By TREY WILLIAMS
Not that he needed any, but Prince Kollie got plenty of help from his friends in David Crockett’s first round playoff victory against Sevier County on Friday in Jonesborough.
Kollie, a senior committed to Notre Dame, put on another dazzling display of strength and athleticism while scoring six touchdowns in a 63-35 Pioneers victory that included productive performances from senior quarterback Mason Britton and junior receiver John Rucker.
It was the ninth straight win for Crockett (9-2), which will host South-Doyle (8-3) on Friday. South-Doyle, coached by former Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Clark Duncan (Unicoi County), eliminated Daniel Boone (5-5) with a 48-19 victory Friday in Knoxville.
Crockett’s matchup with Sevier County (5-6) wasn’t the sure thing it’d seemed to be beforehand. The Smoky Bears led 14-0 early in the second quarter and it was tied 28-28 at the half.
But Kollie and company kept rolling long after Sevier County ran out of gas. Kollie rushed 18 times for 170 yards and five touchdowns and caught two passes for 53 yards and a TD.
Britton, an athletic 6-foot-4, 185-pounder, was 16-of-19 passing for 292 yards. He also ran seven times for 63 yards. And Rucker had seven catches for 114 yards and two TDs on a night when invaluable skill player Brenden Reid was out due to being in contact with someone with Covid.
“We were a pretty well-oiled machine from the second quarter on,” said Crockett Coach Hayden Chandley, who will attempt to secure his second quarterfinals berth in three years with the Pioneers on Friday. “As long as we’ve got 21 and nobody else does, we’ve got a shot. … Mason Britton’s really come on. We’ve been putting in some run stuff specifically for Mason probably the last month of the season. We really wanted to save it as long as we could. We kind of brought a good portion of that out there Friday night. We were able to spread ‘em out, get those linebackers outside the box and hit ‘em up inside with Mason. And he just made probably four or five throws that he’s not been making the last three or four weeks. It’s just really good to see. It couldn’t happen to a better kid.”
Rucker and Isaiah Lang aided Britton’s cause.
“It was probably after the Boone game when the coaches and I were like, ‘How can we get John the ball more?’,” Chandley said. “Because he’s got good speed. He’s a little fella, but he can run. … John’s a good player for us. He’s played well all year on defense. It was good to see him have such a breakout game there on offense. And Isaiah made tough catches there in traffic.”
Crockett’s defense will be challenged by South-Doyle running back Shawn Gary. Duncan is comfortable comparing Gary, a junior, with 2019 Mr. Football Elijah Young, who now plays at Missouri. That’s understandable for Chandley, who also sees some of Daniel Boone’s Brennan Blair in Gary.
“He’s got quickness that we probably haven’t seen all year,” Chandley said. “His quickness reminds you of Blair, but he’s got size that Blair doesn’t have. He’s a big kid and finds the hole. And when there’s not a hole there, he bounces it and usually has quite a bit of success.”
Kollie has 160 carries for 1,461 yards (9.1 ypc) and 24 touchdowns. He has 11 catches for 272 yards and three TDs. And his 96 tackles are 32 more than Brenden Reid, who is second on the team. (Reid will return for Friday’s game.)
Chandley was also pleased with the play of freshman offensive lineman Isaiah Tisor against Sevier County.
“(Tisor) had the best game of his career,” Chandley said. “He was really moving people and it was really good to see. He’s got a bright future for us.”
In the future, Daniel Boone will think of what might have been in 2020. The Trailblazers lost arguably their best player, senior linebacker-running back Devon White, in a week-two win at Greeneville. Still, they lost to defending state champion Elizabethton on a last-minute field goal block and took Tennessee High and Crockett to the wire.
“Devon White was the leader of this group,” Coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “He had a tremendous sophomore year and his junior year was cut short with a thumb injury that knocked him out of the first five games. And then this year he has a leg injury that ended his senior year in week two. He was there for every practice to keep everyone upbeat.”
White and Blair headlined a senior class that left its mark.
“This group has had 30 wins along with the first conference title in school history,” Jenkins said. “It was a special group and most have started or played key roles since their sophomore year. Jake Sipos, Chandler Masters, Matt Masters, Aaron Ford, and Josh Bowman are three-year starters in the offensive or defensive lines. Preston Miller is a three-year starter in the secondary and both Phillip Page and Daniel Matherly are three-year starters at wide receiver.
“Brennan is a four-year starter moving from receiver to running back his junior year. Jackson (Jenkins) was a two-year starter at quarterback who started on the JV team at center as a freshman.”
Blair finished the season with 1,340 rushing yards and ran for 15 TDs. Jenkins passed for 1,216 yards and 10 touchdowns. Page had 512 receiving yards and six TDs.
“This group has had a lot of success,” Jenkins said, “but the biggest thing with this group is how they care for each other. It was a privilege to be able to coach these young men for the past four years and the pure determination that they showed during this (coronavirus) pandemic. It’s a great tribute to them and to our community as a whole.”