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Dobyns-Bennett reached new heights in 1990s

Douglas Fritz • Apr 9, 2020 at 12:00 PM

Editor’s note: This is the third of a six-part series, honoring the top players in the last 50 years of Dobyns-Bennett High School football. The Times-News All-Decade and All-Half Century teams were chosen by a panel. Each team consists of at least one quarterback, running back, receiver, offensive lineman, defensive lineman, linebacker, and secondary. The other spots can go to any position.

Ted Wilson ushered in the 1990s by leading Dobyns-Bennett to 28 wins and just five losses in his final three years as head coach.

As good as that was, the Indians were headed to bigger and better things as Graham Clark took over the program in 1993. Under Clark, the Indians posted three straight double-digit-win seasons from 1996-98. And in 1998, D-B went 13-1 and made it to the Class 5A state semifinals before losing to eventual champion Murfreesboro Oakland.

THE BIG SEVEN

OL — Aaron Ferguson

RB — Fred Powell

WR — Teddy Gaines

QB — Ryan Wagner

DL — Preston Sensabaugh

LB — Andrew Foerster

DB — Jesse McMillan

TEAMMATES

QB — Josh Dingus

Ath — Justin Quillin

LB — Nick Vaughn

DB — Jeremy Graves

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

Lamont Jones, Matt Rivers, Kai Winton

AARON FERGUSON

Starting on both sides of the ball, Ferguson was a beast in the early 1990s. He was so athletic, he took snaps as the Indians’ Hail Mary quarterback. He went on to earn a selection to the Marshall University Hall of Fame. Starting for four years at guard, he was captain of the 1996 undefeated Division I-AA national championship team.

FRED POWELL

A powerful running back, Powell put it all together in 1996. He led the Indians in rushing and was also the team’s leading tackler at linebacker.

TEDDY GAINES

Big plays were the name of the game for Gaines. One coach said, “He could turn a two-yard gain into 90 yards.” Not only was Gaines quicker than anybody on the field, he could lock down any wide receiver in the state from his cornerback position in the mid-1990s. He later played defensive back on the University of Tennessee’s 1998 national championship team, and played in the NFL with San Francisco and Chicago.

RYAN WAGNER

Leadership was his strong point. A two-year starter, he guided the Indians to their first Big East Conference championship in 1993. In the title-clinching game against Science Hill, he threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass and added the winning score on a run in the final seconds of a dramatic 21-17 come-from-behind win.

PRESTON SENSABAUGH

In 1990, Sensabaugh was the state defensive player of the year. He also started on the offensive line.

ANDREW FOERSTER

He posted the most tackles in a single season in D-B history, racking up 136 stops in 1998.

JESSE McMILLAN

Not only was McMillan a terrific free safety and leader of the defense on the 1998 team, he also rushed for over 1,000 yards that season.

OTHER NOTES

Dingus was a late bloomer, but eventually led D-B to the most single-season wins in school history in 1998. …

Quillin was a blocked-kick master, rerouting six attempts as a senior in 1991. …

Vaughn was arguably Northeast Tennessee’s best linebacker during the 1999 season. …

Overshadowed by Gaines at times, Graves often locked it down at the same level. “Just try to get open against him,” said one coach. …

Jones was the Indians’ leading scorer as a junior, but off-field issues limited him to three games as a senior in 1992. …

Rivers dominated on the offensive line as a junior in 1997, but missed his entire senior season with health issues. …

Winton was a standout nose tackle through the first nine games of his junior year in 1992, but didn’t play after that.

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