By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett survived and advanced while Daniel Boone thrived to advance in a historic opening round of the football playoffs for Washington County.
The Pioneers (11-0) and Trailblazers (9-2) each won a playoff game on the same night for the first time. Of course, Crockett’s 20-17 overtime thriller at home against Knox Halls was the program’s first playoff win.
Senior Micah Robinson caught a second-down, 12-yard touchdown pass from Cade Larkins to end it after Halls had kicked a field goal on its opening possession of overtime.
Daniel Boone’s senior quarterback, Easton Harrell, rushed 16 times for 106 yards and three TDs and was 7-of-10 passing for 82 yards and a touchdown in the Trailblazers’ 32-14 win against Gibbs at Nathan Hale Stadium.
Boone will visit Knox Central (9-2) on Friday while Crockett will host Tennessee High (8-3). If the Washington County rivals each win, they’d meet in a Musket Bowl rematch on Nov. 16 in Jonesborough. The Pioneers defeated the ‘Blazers, 34-27, at Crockett on Oct. 19.
It appeared Crockett’s season might come to an end Friday when Halls (5-6) began overtime with a field goal. Former Pioneers head coach Jeremy Bosken (2013-16) is in his first season as Halls’ head coach, and although he was suspended for the game due to his ejection in a win against Seymour the previous week, his Red Devils had a good game plan.
A cold, wet night wasn’t favorable for the Pioneers’ passing game either, and junior quarterback Cade Larkins completed 15 of 35 pass attempts for 261 yards.
But he connected twice with Robinson for touchdowns, including one on the game-winning route to the right edge of the end zone. Robinson made a sliding catch on the lofted timing throw.
“Very proud of the way we battled – not only Knox Halls, but the weather, the conditions,” Crockett first-year coach Hayden Chandley said. “We weren’t really able to open up the entire playbook based on those things and it kind of hindered us on offense. Credit to our kids, Cade and Micah, making a play down the stretch when we needed one.
“The defense got a huge stop for us and we were able to score in two plays and Micah came up with the big catch. … We scored on the same play a little bit earlier. Our second touchdown was the same play and we knew that we liked that matchup that Micah had in the slot. Micah set him inside and was able to get some separation. Cade couldn’t throw a better ball and Micah was able to hold on.”
Harrell went over 1,000 yards rushing during the game. He also threw a 22-yard TD pass to Logan Rivers. Sophomore Devon White provided the Trailblazers’ other score – a 4-yard TD run.
Boone junior Charlie Cole rushed 23 times for 86 yards. He has 1,810 yards rushing on the season.
Peyton Nickles and Daniel Lusk had nine tackles apiece for Boone. Isaiah Quaintance and Austin Cunningham each recovered a fumble.
White leads Boone with 88 tackles. Rivers has a team-high 13 tackles for loss. Nickles has forced three fumbles and recovered three fumbles, which are each team highs.
Boone lost 16-0 to Knox Central in the first round of the playoffs last season. The ‘Blazers were without Cole, defensive lineman Austin Cox and, for three-plus quarters, leading receiver C.J. Carter.
Central began this season 0-2 with losses to Tennessee High (19-16) and Fulton (18-9), but has since won nine straight in convincing fashion. All were by double digits, and among Central’s impressive victories were routs of Halls (49-17) and South-Doyle (35-0), and a 35-20 win against Hardin Valley.
The Bobcats had four turnovers with a young quarterback in the season-opening loss at home to Tennessee High.
“Knox Central is a very athletic team that plays really physical in the line of scrimmage,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “They are primarily a two-back gun team that comes right at you and will go play-action and try to hit you deep. On defense their front is really active with lots of stunts and blitzes.
“We have to move the ball consistently and stay out of negative plays. We have to meet their physicality in the line of scrimmage and tackle really well. I really like our preparation and I expect us to go down there and play well.”
Crockett defeated Tennessee High 24-21 in overtime at the Stone Castle on Oct. 12 thanks to AJ Boyd’s 27-yard field goal. Larkins threw 74- and 73-yard TD passes to Robinson in that one, and connected with Prince Kollie for a 9-yard TD.
“We know Tennessee High is going to come in here fired up and ready to go,” Chandley said. “Our last meeting could have went either way. We just happened to edge them out in the end. They have a good football team, are extremely well coached and very disciplined. Offensively we have to protect Cade and let our playmakers make plays in space. Defensively we have to win first down and make it tough on their play-caller and create some second- and third-and-longs.”
Larkins has passed for 3,433 yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Robinson has 51 receptions for 1,120 yards and 14 TDs. Donta Hackler has 59 catches for 1,076 yards and 14 TDs. John Kollie (36 receptions, 552 yards, five TDs), Mark Seidler (23-390-2) and Prince Kollie (21-263-3) are also popular targets of Larkins.
Junior Ronquille Joyner leads the Pioneers with 824 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
Seidler leads the Pioneers with 111 tackles in 11 games. John Kollie has made 94 tackles in 10 games. Seidler (18.5) and sophomore Tony Davis (12) are first and second in tackles for loss. Hackler has a team-high four interceptions and 18 touchdowns.