By TREY WILLIAMS
Daniel Boone’s football team appears to be getting dialed in for a potentially memorable run.
The Trailblazers improved to 2-1 in Region 1-5A and 3-3 overall with a 37-13 win against an improved Volunteer (1-3, 2-5) on Friday in Church Hill.
The Trailblazers will host Cocke County this week before traveling to David Crockett for the 50th annual Musket Bowl on Oct. 23. The Pioneers (3-0, 5-2) have a key matchup at Tennessee High (4-0, 5-2) on Friday.
Daniel Boone senior running back Brennan Blair had another productive game at Volunteer and is quickly approaching his second straight 1,000-yard season. Blair ran for more than 1,200 yards last season after running backs Charlie Cole and Devon White sustained respective early season and preseason injuries.
His 197-yard, two-touchdown performance at Volunteer gives him 950 yards rushing on 170 carries this season. He’s rushed for seven TDs.
Blair opened the game’s scoring with a 20-yard TD run with 9:12 left in the first quarter, and his 6-yard TD run gave the Trailblazers a 23-0 lead with 8:27 left in the third quarter.
In between, Boone got a safety and a 12-yard TD pass from Jackson Jenkins to Phillip Page. Jenkins’ completions included a 34-yarder to Kaleb Worley, who made a difficult diving catch.
After Volunteer got on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter, Hagen Edwards ran for a 1-yard TD with 7:43 left in the fourth quarter. Less than two minutes later, Boone’s Ashton Church grabbed the blocked punt and ran 13 yards for the ‘Blazers’ final score.
Ben Shrewsbury was 5-for-5 on PAT kicks.
“We were really efficient offensively in taking what the defense gave us,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “We really challenged our running backs to run more physical, and both Brennan and Hagen did so. It was the best game we have covered kicks all year.
“Micah Manship and Aiden Riner made several plays on special teams. And on defense our defensive ends Will Hamlin and Luke Scott controlled the line of scrimmage.”
Boone might be tempted to peek ahead to the Musket Bowl while preparing for Cocke County (1-2, 2-5), which is coached by former East Tennessee State receiver Scotty Dykes.
“Cocke County has lots of athletes on offense and the most size that we will see up front,” Jenkins said. “They have an athletic quarterback who has several receivers with great size. We will have to tackle well in space and not give up big plays.”
Dykes is impressed with the Trailblazers, particularly their ground game.
“The running game of Boone is one of the best I’ve seen,” Dykes said. “Blair is super-elusive and a big-time back, and the o-line is as good as last year’s, which all of the experience they have up front makes that understandable.
“I think the quarterback and receivers are underrated as well. It will be a huge challenge this week to keep them under control.”
Hagen Edwards and Bo Newton lead Boone’s defense with 47 and 38 tackles, respectively. Hamlin has five tackles for loss, including three sacks, and Scott has five sacks and two forced fumbles.
Jenkins is 56 of 111 passing for 708 yards, eight TDs and four interceptions. Page leads Boone with 18 receptions for 285 yards and five TDs.
David Crockett will look to avenge a loss to Tennessee High last year when it visits the Stone Castle on Friday in a battle for first place in Region 1-5A.
The Vikings are led by athletic skill players such as Division I prospect Jaden Keller and Isaiah Smith.
“It seems like every time you look back there they’ve got a different one coming at you,” Crockett coach Hayden Chandley said. “They just kind of put the freshest one in there and they hit you with it. They do a good job up front of giving you some different schemes, you know, getting a hat on a hat in different ways.
“When you’ve got a pool of backs like they do, that can hit you from different directions with different guys and you can keep those guys fresh, that’s just an added element that you’ve gotta prepare for defensively.”
Chandley is also impressed with the Vikings’ defense, which includes Smith and Keller in the back end and inside linebackers Bryce Snyder and Connor Bailey.
Tennessee High coach Mike Mays said the Vikings will have their hands full with the likes of Notre Dame commitment Prince Kollie and offensive lineman Tony Davis.
“Kollie is a special player that is extremely competitive,” Mays said. “He’s big, strong, has great balance, and he’s a very smart football player. They play him in a number of positions. So knowing where he is all the time and being able to tackle him is very important. …
“Big Tony (Davis) is also a very special player. Big, fast, and very athletic for someone who is 6-foot-3, 290. They have a big o-line that moves people off the ball and a very active defense, not to mention they’re well-coached.”
Kollie has 88 carries for 844 yards and 12 TDs. He also completed 10-of-14 passes while playing a lot of quarterback early in the season.
Quarterback Mason Britton is 44 of 86 passing for 474 yards, two TDs and three interceptions. Brayden Reid has team highs in receptions (14) and receiving yards (205) and TD receptions (two).
Kollie also leads the Pioneers with 49 tackles. Johnny Loyd and Brenden Reid have 35 and 34 tackles, respectively.
“The (Reid) twins are very good football players as well,” Mays said. “They are very athletic and elusive.”
Loyd leads the Pioneers with four sacks. Tony Davis and Damian Vance have two apiece. Jordan Williams has recovered two fumbles and forced a fumble.
Chandley has stressed physicality during the Pioneers’ consecutive off weeks.
“We challenged our kids and we’ve told ‘em the most physical team is gonna win this game,” said Chandley, who is optimistic that the layoff can provide more positives than negatives. “We hope there’s more rest than rust.”
Crockett defeated Tennessee High twice and won the league in 2018 and the Vikings got a measure of revenge with a win in Jonesborough en route to a regional title last year.
“It’s gonna be a battle for us,” Mays said. “It will take all we have for 48 minutes or more to have a chance. Gonna be a great atmosphere in the Castle Friday and we are looking forward to the tremendous challenge.”