By TREY WILLIAMS
Daniel Boone’s football team had to battle adversity at the beginning of the season, and it didn’t go down without a fight in a season-ending loss at top-seeded South-Doyle.
The Trailblazers began the game with a 16-play, 80-yard drive that Devon White capped with a 6-yard touchdown reception from Kaleb Worley, and they nearly got within a score of the Cherokees on Joe Jones’ 4-yard TD run. Daniel Matherly’s two-point conversion run on a double reverse would’ve gotten the Trailblazers (7-5) within 21-14 with 4:05 remaining, but he was ruled to have been stopped short of the goal line.
Boone failed to recover the ensuing onside kick and Preston Sisler’s late 53-yard interception return sealed a 28-12 triumph for South-Doyle (9-3), which is led by exceptionally fast Missouri commitment Elijah Young.
“We were a two-point conversion away from making it one score and the kid made a great play,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “I thought Daniel got in myself, but the official said he thought the knee was down before the ball crossed. I wish we had a challenge flag, but we didn’t have one. But our kids played hard.”
Indeed, Boone’s effort never wavered after an injury-riddled 1-4 start to the season. They were without offensive lineman Chandler Masters all season and without running back-pass rusher Charlie Cole, an Army commitment, for eight games. And White, a junior and the team’s top linebacker, missed the first three games with a thumb injury.
“They can stick their chests out and hold their heads high, because everybody doubted us when we were 1-4,” Jenkins said. “Nobody thought we would do what we would do. Our kids came out and believed in themselves. We took the first two game balls we played with the first five games and buried them on the practice field. And from there on out we went 6-1.”
Worley, a sophomore who rushed for 84 yards on 18 carries, made a number of impressive runs on the opening drive at South-Doyle to convert third-and-longs. He converted two third-and-longs with scrambles and the TD pass to White came on third-and-four. Boone’s other quarterback, junior Jackson Jenkins, converted two third-and-longs with passes to Phillip Page and Preston Miller.
Another junior, White, had a productive game despite an ankle injury. His TD catch came on third-and-four. He also caught a 21-yard pass on a middle screen on third-and-11 and made a 14-yard catch on a third-and-nine screen pass in the first half.
Junior Brennan Blair (14 carries for 54 yards against South-Doyle) rushed for more than 1,100 yards after being switched to running back from receiver following an injury to Cole which caused him to miss eight games.
Cole, in his second game back from the injury, had seven carries for 30 yards and made multiple tackles for loss.
“He’s an animal,” said South-Doyle coach Clark Duncan, a former standout at Erwin and starting safety at Tennessee. “He’s a big-time player. … I thought the two quarterbacks, Coach Jenkins’ (son Jackson) and the other kid, are good players. … No. 6 (Worley) did a great job running the football.
“I think he told me they only have five to six seniors or so. So I think they have a chance to be right back here next year.”
The Cherokees got 128 yards and two TDs from Young, including a 51-yarder on a fourth-and-one that helped give South Doyle a 7-6 lead.
“He’s the quickest kid I believe I’ve coached against,” Jenkins said.
Young had some kind words for the Trailblazers.
“Shout-out to them,” said Young, who has numerous SEC and ACC offers. “They’re a tough team. They’re so respectful. They’ll help you up after the play. It’s hard to find that around here. I respect ‘em.”
So does Duncan.
“It was competitive, maybe more than the score indicated,” Duncan said. “It was a hard-fought ballgame. I thought Daniel Boone did a great job. I thought Coach Jenkins had a great game plan and attacked in some areas and had some success with it.”
Jones was proud of how Boone fought back from the season’s rocky start – right down to the end. When he scored with 4:05 remaining, it looked like the ‘Blazers just might reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.
“We had a little bit of a bug at the beginning of the season,” Jones said, “but we came out and proved people wrong. I can’t thank my teammates enough, and my coaching staff. It means the world to me. So many memories have been made.
“We wish the score would’ve been different, but we played our hearts out.”