“This is the third year in a row we’ve hosted the first round, and our players have given us this opportunity,” said Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins. “We have to take advantage of it.”
The Trailblazers will host Knox Halls in the first round of the TSSAA Class 5A playoffs Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Boone has a five-game winning streak while Halls bounced back with two wins after a three-game losing skid.
Knox Halls (7-3) at Daniel Boone (6-4)
One of the key players for the Red Devils is Jake Parris. The senior running back is coming off a five-touchdown performance in the Week 11 win over Seymour. He scored 12 times over the last three weeks of the regular season.
“They are a multiple offensive team with very good skill players,” said Jenkins. “They have one of the top backs in Region 2 as well.”
Jenkins, whose team has ridden the breakout performances of junior running back Brennan Blair, will have to contend with an aggressive defense.
“They like to blitz,” said Jenkins. “But our team is playing with a lot of confidence on both sides of the ball.”
David Crockett (7-3) at Knox Central (8-2)
When the Pioneers last saw the Bobcats, the stakes were a little higher.
But Crockett coach Hayden Chandley said this year’s matchup isn’t the same as the quarterfinal meeting.
“This is a new year in many ways,” said Chandley. “They are a different team as are we.”
Central is paced by quarterback Dakota Fawver, who has thrown for 1,837 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season. Jason Merritts leads the ground attack with 676 yards and seven scores.
“They run the football well and do that to set up their play action,” said Chandley. “Their quarterback does a good job maneuvering in the pocket and finding the open guy. He’s got a great arm. Defensively they give a variety of looks and keep you on your toes.”
Linebacker Kalib Fortner has 89 tackles, 18 for loss, with eight sacks.
For the Pioneers, senior quarterback Cade Larkins needs 249 yards to become the all-time leading passer in Tennessee history. His career total stands at 10,874.
Cherokee (6-4) at South-Doyle (7-3)
Elijah Young, a Mr. Football candidate, is a 5-foot-9, 175-pound all-purpose back who has committed to Missouri.
The Chiefs will have to deal with his 4.5 speed in the 40. He’s ranked as the No. 7 all-purpose back in the state. Young is coming off a tough game, however. He was held to 57 yards rushing in a 15-12 loss to No. 2-ranked Powell.
Cherokee counters with standout quarterback Collin Trent, who has totaled 1,790 yards of offense with 25 touchdowns this season.
Gibbs (7-3) at Tennessee High (9-1)
The Eagles should have the Vikings’ attention.
Gibbs running back/lineman Ethan Humphries caused Knox Central all kinds of problems in last week’s upset win. A few weeks earlier, Humphries rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Sevier County.
Tennessee High, which enters with a nine-game winning streak, counters with quarterback Cole McBrayer.