s football team found itself in a competitive game in a hostile environment. And physical, deliberate Knox Webb wasn’t an ideal match up.
But the Pioneers persevered, pulling out a 28-21 victory to improve to 3-0. It was the 15th win in 16 games for second-year coach Hayden Chandley.
“They were big up front and got in some heavy packages there and was able to impose their will on us,” Chandley said. “It was tough sledding for us there a couple of drives, but at the end of the day, we were able to get off the field a couple of times when it mattered most. Fortunately, we were able to make enough plays to get the ‘W’. And any time you go down to Knoxville and get a win, you take it — especially against a program with rich tradition such as Knox Webb.”
Senior quarterback Cade Larkins passed for three touchdowns and senior receiver Donta Hackler, who didn’t have to contend with double-team coverage for the first time this season, had nine catches for 150 yards.
“Webb played Donta pretty much straight up,” Chandley said. “They didn’t shade to him, and that was really the first time we’d seen that this year. Science Hill, I felt like, kind of tried to play a corner and a safety over top or a linebacker and a corner. And then Volunteer pretty much doubled him the entire game.
“That can be frustrating to a kid. At Volunteer I think he had two catches. You could tell he was a little bit frustrated. Then Webb plays us pretty much straight up, and as you can see from his stat line, we were able to take advantage of them doing that.”
Hackler, who is being recruited heavily by Charlotte, has 19 catches for 235 yards and one TD. His attention has helped Prince Kollie (18 catches, 412 yards, five TDs) and Mason Britton (11-167-5) get off to hot starts.
Ronquille Joyner rushed for more than 100 yards at Webb, and his TD in the fourth quarter gave the Pioneers a 28-14 lead. Crockett had led 14-7 at the half and 21-7 in the third quarter.
“The first play of the second half we hit Donta for about 60 to down inside the 20, set up Prince’s TD a couple of plays later,” Chandley said. “That put us up 21-7. … Credit to our kids, as soon as they punched us, we responded with a score of our own.
“We put together a real nice drive and Ronquille ended up capping it off with a short touchdown run. That was what I was most proud of. Going down there to a rich-tradition program and facing a little bit of adversity there, and every time they scored we answered right back with a punch of our own. That was really good to see.”
Sophomores Brendan and Brayden Reid have had productive starts to the season on defense. They have 21 and 19 tackles, respectively.
“We kind of knew what we were getting,” Chandley said. “They were kind of the hidden that nobody really knew about. Before this week I think they were leading us in tackles. I think they got passed up by Johnny (Lloyd) and Prince. But I can’t say enough about them, specifically Brendan.
“I think Brendan has been our MVP on defense thus far. He’s a really smart kid. He isn’t the biggest kid, but he’ll stick his nose in there. He’s not scared of anything. He’s made plays. He’s got a pick and he’s third on the team playing the safety spot. That says a lot about his nose for the football, his aggressiveness and being able to play the run and the pass.”
Crockett will host Cocke County on Friday.
Daniel Boone — Elizabethton 35, Daniel Boone 12
The Trailblazers (1-3), who lost their best offensive lineman (Chandler Masters) for the season to an August injury, were still without their top two players in Charlie Cole (arm) and Devon White (thumb). Boone is off this week, and will host Dobyns-Bennett on Sept. 27. There’s a chance White could return for that one.
This week’s player of the week is Crockett’s Cade Larkins. Cade has been a leader for the Pioneers this season, including the team’s historic win over Science Hill in Jonesborough. Check back next week to see the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.
From STAFF REPORTS
Daniel Boone High School’s cross country teams competed at the Cherokee Classic in Knoxville on Saturday, Sept. 7 against 61 teams.
The girls varsity team placed third while the boys varsity team placed fourth.
Kamryn Wingfield Winfield and Judy Chellah medaled with top 20 finishes out of 250 runners. Conner Wingfield and Max Austin medaled in the top 20 of 350 runners.
By TREY WILLIAMS
Daniel Boone was missing its best player, Charlie Cole, and its best defensive player, Devon White, when it opened Region 1-5A play against Tennessee High on Friday at Nathan Hale Stadium.
Cole said Friday that he might miss four more games due to a forearm fracture sustained in the second half of a week two loss to Greeneville. White is week to week with a thumb injury he suffered during summer camp.
Their injuries helped produce a painful introduction to league play against Tennessee High. The Vikings got two touchdown runs and a 97-yard kickoff return from junior Jaden Keller and rolled to a 35-0 victory.
Key players’ absences notwithstanding, Trailblazers coach Jeremy Jenkins was disappointed in his team’s performance.
“We’ve played without ‘em before,” Jenkins said. “So that’s just an excuse. We got whipped in the line of scrimmage. We didn’t tackle. And that’s the game – period.”
White is also Boone’s second-string running back. Jenkins is high on running back Joe Jones too, but there was usually nowhere for Jones to roam when he got handoffs against the Vikings.
“We said going in we had to be physical in the line of scrimmage against a good, active front like Tennessee High,” Jenkins said. “Their movement hurt us all night. We didn’t sustain many blocks. We didn’t sustain many drives.”
Indeed, Boone was held to 106 yards of offense and five first downs. The Vikings only generated 219 yards, but methodically marched for several scores.
“We didn’t tackle well and we couldn’t get off the field on third down,” Jenkins said. “That was the whole entire game. We could not get off the field. We had ‘em third-and-eight or more six times and they get five out of six and sustain drives.”
Tennessee High led 14-0 at halftime. Boone botched a punt late in the first half that set up Keller’s second TD run. And then Keller returned the second half kickoff 97 yards to the Daniel Boone 2-yard line, setting up quarterback Cole McBrayer’s 1-yard TD.
“The play of the game was the kickoff return,” Jenkins said. “We defended them better in the second half than we did in the first half as far as making them earn more stuff. But the kickoff return kind of took the wind out of our sails.”
Boone (0-1, 1-2) goes back out of conference this week when it visits Elizabethton on Friday. That’ll be followed by a home game with another undefeated team, Dobyns-Bennett (3-0), on the Sept. 27. Dobyns-Bennett beat Tennessee High, 33-13.
“We’re gonna find out what we’re made of the next couple of (games),” Jenkins said, “because now we’re behind the 8-ball conference wise. We’ve gotta really scratch and claw to get back in the conference race. Nobody’s gonna feel sorry for us.”
Certainly, Keller and the Vikings didn’t.
“Charlie and Devon White not being there – that was a big part,” Vikings coach Mike Mays said. “But I think our defense still played well and I think our offense had a great game plan. We competed and we executed.
“We were ready to play, and when you lose a star like Charlie it is gonna deflate your team. It can go two ways – they can be fired up and play for him, or it can deflate. I think it just deflated ‘em. They’re still a good football team.”
David Crockett — David Crockett 48, Volunteer 19
The Pioneers (2-0) opened Region 1-5A play with a convincing road win a week after a historic rout of Science Hill.
Cade Larkins passed for 268 yards and five TDs and fellow senior Ronquille Joyner rushed for 154 yards as second-year coach Hayden Chandley improved his career record to 14-1.
Junior Mason Britton caught two TD passes for the second straight week. Eric Dunbar also had two touchdown receptions.
Junior Prince Kollie caught a 70-yard TD. Kollie has a team-high 12 receptions for 294 yards, and his four TD receptions are tied for the team lead with Britton.
Sophomores Brayden and Brenden Reid lead Crockett with 17 and 15 tackles, respectively.
The Pioneers will visit Knox Webb on Friday. Webb (1-2) is coming off a 28-21 loss at Boyd Buchanan, which is coached by former Crockett coach Jeremy Bosken.
By TREY WILLIAMS
Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” blared while skydivers touched down on the field prior to David Crockett’s home game against Science Hill on Friday.
Once the game kicked off, Crockett senior quarterback Cade Larkins was the touchdown-delivering top gun.
Larkins passed for 330 yards and five touchdowns as David Crockett emphatically recorded its first victory against the Hilltoppers with a 62-34 rout.
Junior Prince Kollie caught seven passes for 150 yards and three TDs – all in the first half – and senior Ronquille Joyner rushed for 135 yards and two TDs. The Pioneers dashed to a 34-7 lead – Eric Dunbar’s 78-yard interception return for a score made it 27-0 – and the ‘Toppers defense was so overmatched that Science Hill attempted multiple onside kicks in the first half.
One Crockett staffer said it was believed to be the first win for Crockett in 22 meetings in the series.
“Wow,” Crockett second-year coach Hayden Chandley said before pausing a moment to soak in a postgame celebration that included a glancing blow from an attempted Gatorade shower. “What a night for David Crockett High School. The people here. To put up 62 points on an opponent like Science Hill. Words can’t express how good we feel.
“I didn’t think that they had ever beaten Science Hill. But wow. What a way to get our first win, if it was the first win.”
Larkins, a reigning Mr. Football finalist with a handful of Division I offers, including East Tennessee State, was a man among boys at times. He passed accurately on a broad range of routes. He bought time when pressure materialized while his eyes were always seemingly surveying the receivers.
Crockett converted a fourth-and-11 on its opening drive. The coverage wasn’t a bust, but Donta Hackler (eight catches, 70 yards) ran a good route and Larkins delivered a strike on time.
“I tell you, he makes us look really good as coaches a lot of times,” said Crockett second-year coach Hayden Chandley. “Pressure breaks down and he escapes the pocket and just finds the open guy. I can’t say enough about 16. I don’t know what his numbers were tonight, but wow, what a performance. He carried us. When we needed a play he made it. We’re glad he’s on our side and (we’re) not having to game-plan against him.”
Science Hill defensive coordinator Ralph Nelson didn’t envy game-planning against Larkins, not to mention his top targets.
“This Hackler kid has a big-time college body with him,” Nelson said. “He’s got the length, the height, the speed and catches about everything. Hackler and the Kollie kid – you just don’t see that much, but especially with that quarterback.
“The quarterback makes the whole thing go. He’s probably the best quarterback I’ve seen in terms of just throwing. He’s smart. He knows coverages. You’re not gonna trick him. You’ve just gotta hope you can get to a spot before they can. We scrimmaged ‘em when he was a sophomore and knew he was special then. You’re talking about a kid that could be the best quarterback that’s ever played in the state of Tennessee as far as passing. He’s on track to get what, 8,000 yards – something crazy. … He can make all the throws.”
Mason Britton had four catches for 100 yards and two TDs. Larkins left the pocket and showed patience before delivering strikes to Britton.
“We won’t see a better kid throwing it like that,” Science Hill coach Stacy Carter said. “That’s pretty special. That’s really special. And it’s obvious. He made some great throws. He’s just a great player. …
“They’ve got some guys that can really play. There’s about three people (for the Pioneers) that are fantastic football players.”
While playing at Daniel Boone, Chandley was 2-0 against Science Hill. Coaching the Pioneers to the program’s first victory was perhaps even more gratifying.
“It’s pretty high up there,” Chandley said. “It’s the first win in school history against Science Hill. And to do it in the fashion that we did with 62 points – I never would’ve dreamed we could’ve put up that many points.”
Crockett will open Region 1-5A play when it visits Volunteer on Friday.
Daniel Boone – (Greeneville 31, Daniel Boone 14)
Two-time defending state champion Greeneville (1-1), fresh off a 19-17 loss to Knox Powell that snapped a 30-game wins streak, got 109 yards rushing and two TDs from senior Ty Youngblood.
It was the first win for Greeneville coach Dan Hammonds, who said he has a great deal of respect for Trailblazers coach Jeremy Jenkins.
Boone senior Charlie Cole, an Army commit, sustained a fractured forearm in the second half. He’d rushed for 84 yards on 21 carries. The injury could sideline Cole, a rare combination of speed and power, some 6-8 weeks.
Boone was already without promising junior middle linebacker-running back Devon White, who could return from a thumb injury Friday when the ‘Blazers host Tennessee High in both teams’ Region 1-5A opener.
By TREY WILLIAMS
Lightning officially delayed the start of David Crockett’s football season Friday, but Charlie Cole-led Daniel Boone charged to a season-opening win against Sullivan South.
Cole, a senior that’s committed to Army, rushed 23 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the Trailblazers’ 30-6 defeat of a physically imposing Sullivan South.
Crockett led Ooltewah 19-16 when a lengthy lightning delay forced the game to be suspended. Barring playoff implications, it won’t be completed.
Daniel Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins knew he’d get a complete performance from Cole. However, a defense that graduated eight starters last season and lost middle linebacker Devon White (thumb) this summer for at least the opener offered plenty of uncertainty against a South team with a big offensive line and a proven running back.
“Their offensive line scared us because of their size, and we’re not real big up front on defense and had nine new starters over there,” Jenkins said. ‘We didn’t know what to expect with them making their first start. But I thought our kids played really hard and made some plays when they had to.
“I thought Jacob Bradley really played well at defensive tackle. Will Hamlin, a sophomore, making his first start at defensive end – I thought he played extremely well for us as well. And one of our defensive backs, Daniel Lusk, led us in tackles with 10. He played some last year in our nickel situation and came in late in the year when Joe (Jones) got hurt. But it was his first start to start the season. And Austin Cunningham played well flying around.”
Cole was an asset with the football whether he was toting it or booting it.
“Punting may have been the biggest thing for us,” Jenkins said. “Charlie got ‘em down there inside the 10 twice. One time, the next play was a bad snap and we recovered it for a touchdown.”
Cole’s productive night from the backfield came despite the big Rebels defense focused on him, especially with Boone sophomore quarterback Kaleb Worley making his first start. Worley did make some crucial runs to extend drives and designed plays.
“They were really keying on Charlie, and we knew that,” Jenkins said. “The quarterback draw was good to us. I thought he (Worley) played well and handled it pretty good.”
Boone will host defending state champion Greeneville on Friday.
“Offensively, we’ve gotta get better in a lot of places,” Jenkins said. “South was really big and physical up front, and they gave us some trouble a little bit early on. But we know we’ve got a whole ‘nother animal this week with Greeneville, because they really pride themselves on being physical and dominant and trying to be the most physical team out there. You’ve gotta match that physicality with them. And we know they’re gonna come in here really hungry coming off a loss to Knox Powell.”
Cole and Greeneville linebacker-running back Ty Youngblood are both physical, downhill players. It could cause quite a ruckus if they meet in the hole.
“It’d probably sound like a landmine going off,” said Jenkins, who noted having a lot of respect for first-year Greeneville coach Dan Hammonds and his staff.
Greeneville opened the season with a 19-17 loss at Knox Powell on Thursday. It snapped the two-time defending state champions’ 30-game wins streak.
“We’re excited to play against Greeneville,” Jenkins said. “The defending state champion coming in, you don’t have that very often and we know there’s gonna be a good crowd in Gray with two quality teams getting after each other. We know we’re gonna have to tackle a whole lot better. They’ve got athletes all over the field. We’ve gotta do a good job of tackling in space.”
Crockett’s Ronquille Joyner rushed for a 2-yard TD to give the Pioneers their 19-16 lead in the third quarter.
Pioneers senior Cade Larkins was 16-of-21 passing for 180 yards, one TD and two interceptions. He was pressured early and often, and had to leave the game a couple of plays after driving the Pioneers to the 13-yard line on the scoring march Joyner capped. Larkins engineered a 99-yard drive that Donta Hackler capped with a 28-yard TD catch.
“After we scored our first touchdown, we kick it off to them and force a punt,” Crockett coach Hayden Chandley said. “Then they pin us deep there late in the second quarter with about five minutes to go and we put together a 99-yard drive, and that sequence of score, stop, score, was huge.
“They came out the first drive of the second half and just ran it down our throat and punched it in and only took about three minutes to do it. We responded with an 80-yard drive where we converted three third downs, and two of which were third-and-12. Cade leads us down the field then took a shot on our sideline and had to come out. That kind of rallied our guys.
“Mason (Britton) came in and did a good job. First play we rattle off a 12-yard run to get us down to the 1-yard line. I was really pleased with how we responded to our captain going down like that.”
Hackler finished with six catches for 76 yards. Prince Kollie also had six receptions (47 yards) and Eric Dunbar caught three passes for 48 yards.
Brendan Reid rushed for a 39-yard TD.
“Ooltewah is a really solid football team,” Chandley said. “They were huge up front and I think we will be hard pressed to play anyone this year with a bigger offensive line than they had. Their running back was a good, strong runner and their defensive backs were solid. They will win their fair share of games this season.”
Kollie and Reid led the way with 11 and nine tackles, respectively, for the Pioneers, who host Science Hill on Friday. Chandley said Crockett will have to figure out how to contain Chris Thomas, who rushed for 215 yards in the Hilltoppers’ 28-20 loss to Elizabethton on Friday.
From STAFF REPORTS
Wetlands Water Park, located at 1523 Persimmon Ridge Road in Historic Jonesborough, hosted its 5th Annual Queens of The Sand Volleyball League this summer, which recently wrapped up on Aug. 1.
The league featured two divisions of players: a middle school division and a high school division. Teams of two players competed against each other, twice weekly, during the month-long season.
This year, the league featured 12 teams in great volleyball action. The competition culminated in a championship tournament to crown the Wetlands’ Queens of the Sand 2019.
In the middle school division, the winners were the team of Addy Rowe, Maddie Humphrey and Sophie Greear.
In the high school division, the winners were the team of Morgan Barkley and Maddie Pleasant.
The Queens of The Sand Volleyball League was developed to promote the sport of volleyball and provide local athletes an opportunity to hone their skills prior to the beginning of the school volleyball season. League play is run by the participating teams as well as the parents.
Wetlands Water Park provides guests a relaxing and enjoyable aquatic experience through the highest quality standards of customer service.
Wetlands Water Park in Jonesborough is a municipally operated park in the State of Tennessee. Wetlands Water Park is designed to encourage the entire family to participate together in an enjoyable and safe aquatic experience.
Wetlands Water Park will be open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
For more information call (423)753-1553.
By TREY WILLIAMS
A year after winning an unexpected berth in the Little League World Series, Daniel Boone’s softball team came painfully close to making it back.
Boone won the 11-12-year-old state tournament in Charlotte, a fifth straight such title for the core group of girls, and advanced to the winners bracket final of the Southeast Region in Warner Robins, Georgia. The repeat run was derailed July 28 thanks, in part, to an extra-inning bloop hit in a 5-4 loss to North Carolina.
When the dust had settled, however, players and coaches alike were proud of the accomplishments and nearly completing an unlikely repeat trip to Portland, Oregon.
“It’s kind of unreal to believe actually, but these girls just set a goal in their minds and they were destined to achieve it,” manager Lori Jenkins said. “Last year, I think, we played out of our socks. It was unreal that we won the Southeast Region and our goal was just to get back (to the regional) again. And we almost had it if we could’ve won that North Carolina game. And we knew whoever won it was going on again to the World Series.”
Boone was propelled by the bats of Riley Croley, Josie Jenkins and Ava Saul at the state tournament. They were essentially on a four-game tear. Each batted over .500 during state tourney play.
“Those three just hit phenomenal down there,” Jenkins said. “They kind of carried us hitting wise.”
Croley batted ninth last year. These days, she’s in the leadoff spot.
“I’d have to say she’s made big strides in her batting and on-base percentage, because at the Southeast Region she ended up batting .545,” Sanders said. “She’s really improved her hitting game. She did a great job.”
Catcher Kyleigh Bacon and Jenkins, the shortstop, anchor the defense.
“Kyleigh Bacon can also pitch, but she’s just so good behind the plate that you just hate to remove her from there,” Jenkins said. “I mean nobody steals on her. She throws everybody out just about. I don’t think anybody stole on here the whole state tournament. I think we allowed one steal in the Southeast Regional just because it was a bobbled pitch trying to catch a changeup.
“(Jenkins) is kind of like the Golden Glove over there. That’s what I call her. She prides herself on defense. She’s kind of one of the main captains on the infield, too. …
“Third baseman Ava Saul is another one of the team leaders. She’s a good defensive person for us.”
Bacon was hot at the plate in Georgia.
“She stepped up really big at the Southeast Region and had phenomenal at-bats,” Jenkins said. “She was batting around .600 at the Southeast Region.”
The pitching ace is Kayleigh Musser. That’s been the case for years. Katie Sparks recently joined the team, and platooned with Musser in the state tournament.
Starters include left fielder Sadie Henson, center fielder Lillie Walters, first baseman Anna Richardson and right fielder Taylor Brinn. Also among the contributors are Matti Phillips, Kenzie Bacon and Addison Dietz.
Boone’s Little League program initially began primarily to nourish the Daniel Boone High School program. But it’s become an entity of its own.
“We just wanted to try to make a team to help out our high school program,” Jenkins said. “It’s mainly why it started. We’ve got some great parents. I can’t think of one time that any parent has ever complained – knock on wood.”
Boone was arguably within a bloop single of a second straight Little League World Series berth. Jenkins won’t soon digest the loss, even if her young players understandably do.
“We tied it up in the sixth inning, 4-4, and had to go in extra innings,” Jenkins said. “They ended up beating us 5-4 in extra innings on – it almost makes me sick – a little blooper. It’s just painful to think about.
“You’ve got 13 girls sitting there staring at ya just bawling. And then we took ‘em to Steak ‘n Shake and they were laughing, cutting up, having a good ole time. And on the trip back home they were wild as bucks. And I’m still ready to chew nails thinking, ‘Man, if I’d just done something different.’”
Jenkins primarily works with the pitchers. Freddie Saul coaches the hitters and Steven Croley assists with fielding instruction.
“All three of us just kind of started when eight of these girls were seven years old,” Jenkins said. “We started down there at Little League and picked a core group of girls that were all the same age and we knew that we could keep together. And we’ve just been working with ‘em ever since.
“It just kind of took off. I never really dreamed it would end up what it’s ended up in Little League.”
By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett senior football players Cade Larkins and Donta Hackler have multiple Division I college suitors, and it appears junior Prince Kollie will have a number of options at that level next year.
Kollie, who has played safety, receiver and running back during his first two seasons, including a record-setting rushing performance as a freshman against Campbell County, performed well at a Virginia Tech mini-camp on Saturday.
“It was an invite-only kind of thing, and he performed really well,” Crockett coach Hayden Chandley said. “They showed quite a bit of interest and said they like what they’ve seen, and they’re gonna continue to monitor him as well.”
Larkins, a record-setting quarterback that led the Pioneers to a 12-0 start and their first quarterfinals appearance last year, also had a productive week on the recruiting trail.
“Arkansas State has been on Cade here for a couple of months now,” Chandley said. “He went to camp there on Friday and performed really well. They’re gonna continue to monitor him.”
Larkins has been offered by the likes of ETSU, Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech. Clint Freeman, a former baseball standout at Crockett and ETSU, said he thinks Larkins has just as high an upside, if not higher, in baseball – and that’s no knock on his quarterbacking skills.
“I know he’s a great quarterback,” Freeman said. “I get it. But some of the things he did in baseball this season, especially when he’s not playing baseball most of the year, were really impressive.”
Hackler, an explosive 6-foot-3 receiver, has offers from Eastern Kentucky, Tulane and Texas-San Antonio. Some of the coaches in Region 1-5A give Crockett an edge at the top, primarily because of Hackler.
“Hackler’s a difference-maker,” said first-year Morristown East coach Caleb Slover, who coached against Hackler in previous seasons while at Cocke County. “He’s a big-time player.”
The Pioneers’ media day is Thursday at 10 a.m. There will be plenty of hype following last year’s unprecedented playoffs run.
Chandley can only hope the taste of success – heaping helping of success, actually – will whet his players’ appetites. There might’ve been a day or two of complacency in the offseason, which is understandable.
“Maybe we’ve battled that a little bit, had to get that little bit of a sense of entitlement out of ‘em,” Chandley said. “We’re still learning to battle through things like that, and our kids are figuring out that nothing’s going to be handed to them and it doesn’t matter what you did last year. We’ve gotta create our own identity.”
Region 1-5A has a number of dangerous teams and quality players, perhaps none more imposing than Charlie Cole at archrival Daniel Boone, Chandley’s alma mater. Cole, a running back with size, speed and strength, has committed to Army.
“The conference has three pretty big stars (Cole, Hackler, Larkins) at the top of it,” Chandley said. “Charlie’s got the big-time offer from Army. That’s a credit to his work ethic. He’s got a great family. I’ve known them for a long time, and I’m extremely happy for him to get the opportunity to go up to West Point.
“But you look past those three guys and there’s still quite a bit of talent. You’ve got the (Nolan) Wishon kid from Bristol that’s a big kid and a big-time talent. You’ve got the quick (Peyton) Derrick kid from Volunteer. Cocke County’s got the big (Lundon) Shelton kid at running back. Morristown East has the (C.J.) Livesay kid at linebacker. There’s hidden gems at each and every school. Some of those guys just get overshadowed by Cole and Cade and Donta.”
The Pioneers are jumping in on the deep end this season, opening by hosting Ooltewah on Aug. 23 before Science Hill visits Jonesborough on Aug. 30.
“We feel like we’ve set ourselves up with a pretty tough non-conference schedule at the front of the year,” Chandley said. “Hopefully that will translate and we will benefit greatly from those challenges at the beginning of the season when we start the tough stretch of conference play.”
By TREY WILLIAMS
As unjust as it seemed, Clint Freeman was resigned to his fate this spring.
At 28 years of age – considered the peak time for an athlete – the former David Crockett and East Tennessee State standout baseball player was out of work despite recording professional highs in doubles (27) and home runs (14) for the Frontier League’s River City Rascals in 2018.
“I was throwing batting practice, coaching at River City,” said Freeman, who is also an assistant baseball coach at Crockett. “I was done playing. I was done with it. I was at peace with it. I just figured if you hit (that many) home runs and doubles and nobody gives you a phone call that it was kind of time to move on from it.”
But before he was a consistent independent league hitter, the 6-foot-1 Freeman was a left-handed pitcher. He combined for 19 saves his final two seasons at ETSU and pitched 26 2/3 innings for Ogden during his second season with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization in 2015. Freeman even provided some spot duty on the mound at River City the past two of his three seasons there.
Left-handed pitching is always at a premium, and it landed Freeman a spot with the Long Island Ducks last month. The first-place Ducks are in the Atlantic League, an independent league that includes a high percentage of players and coaches – and owners – with major-league experience.
Freeman was getting scouting reports on River City opponents when he got a call from former River City teammate Cody Mincey, who pitches for Long Island.
“He asked me, ‘Do you have any video of you pitching,’” Freeman said.
Freeman relayed video and Mincey was soon back in contact. The Ducks manager, former New York Mets second baseman Wally Backman, was intrigued with Freeman’s pitching.
“He said, ‘Our manager really likes you from the left side. We need pitching. Can you come and pitch,” Freeman said. “And I was like, ‘Are you serious? Are you joking me? I haven’t thrown or anything.’ I’d been throwing batting practice. And the next thing I know I’m on the phone with their GM and they sign me. It’s pretty crazy, pretty amazing.”
Freeman said he’s being brought along slowly in games that are essentially already decided. He was throwing 88-92 mph right away, but secondary pitches are being polished, hopefully in time to be an asset during the homestretch of what could be a championship run.
The pitching coach is former MLB player Rick Tomlin. Freeman likes what he’s seen from Backman and Tomlin.
“Wally, whatever you say, I mean he vouches for his players,” Freeman said. “He’s just a players’ coach, honestly. He’s a hard-nosed players’ coach, do-your-job type guy. He likes to have fun.
“Rick Tomlin was the pitching coordinator, head guy for the Brewers. He knows (Elizabethton alum) Danny Clark. It’s a blessing being able to have those guys. You’re never too old to learn stuff.”
The Atlantic League produces high-level baseball.
“Sixteen of the 24 guys on our team have major-league time, and I think eight of them are under the age of 30,” Freeman said. “I think a lot of people’s outlook on it is it’s like a bunch of washed-up players. No, it’s not. It’s a lot of young guys that have played in the major leagues and could still do it. And they come and go. They’ve had like 16 guys get picked up this year.”
Freeman has also gotten three at-bats with the Ducks. He said he hit a ball to the warning track off former Cincinnati pitcher Daryl Thompson.
The Atlantic League has made headlines for a number of experimental rules this season, including a batter being able to try to “steal” first base on passed balls or wild pitches, boundaries to limit defensive shifts and the Robot umpire, which uses cameras to determine balls and strikes.
Freeman said neither him nor anyone else he’s spoken with are fond of the rules.
But other than that, Freeman is again living the dream. He stays in a renovated house in Long Island, New York on what reminds him of an abandoned college campus.
“It goes to show when you think you know what’s gonna happen the Lord has another plan for you,” he said. “I’m sitting there coaching, not evening thinking about playing, and a week later you’re facing three major-league hitters.
“I’m blessed to have this opportunity. There are only a handful of people that get to go this far and play.”