If someone had said before the season David Crockett would be the last area football team standing, it would have been difficult to find companions for that way of thinking.
But the Pioneers, who entered the postseason as the only remaining undefeated Class 5A team in the state, stood alone after Friday night’s second-round games. Crockett improved to 12-0 with a resounding pounding of a Tennessee High team that took the Pioneers into overtime in the first meeting this season.
The 32-0 victory moved Crockett into the quarterfinals, where Knox Central awaits. The Bobcats were responsible for knocking off another area team with a 49-7 blowout of Daniel Boone.
Also taking it on the chin were four area teams who had mountains to climb. Science Hill was clubbed by Maryville, Sullivan South couldn’t make a game of it against Greeneville, Unicoi County had no way to match Alcoa, and Elizabethton couldn’t pass the test against Anderson County.
In a different type of matchup, Cloudland held a lead against Coalfield until 23 seconds were left. But the Highlanders fell in a heartbreaker.
Those six losses left the boys from Jonesborough on their own. And in a season where the Pioneers have exploded through unprecedented accomplishments, one after another, they face another step they haven’t taken before: beating a top-level playoff team from Knoxville.
The Hilltoppers will remember the 2018 season as being up and down. They lost to all three of their biggest rivals (Elizabethton, Dobyns-Bennett and Daniel Boone), but came within two points of beating a Class 6A state-quarterfinal team (Knox Farragut) and had a four-game winning streak that pushed them into the second round of the playoffs.
And any time a season ends at the hands of Maryville, there’s a pretty good chance the loss came against the state champion or at least state runner-up.
Six wins and six losses isn’t the standard Science Hill seeks, but there was a lot to like about this team. The Hilltoppers refused to quit, and momentum is in place for 2019.
The win over Science Hill will stick in the Trailblazers’ minds when thinking about this season. Getting a playoff win was a nice accomplishment as well.
What will sting is the loss to David Crockett, a 34-27 heartbreaker that is part of the fuel for the Pioneers’ still-moving season.
Knox Central simply had too much for Boone, but a 9-3 record is impressive and a reason for this bunch to smile.
The Cyclones found out Anderson County was not only as good as last year, but also physically tougher. This would have been a very difficult chore even without an injury to senior quarterback Carter Everett.
But the 54-21 setback didn’t take the luster off the Cyclones’ season. They defeated rival Science Hill, punished Daniel Boone, and whipped Tennessee High. And it was yet another 10-win season.
But perhaps most importantly, the Cyclones pushed defending Class 4A state champion Greeneville deep into the second half for the second straight season. Elizabethton can make an argument it was the third-best team in the state.
When the only losses are against really good teams, there’s no reason to feel badly about an eight-win season.
And two of the Rebels’ losses came against the defending and expected repeat state champion, Greeneville.
South shaved a few points off the margin in the rematch with the Greene Devils, but didn’t have enough horses to make it a game either time.
It was one of the best seasons in school history, and the 56-0 loss to likely state champion Alcoa won’t change that.
The Blue Devils will hang their hats on nine wins and their first playoff victory in 33 years — along with the superb season by running back Kody Lewis and the standout coaching job by Drew Rice.
The Highlanders had a very good season, but the final game will likely make it hard to feel good about things.
It wasn’t just the way they lost the 29-24 decision to Coalfield, it was more that they finally had the Yellow Jackets on the ropes but didn’t finish them off. It was the fifth straight season-ending loss for Cloudland at the hands of Coalfield.
However, Cloudland earned wins over Happy Valley and Hampton, and a captured a playoff victory against Midway.