By TREY WILLIAMS
Although David Crockett coach Hayden Chandley has said he won’t believe Charlie Cole isn’t playing until he sees him on the sidelines without shoulder pads Friday night, Daniel Boone’s Musket Bowl chances aren’t expected to get a shot in the arm from Charlie Cole.
The star running back, who has committed to Army, had hoped to return from an arm injury when the Trailblazers host the Pioneers in the Washington County rivals’ 49th meeting on Friday.
But Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said on Monday that it appears the best-case scenario for Cole’s return would be the first round of the playoffs.
Boone (3-1, 4-4) extended its winning streak to three games with a 30-13 victory at Cocke County on Friday. Crockett’s chance at a second straight Mountain Lakes Conference title took a major hit when it lost at home to Tennessee High, 28-21.
Daniel Boone’s Brennan Blair, who converted from receiver to running back after Cole was injured in week two against Greeneville, ran 20 times for 225 yards and a touchdown at Cocke County. It was his third straight game with at least 100 yards rushing.
“Brennan is playing hard and getting positive yards,” said Jenkins, who lauded the play of his offensive and defensive lines. “The three-game wins streak starts up front on both sides of the ball.”
Boone’s quarterbacks, Kaleb Worley and Jackson Jenkins, have steadily improved. Jenkins threw a pair of TD passes to Phillip Page against the Fighting Cocks. Worley ran for a 9-yard score.
“Both quarterbacks are playing really well,” Jenkins said. “Kaleb’s a good athlete and can hurt you with his arm or feet. Jackson has a really good pocket presence. He gets the ball out quick and makes good decisions.”
Of course, Crockett will have the advantage at quarterback. Pioneers senior Cade Larkins went over the 10,000-yard plateau for career passing yards on Friday. Jenkins couldn’t think of a quarterback that he’d coached against other than perhaps Curt Phillips (Sullivan South) that’s been as impressive as Larkins.
“Cade may have the best pocket presence I’ve seen,” Jenkins said. “And he’s got such a quick release and he’s got athletes everywhere to get the ball to. And Ronquille Joyner is a quality back.”
Crockett was held to 15 yards rushing against Tennessee High. The Vikings won the line of scrimmage, perhaps the most telltale sign of which team took the field at Crockett on Friday with more desire for victory.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot of learning to do from this, growing up,” Chandley said. “You know, kids got a little bit complacent, beating their chest a little too much. Hopefully this knocks us down a notch and brings us back down to earth a little bit, and we realize that we can’t just show up on a Friday night and beat a good, quality football team.
“Tennessee High came in and wanted it more than we did. Our hope is that we learn from this and get better because of it. Hopefully, we can come out Friday night with our hair on fire.”
Larkins has passed for 1,921 yards, 28 TDs and three interceptions this season. Prince Kollie had seven catches for 105 yards, including a 43-yard TD reception, and made numerous big plays on defense, including recovering a Vikings fumble. Donta Hackler had four catches for 117 yards. His 89-yard TD catch on third-and-19 helped tie the score at 21 in the third quarter. Larkins was flushed from the pocket, but took a few steps forward before lofting a long pass that hit Hackler in stride up the right sideline.
Crockett lost linebacker-tight end Johnny Loyd to a season-ending hand injury in the second quarter against Tennessee High. He’d made a tackle for loss when Tennessee High went for fourth-and-one on its side of the field in the first quarter.
“That son of a gun had really started coming on the last few games,” Chandley said. “He had five tackles in about a quarter and a half.”
Crockett was also without defensive end-right tackle Caleb Hackler on Friday due to his ejection at Cherokee. Chandley’s happy he’ll be back for the Musket Bowl. Hackler’s pass protection was sorely missed against the Vikings.
“Not only pass protection, but you’re talking about a kid that led us in sacks, leads us in tackles for loss and was top five in the team on tackles,” Chandley said. “You can’t replace his motor. I don’t want to take credit away from them (the Vikings). They wanted it more than we did. They just flat smacked us in the mouth. But not having Caleb definitely hurt us Friday night.”