By TREY WILLIAMS
Friday night lights won’t eclipse the darkness hanging over David Crockett this week.
The Pioneers football team will host Tennessee High on Friday – six days after the deaths of veteran radio broadcaster Tim Cable and 16-year-old Tennessee High player Micah Montgomery.
Cable, the play-by-play man for Crockett and Daniel Boone, died after a monthlong battle with COVID-19. Montgomery drowned in South Holston Lake two days after rushing for 96 yards, including a 67- yard touchdown, in the Vikings’ 33-31 win against Gibbs on Friday.
“I got a text from one of my players who was good friends with the young man yesterday and I just got a sick feeling to my stomach,” Crockett coach Hayden Chandley said. “It’s just hard to find words – to put into words exactly what’s happened. … I couldn’t imagine what those guys in that community and that entire team are having to go through. We want to let them know we’re praying and thinking about them.”
Chandley’s also been thinking quite a bit about Cable. He quickly became fond of Cable after taking the Crockett job in 2018 – a season which began with a school-record 12 victories and didn’t end until a hard-fought quarterfinal loss on the road against eventual state champion Knox Central.
“One of the cool memories I have with Tim is that during that memorable 2018 season we had, he made copies of every game that he called for all of the coaching staff for that year,” Chandley said. “He gave ‘em to us and we’d go back and listen to ‘em. I’ll never forget the Cocke County game when we go down and score late in the game. It was a big-time game – I think they were 4-1 and we were 5-0 – and we score and you could hear our coaches, who were in the booth right beside Tim on the call. They’re shouting and screaming and Tim made it a point to point out that the Crockett coaches were going nuts.
“He just always put a smile on your face when you heard his voice. He meant so much to not only the Jonesborough community, but the Gray community as well. Nobody will ever replace Tim Cable. He’ll surely be missed.”
Cable also did Crockett and Boone basketball games. Chandley was an assistant basketball coach his first season at Crockett in 2018-19.
“The first year I was at Crockett I was also an assistant for John Good,” Chandley said. “Me and Lauren got married that December right after football season. I’ll never forget, the first game after we got married – Tim always did the pregame with John too, and he called me out there and it was kind of a duo interview. He asked me about married life. He made it a point to the let the listeners know we were newlyweds. He always made it a point to make you feel special.”
Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins recalled listening to Cable do Elizabethton basketball games for WBEJ when Jenkins’ uncle played for Hampton in the early ‘80s. Nearly 40 years later, Cable was at Boone’s media day last month with every intention of broadcasting another year of Boone and Crockett football.
“He did a great job interviewing wise and I always had a lot of respect for Tim,” Jenkins said. “He did a really good job for us. We hate this more than anything. We’re praying for his wife and his daughter. It’s just a sad time.
“He talked to us media day, and he was down in his back, but he was there. He came in and talked to me. And it was later on that day or the next day that he got really sick.”
Jenkins said he’d been doing interviews with Cable the better part of the past 10 years – since Jeremy Bosken was the head coach at Crockett.
“We used to go to that sandwich shop there in Jonesborough and do interviews on Thursday afternoons,” Jenkins said. “Tim was great to work with.”
Jenkins’ Trailblazers suffered their second hard-fought loss in as many years to Elizabethton on Friday. Boone was 27 yards from tying the score with a first-and-10 late in the game. But ultimately the Trailblazers fell, 20-13.
“We had the ball on the 27, first-and-10 with about four minutes to go down seven,” Jenkins said. “We felt really good. We just had a couple of penalties that hurt us. Sometimes that’s gonna happen and we just couldn’t overcome it.
“Our kids played with great effort and we did a lot of good things. Both our quarterbacks (Luke Jenkins, Aiden Riner) played well. (Landon) Kirkpatrick had over a hundred yards receiving. He’s getting better and better. That’s the thing about a lot of our kids playing – they’re gonna get better and better.”
Jenkins was especially pleased with the defense’s performance.
“Hagan Edwards had 13 tackles, eight assists and four tackles for loss,” Jenkins said, “and our other linebacker, Henry Hamlin, I believe had 11 tackles and two assists and two tackles for loss. Those two really played well for us. Our two ends, Will Hamlin and Luke Scott, have been really consistent for us in there as well.”
Kirkpatrick seems to get better each week.
“I thought we grew up a lot, especially at receiver, making some tough catches,” Jenkins said. “And both of our quarterbacks – being sophomores in a hostile environment with a lot of people – both our quarterbacks played well and made some throws and did some stuff with their legs. Hopefully, we can build on a couple of things and get better and better and become the team we want to be by the end of the year.
“We had a lot of good things happen. We just couldn’t make that big play when we had to. But we can’t doubt our effort. If we get that kind of effort night in and night out we’re gonna be in every game that we play.”
Boone (2-2, 1-0) will visit Morristown West in a Region 1-5A matchup Friday.
“We’re excited about coming back this week and getting ready to go on the road again for the fourth time and play a Morristown West team that’s 2-2 and 0-1 in the conference,” Jenkins said. “I know we’re gonna get their best effort. We’ve gotta come out and really try to establish the line of scrimmage if we’re gonna do what we want to do.”
Crockett will try to bounce back from a 42-14 loss at Dobyns-Bennett.
“Our kids really battled,” Chandley said. “The score’s a little bit misleading. It was 14-7 at the half and it’s a 14-point game going into the fourth quarter. Our kids fought tooth and nail. We just couldn’t get in a rhythm on offense. Up front, they really disrupted what we were trying to do.
“Defensively, I thought we played lights out. We were able to force four turnovers. They had one run of about 40 yards, and besides that we limited them to about three yards a carry. So, I thought we played the run exceptionally well.”
As much as he might’ve regretted having to agree, Chandley conceded that depth was a factor.
“I’m not one to make excuses, but we’re going from offense to defense and seven guys are staying on the field,” Chandley said. “And they’re sending 11 new ones on. That was a big factor. I thought they wore us down a little bit in the second half. I was really proud of the way we played ‘em and hung tough.”
Chandley sees a lot of similarity in Tennessee High under first-year head coach Matt Chandler to the way it played under his predecessor, Mike Mays.
“They want to run the ball,” Chandley said, “although the quarterback – the (Steven) Johnson kid – also throws the ball really well. And he gets outside the pocket and can make some plays with his feet as well.”
Levon Montgomery is a weapon, too.
“One play he’s at tailback, the next play he’s at receiver and the next play he’s a fullback,” Chandley said. “They move a lot of guys around. You’ve gotta fi gure out who they’re putting where. They don’t have to sub to get a bunch of different formations. That makes it tough for us defensively.”
Of course, just walking on the field will be tough for the Vikings. Such a tragedy tends to either make a team play perhaps its best game of the year or produces an emotional no-show.
“That’s a tight-knit group over in Bristol and we fully expect them to rally around the guys that are there,” Chandley said. “We know his brother (Levon) is a part of that team as well. We expect them to be extremely inspired wanting to play for Micah and honoring him in that way. But once again, we just feel extremely sorry for them and what they’re having to go through.”
Crockett athletic director Josh Kite said Montgomery and Cable will be honored at Friday’s game. The field will be painted and there will be a moment of silence and a prayer 30 minutes prior to kickoff.