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Surprises on gridiron shake up projected postseason pairings

Douglas Fritz • Oct 29, 2019 at 12:30 PM

Things changed in a big way for the football postseason outlook after some surprising outcomes Friday.

Here’s a look at the current playoff projections for each of the area’s six classifications.

Class 6A

Science Hill controls its own destiny for the top spot in Region 1.

Projected pairings

Ooltewah at Science Hill

McMinn County at Dobyns-Bennett

Farragut at Bradley Central

Bearden at Maryville

Class 5A

South-Doyle earned the No. 1 seed in Region 2 with a blistering 38-10 win over defending state champion Knox Central.

Projected pairings

Gibbs at Tennessee High

Knox Halls at Daniel Boone

David Crockett at Knox Central

Cherokee at South-Doyle

Class 4A

Everything stayed the same from last week.

Projected pairings

East Ridge at Elizabethton

Howard at Greeneville

Sullivan South at East Hamilton

Grainger at Anderson County

Class 3A

Unicoi County and Johnson County could flip spots in Region 1 while Pittman and Kingston could do the same in Region 2.

Projected pairings

Kingston at Chuckey-Doak

Gatlinburg-Pittman at Unicoi County

Johnson County at Austin-East

West Greene at Alcoa

Class 2A

There is still plenty to be decided in Region 1. Happy Valley could either be No. 1 or fall all the way to No. 4. Rockwood and Cumberland Gap could flip spots in Region 2.

Projected pairings

Cumberland Gap at Happy Valley

Rockwood at Hampton

South Greene at Oneida

Sullivan North at Meigs County

Class 1A

These matchups are locked in place.

Projected pairings

Harriman at Cloudland

Coalfield at Hancock County

Jellico at Oliver Springs

Unaka at Greenback


Cade Larkins continued his assault on the record books in David Crockett’s 28-20 loss to Daniel Boone on Friday.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior passed for 323 yards, moving his career total to 10,607. That put him in fourth place on Tennessee’s all-time list.

Larkins received a 180-yard boost prior to Friday’s game when the season opener against Ooltewah was ruled a completed contest and the statistics were counted. He is 516 yards away from breaking Kyle Akin’s record.

Larkins has one regular season game remaining and at least one postseason game if the Pioneers win Friday or Cherokee loses to Boone.

As for the all-time national rankings, Larkins moved up to the No. 32 spot.

Larkins added one touchdown pass to move his career total to 101. He remained at No. 7 on the state’s all-time list.


With three made field goals against Dobyns-Bennett, Science Hill junior kicker Kade Hensley is within range of state recognition.

Hensley has connected on 10 of 13 attempts this year. Only six kickers are listed in the TSSAA record book for double-digit made field goals in a single season. Germantown’s Courtney Leavitt (1994) is No. 6 with 13.


Science Hill drew Maryville for its first-round game in the Class AAA tournament, but the Lady Hilltoppers will have to wait a while for the quarterfinal contest.

Heavy rains in the Murfreesboro area caused poor field conditions at Richard Siegel Soccer Complex, and more rain is forecast for the middle of this week. So the TSSAA pushed the event to next week.

The Lady Hilltoppers (19-3-1) will play the Rebels (17-3-3) on Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m. The semifinals are set for Nov. 7, and the Nov. 8 championship is scheduled to begin at noon.


It could be a dandy spring for area high school baseball.

University High junior Kaleb Meredith became the fourth area player to commit to a Power Five school when the left-hander pitcher verbally committed to Tennessee.

Meredith joined Elizabethton’s Evan Carter, who has committed to Duke and will sign with the Blue Devils in November. Also, Science Hill’s Caleb Marmo is committed to Wake Forest and Daniel Boone’s Cade Elliott is committed to Tennessee.


Coverage-area teams receiving votes from the Times News/Johnson City Press in this week’s Associated Press state football poll, along with the No. 1 selection. (Coverage area is Sullivan, Washington, Carter, Unicoi, Johnson and Hawkins counties):

Class 6A — Oakland (No. 1), Dobyns-Bennett (No. 9)

Class 5A — Beech (No. 1), Tennessee High (No. 4)

Class 4A — Elizabethton (No. 1)

Class 3A — Alcoa (No. 1)

Class 2A — Peabody (No. 1), Hampton (No. 5)

Class 1A — South Pittsburg (No. 1)


Early season results weren’t enough to prevent a major shakeup for this week’s rankings.

Dobyns-Bennett defeated Tennessee High in Week 1, but the Vikings have won eight in a row while the Indians were knocked off by Science Hill last week. The Hilltoppers’ record is reflective of playing a tougher schedule than D-B, so they moved ahead of the Indians with their win despite four more losses on the year.

Team W-L Prv
1. Elizabethton 9-0 1
2. Tennessee High 8-1 3
3. Science Hill 4-5 5
4. Dobyns-Bennett 8-1 2
5. David Crockett 7-2 4
6. Sullivan South 5-4 7
7. Cherokee 6-3 6
8. Hampton 7-2 9
9. Unicoi County 5-4 8
10. Happy Valley 7-2 10


Bearden at Science Hill — Looking at the Bulldogs’ body of work, this isn’t an easy step for the Hilltoppers. Bearden started the year 0-5, but those games were against teams with a current combined record of 40-5 — and of those five losses, two were inflicted by Maryville.

Dobyns-Bennett at Alcoa — This game takes on added importance for the Indians, who will try to avoid moving into the playoffs with a two-game losing streak.

Daniel Boone at Cherokee — Jeremy Jenkins will be the latest head coach who tries to solve this riddle: What do you do the week after upsetting your biggest rival?

Morristown East at David Crockett — Two excruciatingly tough losses have left the Pioneers at a crossroads. Does this team bounce back, reach the playoffs, and finish strong?

Sullivan South at Tennessee High — The Rebels proved they can come close against a very good team like Elizabethton. Can they close the deal against the Vikings?

Unicoi County at Johnson County — It’s a battle for second place, but that means a lot — as in a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Happy Valley at South Greene — It’s an odd situation where two teams are tied for first, but only one of them is guaranteed the top spot in the region with a win. A Happy Valley win gives it the No. 1 seed, but a South Greene win likely produces only a No. 2 seed as long as Hampton takes care of business against Cosby.


Daniel Boone 28, Cherokee 21

The Trailblazers are eating up a lot of yardage on the ground, but can still get things done through air. And the combination should be tough for the Chiefs to handle.

Picks record: 6-4.


5-star — Cameron Johnson, RB/LB, Volunteer

It was quite a night for the Falcons’ junior running back and linebacker.

Offensively, Johnson broke through Unicoi County for 248 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the 40-28 win. On defense, Johnson was all over the place with 10 tackles — two for loss — an interception, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

4-star — Kade Hensley, PK, Science Hill

Knocking off rival, and previously unbeaten Dobyns-Bennett, the junior was a difference-maker in the 23-17 decision. He made three field goals, including one from 50 yards and one from 48.

3-star — Brennan Blair, RB, Daniel Boone

Fueling the 28-20 upset of rival David Crockett, the junior exploded for 199 yards on 17 carries with touchdown runs of 3, 32, 33 and the eventual game-winner from 53 yards in the fourth quarter.

2-star — Carson Stresemann, LB, Elizabethton

With the No. 1-ranked Cyclones facing the prospect of overtime, the senior burst through the line and blocked the extra-point attempt to preserve a 14-13 win. He also had six tackles.

1-star — Connor Batchelder, QB, Science Hill

The Hilltoppers defeated rival Dobyns-Bennett 23-17 and the senior had a big hand in it with 204 yards passing and a touchdown. He hit on 20 of 32 attempts.


Daniel Boone Trailblazers

On a rainy night in Gray, the Trail Hogs nuzzled into the mud and rooted out David Crockett in a 28-20 win. Boone found running room all night long, and the offensive line consistently created big holes — including one that allowed a burst right up the gut for Brennan Blair as he produced the eventual game-winning fourth-quarter score.


Cloudland Highlanders

Against a Johnson County team that scored 45 points the week before, the Highlanders’ defense did their best 2000 Baltimore Ravens impersonation.

Forcing three turnovers, it was a dominating performance in a 46-0 win.