By TREY WILLIAMS
Lightning officially delayed the start of David Crockett’s football season Friday, but Charlie Cole-led Daniel Boone charged to a season-opening win against Sullivan South.
Cole, a senior that’s committed to Army, rushed 23 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the Trailblazers’ 30-6 defeat of a physically imposing Sullivan South.
Crockett led Ooltewah 19-16 when a lengthy lightning delay forced the game to be suspended. Barring playoff implications, it won’t be completed.
Daniel Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins knew he’d get a complete performance from Cole. However, a defense that graduated eight starters last season and lost middle linebacker Devon White (thumb) this summer for at least the opener offered plenty of uncertainty against a South team with a big offensive line and a proven running back.
“Their offensive line scared us because of their size, and we’re not real big up front on defense and had nine new starters over there,” Jenkins said. ‘We didn’t know what to expect with them making their first start. But I thought our kids played really hard and made some plays when they had to.
“I thought Jacob Bradley really played well at defensive tackle. Will Hamlin, a sophomore, making his first start at defensive end – I thought he played extremely well for us as well. And one of our defensive backs, Daniel Lusk, led us in tackles with 10. He played some last year in our nickel situation and came in late in the year when Joe (Jones) got hurt. But it was his first start to start the season. And Austin Cunningham played well flying around.”
Cole was an asset with the football whether he was toting it or booting it.
“Punting may have been the biggest thing for us,” Jenkins said. “Charlie got ‘em down there inside the 10 twice. One time, the next play was a bad snap and we recovered it for a touchdown.”
Cole’s productive night from the backfield came despite the big Rebels defense focused on him, especially with Boone sophomore quarterback Kaleb Worley making his first start. Worley did make some crucial runs to extend drives and designed plays.
“They were really keying on Charlie, and we knew that,” Jenkins said. “The quarterback draw was good to us. I thought he (Worley) played well and handled it pretty good.”
Boone will host defending state champion Greeneville on Friday.
“Offensively, we’ve gotta get better in a lot of places,” Jenkins said. “South was really big and physical up front, and they gave us some trouble a little bit early on. But we know we’ve got a whole ‘nother animal this week with Greeneville, because they really pride themselves on being physical and dominant and trying to be the most physical team out there. You’ve gotta match that physicality with them. And we know they’re gonna come in here really hungry coming off a loss to Knox Powell.”
Cole and Greeneville linebacker-running back Ty Youngblood are both physical, downhill players. It could cause quite a ruckus if they meet in the hole.
“It’d probably sound like a landmine going off,” said Jenkins, who noted having a lot of respect for first-year Greeneville coach Dan Hammonds and his staff.
Greeneville opened the season with a 19-17 loss at Knox Powell on Thursday. It snapped the two-time defending state champions’ 30-game wins streak.
“We’re excited to play against Greeneville,” Jenkins said. “The defending state champion coming in, you don’t have that very often and we know there’s gonna be a good crowd in Gray with two quality teams getting after each other. We know we’re gonna have to tackle a whole lot better. They’ve got athletes all over the field. We’ve gotta do a good job of tackling in space.”
Crockett’s Ronquille Joyner rushed for a 2-yard TD to give the Pioneers their 19-16 lead in the third quarter.
Pioneers senior Cade Larkins was 16-of-21 passing for 180 yards, one TD and two interceptions. He was pressured early and often, and had to leave the game a couple of plays after driving the Pioneers to the 13-yard line on the scoring march Joyner capped. Larkins engineered a 99-yard drive that Donta Hackler capped with a 28-yard TD catch.
“After we scored our first touchdown, we kick it off to them and force a punt,” Crockett coach Hayden Chandley said. “Then they pin us deep there late in the second quarter with about five minutes to go and we put together a 99-yard drive, and that sequence of score, stop, score, was huge.
“They came out the first drive of the second half and just ran it down our throat and punched it in and only took about three minutes to do it. We responded with an 80-yard drive where we converted three third downs, and two of which were third-and-12. Cade leads us down the field then took a shot on our sideline and had to come out. That kind of rallied our guys.
“Mason (Britton) came in and did a good job. First play we rattle off a 12-yard run to get us down to the 1-yard line. I was really pleased with how we responded to our captain going down like that.”
Hackler finished with six catches for 76 yards. Prince Kollie also had six receptions (47 yards) and Eric Dunbar caught three passes for 48 yards.
Brendan Reid rushed for a 39-yard TD.
“Ooltewah is a really solid football team,” Chandley said. “They were huge up front and I think we will be hard pressed to play anyone this year with a bigger offensive line than they had. Their running back was a good, strong runner and their defensive backs were solid. They will win their fair share of games this season.”
Kollie and Reid led the way with 11 and nine tackles, respectively, for the Pioneers, who host Science Hill on Friday. Chandley said Crockett will have to figure out how to contain Chris Thomas, who rushed for 215 yards in the Hilltoppers’ 28-20 loss to Elizabethton on Friday.