By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett’s offensive line is still a work in progress, but Prince Kollie is a finished product.
Kollie, a senior running back/linebacker that’s committed to Notre Dame, rushed 15 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Pioneers defeat Cocke County, 49-12, in a Region 1-5A game Friday in Newport.
It was the third straight win for Crockett (2-0, 3-2), which will host Sullivan Central on Friday.
Daniel Boone (0-1, 1-3) was off Friday, and has spent the past two weeks preparing for Friday’s game against Dobyns-Bennett (4-0).
Crockett started sluggishly against the Fighting Cocks (0-1, 1-4). Each team scored on its opening drive and the Pioneers were forced to punt on their second one. But Kollie got rolling. He ran for TDs of 5, 15 and 19 yards.
Kollie has 79 carries for 699 yards and 10 TDs on the season. He also has a team-high 44 tackles.
“Prince was a workhorse for us on Friday night,” Chandley said. “They did a good job stacking the box to try and stymie the run game. Prince ran exceptionally well, made a lot of guys miss.
“Up front, it wasn’t our best game overall as a unit. But those guys are continuing to get better, still trying to figure some things out.”
The offensive line Chandley has settled on includes Parrish Combs, Tony Davis, Damian Vance, Trace Silvers and freshman Isaiah Tiser.
“It was really only that unit’s second game as a starting five,” Chandley said. “So they’re gonna continue to get better for us each and every week.”
Brendan Reid ran for a score and returned an interception 46 yards for a TD.
“The secondary had went pick-less through the first four games and I’m their position coach,” Chandley said. “So I kept joking in practice all week that we’re gonna have to fire the defensive backs coach if they don’t start playing better. But my group was able to get two picks. That was really good to see.
“Jordan Williams had three takeaways himself Friday night. That was a really bright spot for us. This year is the first year he’s really been under the gun. He’s had two injuries the last two years and it’s really limited his reps, not only in games, but in practice. This was his fifth game under the lights and it was really good to see Jordan have a good game.”
Fellow junior John Rucker is also improving in the secondary and at receiver.
“John has really grown up since last year,” Chandley said. “He was kind of thrown into the fire late last season with some injuries we had. He’s our best corner cover guy. I think he leads us in pass breakups with maybe nine or 10.”
The defensive backs could get a workout against Central, which is led by quarterback Will Nottingham and receiver Connor Wilson.
“The Nottingham kid throws it really well,” Chandley said. “He will probably be, to this point, the second-best arm that we’ve seen behind the (Jaxon) Diamond kid from Science Hill. They remind me of us the (previous) couple of years. They like to throw it 65-70 percent of the time. They’re gonna keep you on your toes with the vertical passing game, but also the quick game if you play with too much cushion.
“Nottingham is also their best runner, for sure. When we do force him from the pocket, we have to make sure we get him on the ground. …
“Wilson is probably their best player. He’s definitely their best receiver and plays corner for ‘em as well. He’s kind of a do-it-all kid and we’ll have to know where he is at all times.”
Daniel Boone had two weeks to prepare for Dobyns-Bennett after a heartbreaking 23-21 loss to defending state champion Elizabethton. After going against an excellent quarterback in Bryson Rollins, the Trailblazers will face another one in Zane Whitson, who has passed for 524 yards, four TDs and one interception.
“D-B is a well-coached team that does not make many mistakes,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “Defensively, they really run to the ball. And offensively, they are led by one of the area’s best quarterbacks with a strong running game and physical offensive line.”
Second-year head coach Joey Christian’s Indians have outscored opponents 140-17 during the 4-0 start. They defeated a pretty good Tennessee High, 35-0, and weren’t threatened by Oak Ridge (19-3). Running back Tyler Tesnear has 479 yards on 69 carries.
Boone has an excellent offensive line as well. Brennan Blair has 115 carries for 586 yards and three TDs.
“We need to take care of the ball and get ahead of the chains consistently,” Jenkins said. “On defense, we have to tackle well and stay keyed in on reads and not get caught up in all the motion and shifts. We have to be physical and have tremendous effort and make it a four-quarter game.”