By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett’s football team improved to 2-0 with an impressive 28-7 win at Campbell County on Friday.
This week, however, first-year coach Hayden Chandley is stressing the fact that the Pioneers are 0-0.
Crockett will open Region 1-5A play when it hosts Volunteer on Friday.
“I told the kids (Monday), ‘It doesn’t matter if you win every non-conference game, if you go .500 in the league, you’re sitting there that last game wondering if you’re getting in the playoffs,’” Chandley said. “Every team controls their own destiny in the conference.”
Volunteer is 1-1 and has been energized running the spread offense under first-year coach Justin Pressley. The Falcons lost 59-46 against Sullivan South last week after opening the season with a 33-7 win against Happy Valley.
“I told our kids it’s not the Volunteer of old now,” Chandley said. “They’re scoring some points and moving the football. … We’re an 88-yard bomb against Seymour and a 50-yard bomb against Campbell County away from having two shutouts on defense.
“We like where we’re at defensively. We’re giving up seven a game and they’re scoring nearly 40. Something has to give.”
The Pioneers held Campbell County to seven points after it had scored 48 in its season-opening win against Cherokee. Crockett denied Campbell County on 5 of 6 fourth-down conversion attempts.
“That’s a credit to our kids and how hard they play and not giving up,” Chandley said. “We throw a pick there (in the first half) and they run it inside the 20 and we bow our back and stuff ‘em and get a turnover on downs right there. That was huge for us.”
Chandley was quick to credit a quintet of Pioneers defenders.
“Adrian Boles, a big D-lineman for us, I believe he had three or four pass deflections just getting his hands up with his big frame,” Chandley said. “He really got after it up front. Mark Seidler, our middle linebacker, was all over the field causing havoc. J.R. Giles, another D-lineman, I believe he had two sacks and wreaked a lot of havoc in their backfield. Dalton Durbin, off the bench, came in there at linebacker and played exceptionally well for us.
“And John Kollie plays our hybrid position. He lines up on one side of the field making tackles everywhere.”
Chandley impressed upon his players throughout the week how well Campbell County is coached with Justin Price and his brother Matt at the helm.
“Last year when I was at Bluefield (College) I actually made a trip up to Campbell County recruiting a couple of their kids,” Chandley said. “So I had been there before and had seen what kind of job he was doing with those kids. … I’m really proud of our defense getting after Campbell County and giving them a lot of different looks and causing them to make some mistakes. That’s a credit to our kids and how hard they played.
“You know, Campbell County’s a good football team. Up front, they block really well. They protect the quarterback. That was a very good challenge for us, but I thought our kids held their own. Coach (Justin) Price and his brother (Matt) – they do a phenomenal job.”
Crockett’s offense started slow, but junior quarterback Cade Larkins threw four touchdown passes in the second half. Larkins, who finished 15-of-24 passing for 211 yards, twice connected with Donta Hackler for TDs.
Chandley was especially impressed with Hackler’s grab a short TD strike.
“His second touchdown – we threw him a fade ball there on about the 4-yard line,” Chandley said. “We threw a jump-ball to him and he went up and high-pointed it and drug a foot. It was a pretty spectacular catch.”
Kollie’s TD reception was a 17-yarder against man coverage after a play-action fake.
“Cade just dropped a dime right in the hole there,” Chandley said, “and John made a great play on the ball.”
Micah Robinson caught a 13-yard TD pass on fourth down in the fourth quarter. Hackler, a junior, finished with seven catches for 100 yards.
Kollie’s productive night included setting up one of Hackler’s TD catches by returning a punt 43 yards to the 2-yard line.
“We had contributions all over the field,” Chandley said. “I tell you, it’s a blessing to come to work every single day. I love these kids, man. They work hard. They come to work every single day. They take coaching well. It’s just a pleasure to be around them. And I’ve got the best staff in East Tennessee.
“I know how fortunate I am to walk into a situation like I did, and I think God every day for that. It’s a talented group, a very special group, and we’re trying to make the most of it.”.