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.