By TREY WILLIAMS
The David Crockett and Daniel Boone football teams geared up for the playoffs by coasting to victories Friday.
Senior Prince Kollie scored four touchdowns and piled up yardage like a video game in the Pioneers’ 42-30 win at Morristown East. On homecoming at Nathan Hale Stadium, Boone’s defense scored three touchdowns in a 44-14 defeat of Cherokee.
Crockett (8-2) will host Sevier County (5-5) in the first round of the TSSAA playoffs on Friday. Boone (5-4) will visit South-Doyle (7-3).
Crockett concluded the Mountain Lakes Conference with an undefeated record while winning a second league title under third-year coach Hayden Chandley. The Pioneers have other quality players and the lines of scrimmage steadily improved all season, but there were times, like Friday, when Kollie seemed like a one-man band.
Morristown East coach Caleb Slover can understand the excitement of college football programs recruiting the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Kollie, who has committed to Notre Dame.
“You look out there and you know which one he is, for sure,” Slover said. “He’s just a different caliber kid. To me, without a doubt, I think he’s the best kid we’ve played all year.”
Kollie ran for 202 yards and three TDs on 18 carries, had 128 yards and a TD on three receptions and returned an interception 57 yards on East’s opening drive.
“They beat us last year at our place and we remembered that,” Kollie said. “So we definitely weren’t coming out here flat. We had to return the favor, because nobody likes losing. We did a great job as a unit closing the game. …
“The O-line did a great job. They did a great job getting off blocks and moving people. It’s a credit to Tony Davis, (Isaiah) Tisor, Tres Silvers, Damian Vance and Parrish Combs. They did a great job today. I love those guys.”
Kollie also had a long touchdown nullified by a penalty. It might’ve been his most crowd-stunning play.
“How about that one where he cut it all the way back across the field,” a smiling Chandley said. “When we need a play he’s always there to make it. We’re lucky to have 21 on our side.”
Crockett also got a seven-yard TD run on quarterback Mason Britton’s option keeper and a five-yard TD from Brenden Reid, who finished with 81 yards rushing on 11 carries. Reid’s five-yard TD gave the Pioneers a 42-17 lead with 4:21 left in the third quarter.
Britton, a senior first-year starter who had offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder, was eight of 11 passing for 195 yards and a touchdown.
“I’m really proud of the way the offense executed, especially up front,” Chandley said. “Mason, I thought he had his best game that he’s had all year tonight. That’s really good going forward to next week.
“But defensively, we’ve got some things we need to sharpen up.”
Kollie and Chandley each noted the satisfaction of winning eight straight after beginning the season with losses to Ooltewah and Science Hill.
“We started off 0-2,” Kollie said. “Coach Chandley, he’s a winner, and that trickles down to the rest of us. Losing is not fun and that’s not what we want to do. We just got to work after losing to Science Hill. We buckled down, and we just feel like we can beat any team if we play our best.”
Kollie has rushed 142 times for 1,291 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. He also has nine catches for 219 yards and two TDs.
Daniel Boone was without its back-to-back 1,200-yard rusher Brennan Blair against Cherokee (he’ll return Friday), but got three defensive scores. Will Hamlin and Kaleb Worley had interception returns for touchdowns and Anthony Edwards returned a fumble for a TD while helping the Trailblazers build a 35-0 halftime lead.
“We really wanted to send our seniors out on a high note,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “We controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides.”
Jackson Jenkins was 13 of 19 passing for 125 yards. Worley and Phillip Page each had six catches. Hagan Edwards rushed for 73 yards and two TDs on 10 carries.
Boone will return to South-Doyle, where the ‘Blazers season ended in the second round of the playoffs last year.
The Cherokees, coached by Unicoi County alum and former Tennessee Volunteers starting safety Clark Duncan, did at least graduate running back Elijah Young (Missouri) from last year’s team. But they still have plenty of athleticism.
“South-Doyle is an athletic team that runs really well,” Jenkins said. “Offensively they use both the run and the pass effectively. The offensive line has good size, the running back is an explosive player and the quarterback is just a solid player.
“Defensively they run to the ball extremely well, their defensive ends are the playmakers and they love to blitz.”
Blair has carried 221 times for 1,214 yards and 13 TDs this season.