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Pioneer Perfection: Crockett relishes latest milestone

Jeff Birchfield • Oct 26, 2018 at 3:57 PM

David Crockett ended its football regular season in style Thursday night.

Quarterback Cade Larkins completed 17 of 29 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Pioneers to a 50-14 rout of Morristown East and finish off the school's first-ever 10-0 regular season.

Micah Robinson was the leading receiver with five catches for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Donta Hackler had six receptions for 56 yards, including a touchdown, and he also had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Ronquille Joyner paced the ground attack by rushing for 126 yards on 18 carries as the Pioneers totaled 514 yards of offense.

On the defensive side, Nathaniel McClanahan finished with 14 tackles, followed by nine tackles by Gage Skalecki, eight for Prince Kollie, seven for Mark Seidler and six for John Kollie. The game didn't start how Crockett would have liked, although first-year head coach Hayden Chandley explained they quickly got it turned around.

"Morristown East took the opening kickoff and took a 17-play drive all the way to their 1-yard line," Chandley said. "We were able to stuff them on 4th-and-1, and our kids then put together a 99-yard drive and scored. Our kids were able to come out and execute the game plan. We asked them before the game how they wanted to be remembered and they played extremely well."

The Pioneers hope to make more history when they open up the playoffs against Halls. The Red Devils will be without former Crockett coach Jeremy Bosken after he was ejected from a game for his role in a scuffle Thursday night at Seymour.

PIONEER LEADERS

Larkins has completed 180 of 283 passes for 3,172 yards and 36 touchdowns against just six interceptions through 10 games.

Hackler has 54 catches for 1,002 yards, including 12 catches for 167 yards in the Boone game. Robinson has 45 catches for 991 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Joyner leads the rushing attack with 129 carries for 791 yards.

Seidler is the defensive leader with 94 tackles, while John Kollie ranks second with 82 tackles. McClanahan has 60 tackles, followed by Prince Kollie with 52 tackles, and Tony Davis and Skalecki each with 46 tackles.

SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

Chandley knew back in the spring that it could be a special season for the Pioneers. He saw a number of players who were athletically gifted and able to make plays.

Crockett started the season with a couple of tough games, a 21-7 win at Seymour, where the Pioneer defense held the Eagles to just 67 rushing yards, then followed it up with a 28-7 win at Campbell County when Larkins threw four second-half touchdowns after a scoreless first half.

"We go into halftime 0-0, but it had been bend-not-break in the first half," Chandley said about the Campbell County game. "Offensively, we couldn't get anything going and only ran 15 or 16 plays in the first half. We were able to get out in the second half and get them down 28-0 before they scored late on us. That game was huge for us."

Crockett continued to roll the next few weeks before facing its toughest challenge in a 24-21 overtime victory over Tennessee High. John Kollie had 19 tackles that game, while placekicker A.J. Boyd, a soccer player who joined the team in July, booted a 27-yard field goal to lift the Pioneers to the victory.

"The first play on offense, they strip the ball and get it," Chandley said. "But our kids never hung their heads and played extremely hard. It showed me a lot about our team, the way they never quit. Some teenagers, when things get tough, they will fold their tents and lay down. Our kids are wired differently. I was so happy for our kids, as that was a huge road win for us."

The Pioneers followed it up with a 34-27 win over Daniel Boone in the historic, sold-out Musket Bowl game that decided the Region 1-5A championship. They were able to contain Trailblazers running back Charlie Cole for the most part except for a 75-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Chandley was proud of how his team's reaction after Boone had rallied to grab a late lead.

"We were up two touchdowns in the final quarter and Boone takes one for 75 (yards) and we throw a pick on the next play where they score and the next thing you know, we're down a point with five minutes to go," Chandley said. "Our kids never blinked an eye and there was never a doubt in our minds. We were able to score with less than three minutes left on the clock and then held them off. I've been so proud for our kids, their effort and never-quit attitude."

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