Entering the District 1-AAA tournament as the No. 3 seed, Dobyns-Bennett completed a run to the tournament title on Thursday with a 4-0 victory over top seed Tennessee High in the finals at Indian Highland Park.
The Indians (17-1-1) defeated their three opponents in the tournament — David Crockett, Science Hill and THS — by a combined margin of 18-0.
“Maybe we should be a No. 3 seed from now on,” quipped Indians coach Blake Rutherford, who claimed his first district boys title since becoming head coach.
“We always believed in ourselves,” Tribe keeper A.J. Robbins said. “The No. 3 seed was just a number to us.”
The game started in a steady rain that became a driving downpour, but the skies cleared by the second half and so did the Tribe’s path to the goal. Steven McKinney delivered the first goal in the 60th minute, taking advantage of a one-on-one opportunity and a miscue at the back end of the Viking defense and knocking it into the net.
McKinney was hoping to gain a clear path through a feint, but when the header back to Vikings goalie Spencer Pruner fell off the mark, McKinney saw his chance.
“As soon as the ball bounced on the ground, I knew I was going to get to it first,” said McKinney, named tournament MVP after delivering the game-winning goals against both Tennessee High and Science Hill.
Seven minutes later, Drew Miller all but guaranteed a D-B victory, striking home a header off the assist by Eli Click.
The Vikings (8-3-1) never recovered.
“Once that second goal went in, heads were down. The writing was kind of on the wall,” THS coach Mark Quickel said.
Jordan Broadwater scored in the 74th minute off an assist by Luke Heard, and Heard tallied in the 77th with Broadwater dishing the assist.
“They played well. I was a little worried about how they would be off the Science Hill victory,” Rutherford said. “Once we got the first one, it felt like it kind of snowballed from there.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do. It takes nine wins to win a [state] championship. We’ve got three. We’ve got six more to go if we want to get somewhere.”
Both teams will keep playing in next week’s regional tournament, but D-B earns the right to host its semifinal, thanks to this result. If South-Doyle loses today’s District 2 final to Sevier County, then the Indians host South-Doyle Monday. If Sevier County is the District 2 runner-up, the Smoky Bears travel to Kingsport on Tuesday.
Either way, Rutherford made his prediction regarding the region final.
“I told Mark coming to the line, there was no doubt in my mind that we’ll see them next Thursday,” Rutherford said.