East Tennessee High School Football

Top 5 Mr. Football Candidates Going Into 2021

It's never too early to start talking about Mr. Football awards, so here are my top 5 Mr. Football contenders in each class for the 2021 season. 6A Jordan James, RB, Oakland Reason: James was an All-State running back last season, and really found his groove towards the end of the season, before winning state championship MVP. Destin Wade, QB, Summit Reason: Wade was a 5A Mr. Football finalist last season, and should be able to carry over that success in 6A. Isaiah Horton, WR/DB, Oakland Reason: Horton is a problem on both sides of the ball, and being elite both ways goes a long way towards Mr. Football. Carson Jones, QB, Maryville Reason: Jones was named all-state last season by the TNFCA, and will be heavily relied on by one of the state's best programs. Chris Parson, QB, Ravenwood Reason: Parson will most likely be the guy for a high-powered Ravenwood offense, in which he will thrive. 5A Jordyn Potts, QB, Powell Reason: Potts was a Mr. Football semifinalist last year, and should increase his production, along with having a better team in 2021. De’Sean Bishop, RB, Karns Reason: Bishop was a star for Karns in 2020, and was a consensus all-state pick as a sophomore. Ryan Damron, QB, Henry County Reason: Damron is a dynamic passer, who will put up big numbers for a team who will compete for a state title in Henry County. Shannon Blair, WR/DB, Knoxville West Reason: Blair is dynamic on both sides of the ball for West, and will be the key factor for a West team that will be state title contenders. Samson Johnson, RB, Nolensville Reason: Johnson was the workhorse for Nolensville last season, and his usage and production will only go up in 2021. 4A Bryson Rollins, QB, Elizabethton Reason: Rollins was a Mr. Football finalist last season, and has two state championships under his belt already. He is the easy favorite in 4A for 2021. Anthony Brown, WR/DB, Milan Reason: Brown was a Mr. Football finalist last year in 3A, as he led Milan to a state championship appearance. Shawn Gary, RB, South Doyle Reason: Gary had a monster season last year for the Cherokees, as he led them to a 5A semifinal appearance. Kaydin Pope, WR/DB, Hardin County Reason: Pope was one of the best receivers in the state last season, and is my pick to lead the state in receiving yards next year. Isiah McClaine, RB, Lexington Reason: McClaine was one of the state’s biggest breakout players, and carried Lexington all the way to the state semifinals last season. 3A Caden Buckles, QB, Alcoa Reason: Buckles was the state championship game MVP last season for Alcoa, and will get a full season at quarterback this year. Will Page, QB, Stewart County Reason: Page was an all-state quarterback last season, and will be one of the favorites for Mr. Football if he can improve his numbers at all. Keaton Harig, QB, Loudon Reason: Harig will most likely see his statistical production increase from an all-state caliber season in 2020 for a top 3A program. Jacob Dooley, QB, Waverly Reason: Dooley had over 2,000 total yards in 2020, and if Dooley can match or improve upon that production, he will definitely be a Mr. Football contender in 2021. D’Arco Perkins-McCallister, DB/WR, Stratford Reason: Perkins-McCallister has picked up several power five offers over the offseason, and will be a do-it-all athlete for Stratford in 2021. 2A Ty Simpson, QB, Westview Reason: Simpson is one of the top recruits in the state, and was a Mr. Football semifinalist in 3A last season. Luke Myers, QB, South Greene Reason: Myers was a Mr. Football finalist last season for a very good South Greene program. Taylor Groves, WR/DB, East Robertson Reason: Groves is committed to Michigan, and will be a do-it-all athlete for East Robertson in 2021. Cameron Miller, WR/DB, MAHS Reason: Miller is a four star recruit, and will play in multiple different roles for a MAHS team that will be very good in 2021. Logan Carroll, QB, Meigs County Reason: Carroll lead Meigs County to a state title in 2020, and will see his usage go up even more in 2021. 1A Khalik Ganaway, RB, Peabody Reason: Ganaway won Mr. Football in 2A last season, so he is a clear favorite in 1A for the 2021 season. KJ Jackson, RB, Fayetteville Reason: Jackson ran for 1,000+ yards last season as a freshman, and really broke out in the state championship game for Fayetteville, winning MVP honors. Deandre Kelly, RB, South Pittsburg Reason: Kelly battled injuries last season, but has the potential to be a very solid replacement for Hunter Frame in 2021. Emmett Hegland, QB, Midway Reason: Hegland threw for over 2,500 yards in 2020, and will definitely be in the Mr. Football conversation if he improves on that production in 2021. Gio Davis, DL, South Pittsburg Reason: Davis has picked up several power five offers through the offseason, and will put up monster stats for a defensive lineman in 2021. DII-AAA Dallan Hayden, RB, Chrisitan Brothers Reason: Hayden won Mr. Football in 2020, and will probably not see any kind of dip in production in 2021. Marcel Reed, QB, MBA Reason: Reed has been the starting quarterback for MBA since his freshman season, and will put up monster numbers in 2021. Kaden Martin, QB, Knoxville Catholic Reason: Martin should put big numbers for a Catholic team that will contend for a state title in 2021. Kenny Minchey, QB, JP2 Reason: Minchey broke out for JP2 last season, and will put up big numbers in his first full season in 2021. Walter Nolen, DL, SBA Reason: Nolen is a consensus five star prospect, and will be dominant on the defensive line for SBA in 2021. DII-AA Alex Broome, RB, Lipscomb Academy Reason: Broome was a Mr. Football semifinalist last season, even after missing several games due to transfer rules. Langston Patterson, RB/LB, CPA Reason: Patterson was a Mr. Football finalist last season for CPA, and is a star on both sides of the ball. James Dunn, RB, CAK Reason: Dunn was a Mr. Football finalist last season, and will only see his offensive production go up in 2021. Cade Law, QB, CPA Reason: Law was the state championship game MVP for CPA last season, after leading the Lions to a state title. Luther Richesson, QB, Lipscomb Academy Reason: Richesson really got hot towards the end of the season for Lipscomb Academy in 2020, and will look to continue that success into 2021. DII-A Nakelin McAfee, RB, TKA Reason: McAfee was a Mr. Football semifinalist in 2020, and will be the star of TKA’s offense once again in 2021. Steele Haynes, WR/LB, USJ Reason: Haynes had 92 tackles, along with 871 receiving yards in 2020, and will continue to be a force on both sides of the ball for USJ in 2021. Garrett Weekly, QB/DB, TKA Reason: Weekly filled in very well at quarterback for TKA last season, to go along with seven interceptions on the defensive side of the ball. Aden Hooper, QB, MTCS Reason: Hooper was named to the all-state team by the TNFCA last season, and should see his production increase in 2021. Kam Boyd, RB, JCS Reason: Boyd will see his production and usage skyrocket in 2021, as JCS will most likely run the ball more with the graduation of star quarterback, Aaron Smith

Top 25 Uncommitted Players from the Class of 2022

Walter Nolen, St. Benedict at Auburndale Nolen is a 6’4 300 defensive lineman, who currently holds offers from schools such as Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and LSU. Nolen is the number one rated prospect in the entire nation, according to the 247sports composite rankings. Ty Simpson, Westview Simpson is a 6’2 185 quarterback, who currently holds offers from schools such as Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia. Simpson is a consensus top-100 recruit, nationally. Jordan James, Oakland James is a 5’10 200 running back, who currently has a top schools list of Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida State. In his junior season, James ran for 1,521 yards and 20 touchdowns, including winning MVP honors in the 6A state title game with 226 yards and six touchdowns. Dallan Hayden, Christian Brothers Hayden is a 5’11 192 running back, who currently holds offers from schools such as Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Tennessee. Hayden ran for 2,010 yards and 24 touchdowns in his junior season, along with being named a Mr. Football finalist. Langston Patterson, CPA Patterson is a 6’1 215 linebacker and running back, who currently holds offers from schools such as Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Patterson finished with 733 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing, while also racking up 72 tackles and 19 TFLs defensively Taylor Groves, East Robertson Groves is a 6’2 175 athlete, who currently holds offers from schools such as LSU, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss. Groves played primarily on the defensive side of the ball, but missed some time due to injuries during the season. Groves gained 464 yard of offense with 7 touchdowns, along with 55 tackles and 2 interceptions on defense. Kenzy Paul, McCallie Paul is a 6’1 192 wide receiver and defensive back, who currently holds offers from schools such as Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Indiana. Paul really had a breakout season for McCallie, which has allowed him to gain several power five offers. Isaiah Horton, Oakland Horton is a 6’3 190 wide receiver, who currently holds offers from schools such as Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida. Horton gained 635 yards and 7 touchdowns receiving in his Junior season. Keaten Wade, Summit Wade is a 6’4 210 linebacker, who currently holds offers from schools such as Oklahoma, LSU, and Tennessee. Wade missed most of his junior season with injury, before returning for Summit’s semifinal and state championship matchup. Barion Brown, Pearl-Cohn Brown is a 6’1 160 wide receiver, who currently holds offers from schools such as LSU, Georgia, and Auburn. Brown gained 596 yard and 7 touchdowns receiving in a limited season for the Firebirds, Cameron Miller, Memphis Academy of Health Sciences

Early Look At The Class Of 2023

While the class of 2022 in Tennessee may be historically deep, the class of 2023 has no shortage of very talented players. It is way too early to put an accurate ranking on these players, as some potential recruits in the class haven’t even seen serious varsity playing time in their careers to this point, whether that be because of injuries, or being stuck behind talented and older players at powerhouse schools. Here’s an early introduction to some of the top players in the class of 2023, so far.

stateoftennesseehsfb.com's 4A All-State Team

QB: Axel Aldino, Dekalb County, Sr. QB: Bryson Rollins, Elizabethton, Jr. QB: Rivers Hunt, Hardin County, Sr. HB: Isaiah McClaine, Lexington, So. HB: Corterrion Moore, Ripley, Sr. HB: Josh Miller, Anderson County, Sr. HB: John Whitley, Hardin County, Sr. WR: Parker Hughes, Elizabethton, Sr. WR: Desmond Nokes, Dekalb County, Sr. WR: Kaydin Pope, Hardin County, Jr. WR: Alvin House III, Jackson North Side, Sr. TE: Landon Whittemore, Macon County, Sr. OL: Cole Morganstern, Elizabethton, Sr. OL: Ian Poe, Tullahoma, Jr. OL: Clay Odom, Greeneville, Sr. OL: Josh Williams, Lexington, Sr. OL: Will Lucas, White House, Sr. ATH: Jakobe Thomas, Tullahoma, Sr. ATH: Kevontez Hudson, Springfield, Sr. K: Connor Wood, Lexington, Sr. DEFENSE DL: Grant Reeder, Nolensville, Sr. DL: Tyreek Nard, Tullahoma, Sr. DL: Kevarius Smith, Springfield, Jr. DL: Trent Taylor, Elizabethton, Jr. LB: Stone Cummins, Anderson County, Sr. LB: Deuce Morton, Elizabethton, Sr. LB: Christian Stacey, Marshall County, Sr. LB: Anthony Brewer, Haywood, Jr. DB: Elijah Donaldson, Creek Wood, Sr. DB: Jaylen Lewis, Haywood, Jr. DB: Colton Dobson, Nolensville, Sr. DB: Isaac Knowles, Dekalb County, Jr. P: Daniel Bethel, Anderson County, Sr.

stateoftennesseehsfb.com 5A All-State Team

QB: Jordyn Potts, Powell, So. QB: Destin Wade, Summit, Jr. QB: Cole Henson, Morristown East, Sr. RB: Jermarcus Johnson, Henry County, Sr. RB: Shawn Gary, South-Doyle, Jr. RB: De’sean Bishop, Karns, So. RB: Tysean Jefferson, Beech, Sr. WR: Liam Fortner, Knoxville Central, Sr. WR: Brody Swafford, Walker Valley, Sr. WR: Brady Pierce, Summit, Jr. WR: Micah Simpson, Morristown East, Jr. TE: Terrell Brown, South-Doyle, Sr. OL: Jacob Hood, Hillsboro, Jr. OL: Nicolas Edwards, Clarksville, Sr. OL: Camron Gann, Powell, Jr. OL: Kane Lewis, Knoxville West, Sr. OL: Marshall Jefferson, Shelbyville, Sr. ATH: Prince Kollie, David Crockett, Sr. ATH: Kade Cunningham, Shelbyville, Jr. K: Ewan Johnson, South-Doyle, Sr. DEFENSE DL: Jaxon Adams, Oak Ridge, Sr. DL: Xander Allen, Halls, Sr. DL: Gage Robinson, Clarksville Northeast, Sr. DL: Tony Davis, David Crockett, Sr. LB: Drew Fisher, Rhea County, Jr. LB: Kalib Fortner, Knoxville Central, Sr. LB: Jacob Berven, Oak Ridge, Jr. LB: Ethan Scott, Knoxville West, Sr. DB: Jawon Odoms, Henry County, Sr. DB: Carson Whitehead, Powell, Jr. DB: Jaden Keller, Tennessee, Sr. DB: Preston Turner, Oak Ridge, Sr.

Mr. Football Winners Announced

The Mr. Football winners were announced Tuesday morning at Nissan Stadium, and here are the winners. 6A CJ Taylor, Warren County Taylor was a senior dual-threat quarterback, who passed for 492 yards and 3 touchdowns, while also running for 1,764 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was also very good defensively this season, accumulating 57 tackles and 3 INTs. Taylor is committed to Vanderbilt. 5A Prince Kollie, David Crockett Kollie is a senior running back and linebacker, who ran for 1,562 yards and 26 TDs, while also accumulating 109 tackles and 11 TFLs on defense. Kollie is committed to Notre Dame. 4A Parker Hughes, Elizabethton Hughes is a senior wide receiver, running back, and safety, who ran for 539 yards, had 1,326 receiving yards, and 27 total touchdowns. Hughes also had 45 tackles and 6 Interceptions on defense. Hughes led Elizabethton to their second consecutive state title this season. 3A Grey Carroll, Alcoa Carroll is a senior defensive lineman, who racked up 64 tackles, 24 TFLs, and 8 Sacks on the season. Carroll led Alcoa to their sixth consecutive state championship this season. Carroll is committed to Georgia Tech. 2A Khalik Ganaway, Peabody Ganaway is a junior running back, who rushed for 1,860 yards and 24 touchdowns, while leading Peabody to their third consecutive state title. 1A Hunter Frame, South Pittsburg Frame is a senior running back, who rushed for 1,848 yards and 36 touchdowns this season, while leading South Pittsburg to the 1A state title game. DII-AAA Dallan Hayden, Christian Brothers Hayden is a junior running back, who rushed for 2,010 yard and 24 touchdowns this season. He has several high major offers as a junior. DII-AA Dietrick Pennington, ECS Pennington is a senior offensive and defensive lineman, who paved the way for a dynamic running game at ECS. Pennington is committed to Clemson. DII-A Griffin Swinea, Davidson Academy Swinea is a senior running back, who ran for 1,922 yards and 34 touchdowns. He led Davidson Academy to their third consecutive state title this season.

6A All-State Team

QB: Cade Granzow, Brentwood, Sr. QB: Trevor Andrews, Ravenwood, Sr. QB: Connor Beavon, Franklin, Sr. RB: Ray Banner, Lavergne, Sr. RB: Jalen Hunt, McMinn County, Sr. RB: Robert Giamio, Bartlett, Sr. RB: Jordan James, Oakland, Jr. WR: Walker Merrill, Brentwood, Sr. WR: Isaiah Horton, Oakland, Jr. WR: Matt White, Farragut, Sr. WR: Tyroid Good, Cane Ridge, Sr. TE: Jake Briningstool, Ravenwood, Sr. OL: Bryce Goodner, McMinn County, Sr. OL: Jason Amsler, Franklin, Sr. OL: Fisher Anderson, Franklin, Jr. OL: Graham Keating, Oakland, Sr. OL: Harry Wilkes, Houston, Sr. ATH: CJ Taylor, Warren County, Sr. ATH: Jaxson Campbell, Independence, Sr. K: Trey Turk, Oakland, Sr. DEFENSE DL: Javon Nelson, Riverdale, Sr. DL: Ethan Hassler, Collierville, Sr. DL: Eric Gaston, Cane Ridge, Jr. DL: Ethan McLaurin, Oakland, Jr. LB: Spencer Rich, Brentwood, Sr. LB: Junior Colson, Ravenwood, Sr. LB: Caleb Herring, Riverdale, So. LB: Eli Purcell, Farragut, Sr. DB: Myles Pollard, Ravenwood, Jr. DB: John Howse, Brentwood, Sr. DB: DJ Burks, Maryville, Jr. DB: Kobe Manning, Oakland, Sr.

Peabody Uses Strong First Half to Win 3rd Consecutive 2A BlueCross Bowl Over Meigs County

Peabody used a very strong first half to beat Meigs County Saturday afternoon, and earn their 37th consecutive win, along with their 3rd consecutive BlueCross Bowl victory. Led by MVP Drequan Vaughn and a strong defensive effort, Peabody played to their strengths and came out with a victory. Vaughn finished with 17 Carries for 90 Yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground in the game. Drequan Vaughn got Peabody on the board in the first quarter with an 8-yard touchdown run, in which he carried several defenders into the endzone with him. It was his first of three first half touchdown runs. Meigs County had a 51-yard game tying touchdown pass that was called back for an illegal chop block, and this really seemed to kill their momentum offensively. Vaughn found the endzone two more times from short distances to extend the Golden Tide’s lead to 21-0 going into halftime. The Peabody defense dominated the entire first half, holding Meigs County to only 36 total yards. The Golden Tide had all the momentum headed into the locker room, as they dominated in every aspect of the game in the first half. The second half looked like it would be much of the same as Peabody picked off Logan Carroll for six to extend the lead to 28-0 in the third quarter. Just as Peabody looked like they might get a running clock, Meigs County started to make a comeback effort. The Tigers drove down and punched it on a 2-yard touchdown by Mr. Football finalist Will Meadows to make it 28-7. Meigs County then got a much needed fumble recovery, followed by another touchdown on a 1-yard touchdown run by Carroll, followed by a missed extra point to cut the Peabody lead to 28-13. Peabody crushed any hopes of a Meigs County comeback as they drove the ball down, and extended their lead to 35-13 on a 3-yard run by Sam Driggers late in the fourth. This was the dagger for the Golden Tide, as chants of “three-peat” rang throughout the stadium. This is Peabody’s 37th straight win overall, and their 3rd consecutive BlueCross Bowl victory. They will look for a 4th overall as they move down to 1A next season.

Elizabethton Dominates in Second Consecutive 4A BlueCross Bowl Win

Elizabethton was dominant in their second consecutive 4A BlueCross Bowl win over Haywood. Led by MVP Jake Roberts, the Cyclones got up big early and never looked back. Roberts finished with 2 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown receiving, while scoring two defensive touchdowns, a pick-six and a fumble return for a touchdown. The fumble return was the longest in BlueCross history at 82 yards. Elizabethton got rolling early with two touchdowns in the first four minutes, the first was a 55-yard touchdown run by Mr. Football finalist Parker Hughes. The second touchdown of the first four minutes was a 70-yard touchdown pass by the Cyclone’s other Mr. Football finalist Bryson Rollins to game MVP Jake Roberts to give Elizabethton an early 14-0 lead. The Cyclones would strike one more time in the first quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Rollins. Haywood finally showed some signs of life, as they drove the ball down and scored on an 8-yard touchdown run by Kylian Newbern. Elizabethton would score one more time in the first half on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Rollins to Hughes. The Cyclones took a 28-7 lead into halftime with all the momentum. After halftime though, it looked like Haywood may make this a game. The Tomcats forced a fumble and were driving down the field, making it deep into Elizabethton territory. Then, MVP Jake Roberts scooped up a Tomcat fumble, taking it for 82 yards to the endzone for a touchdown, and a new BlueCross Bowl record. From there, the wheels fell off the wagon for Haywood. On the very next drive, Roberts picked off a pass from Newbern, and took it to the endzone to extend the lead to 41-7 for Elizabethton. Haywood would score late to make the final score 41-14. This is Elizabethton’s 30th straight win, and their second consecutive 4A BlueCross Bowl title. 4A will add some very good teams next season in 3A semifinalists Pearl Cohn and Red Bank, along with 3A finalist Milan. It will be very interesting to see if Elizabethton can win their third in a row next season.

Alcoa dominates defensively to earn their 6th consecutive 3A BlueCross Bowl Title over Milan

Defense has been Alcoa’s calling card all season long, and nothing changed Friday morning in Cookeville, as they shut out Milan by a score of 35-0 to earn their sixth consecutive 3A BlueCross Bowl title. While the Alcoa defense was dominant all game long, the MVP came on the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Caden Buckles. Buckles went 19/24 with 288 yards and 2 touchdowns passing, and also had 62 yards rushing on 13 carries. Alcoa’s offense came out firing on the opening drive, as a few big plays led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Ahmauud Sankey. The Alcoa defense forced a three-and-out on Milan’s opening drive, and Sankey found the end zone once again, this time from 1-yard out.Then, once again, Milan ran 3 three plays, and had to send out the punt team. Alcoa struck quickly, as Caden Buckles found Taharin Sudderth from 41 yards out to extend the lead to 20-0 early in the second quarter. The rest of the half was stagnant for both teams offensively, and Alcoa took a 20-point lead into the locker room. For the first part of the second half, the Milan defense played pretty well, as Alcoa didn’t score in the second half until 52 seconds remained in the third quarter on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Buckles to Brayden Anderson. One more touchdown for Alcoa, this time a 31-yard touchdown run by Cam Burden, led to the final score of 35-0 after a 2-pt conversion attempt was successful to put the running clock into effect. This is Alcoa's 6th Consecutive 3A BlueCross Bowl championship, and the program's 19th overall. As for coach Gary Rankin, this is his 16th state title overall, he has 12 with Alcoa and 4 with Riverdale. Alcoa will remain in 3A next season, while Milan will prepare for a move to 4A

Summit Wins First 5A BlueCross Bowl in Program History Thanks to Dominant Defensive Performance

Summit won their first BlueCross bowl in school history Friday night, and were led by the MVP and Mr. Football finalist, quarterback Destin Wade. Wade went 7/10 for 135 yards and a touchdown passing, while also gaining 93 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns rushing. Summit also dominated defensively, allowing seven points and only 145 yards of total offense from Oak Ridge. The boost on defense that Keaten Wade has provided after coming back last week from injury has been immense, and that was proven on Friday night. Oak Ridge got behind early, as Summit gained an early lead on the opening drive thanks to a 2-yard touchdown run by Destin Wade. The Spartans forced an Oak Ridge punt, and scored again to go up 14-0 on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Wade to Brady Pierce. Summit had all the momentum, and looked like they were going to run away with the game as Wade scored again, this time a 3-yard touchdown run to extend the Spartan lead to 21-0 in the second quarter. Oak Ridge finally found a little bit of rhythm offensively as they drove the ball down just before half, and Mitchell Gibbons found Brandon Heyward from two yards out in the corner of the endzone on fourth down to cut the Summit lead to 21-7 going into the locker room. Both teams played very well defensively in the second half, as neither team scored an offensive touchdown in the second half. Both teams were completely shut out in the third quarter, as well. Just as Oak Ridge was looking to cut the Summit lead to a touchdown, Brady Pierce picked off a pass from Mitchell Gibbons, and took it all the way back to the endzone. This was the dagger for Summit, and really took Oak Ridge out of the game completely. Pierce was a star in the game, as he had 3 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown receiving, and also had the pick-six that proved to be the dagger. This is Summit’s first BlueCross Bowl win in program history. The Spartans will prepare for a move to 6A next season into a region with powerhouses such as Brentwood, Ravenwood, Independence, and Franklin.

Fayetteville gets emotional win in 1A BlueCross Bowl over South Pittsburg

Chants of “State for Tate” rang throughout Tucker Stadium as the Fayetteville Tigers won their first BlueCross Bowl in school history with a 20-14 victory over South Pittsburg. Fayetteville football player Tate Tuten was killed last year in a car accident, and his memory has been a driving force behind Fayetteville’s run throughout the playoffs. This one was a battle between two very good running backs, Hunter Frame of South Pittsburg and KJ Jackson of Fayetteville. Jackson, only a freshman, dominated the entire game, earning MVP honors with 210 yards on 30 carries along with 3 touchdowns on the ground. The defenses also both shined the entire game, but Fayetteville’s run game was just too much for the Pirates to handle. The entire first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game, as both defenses played lights out, including a goal line stand by Fayetteville inside the two. South Pittsburg was the first to get on the board, as Deandre Kelly ran the ball into the endzone from three yards out. Fayetteville quickly answered on the ensuing drive, capped off by a 6-yard touchdown pass from Samuel Holdmeyer to Calvin Hughes, along with a successful 2-pt conversion to give Fayetteville an 8-7 lead early in the second quarter. After this touchdown, Fayetteville would not trail for the remainder of the game. The Tigers got another key stop, before driving the ball down and punching it in just before halftime on a 3- yard touchdown run by Jackson to extend the Tiger lead to 14-7 after a failed 2-pt conversion attempt. Fayetteville went into the locker room with all the momentum. South Pittsburg played much better defensively in the second half, even with the loss of Mr. Football Finalist, linebacker Jared Stone, which helped them gain back some of that momentum they lost in the first half. South Pittsburg was the first team to score in the second half, as quarterback Brayden Sanders ran it in from one yard out with five seconds left in the third quarter to tie the game up at 14 a piece. This one looked like it would come down to the wire in the fourth quarter, and that’s exactly what happened. Both teams traded punts to begin the fourth quarter, and then Fayetteville put together a drive that will be remembered forever. The Tigers had their backs against the wall on fourth down, and KJ Jackson busted off a 29-yard touchdown run to give Fayetteville a 20-14 lead late in the fourth quarter. South Pittsburg tried to work some magic of their own, but they came up just short, as a pass in the endzone fell incomplete. There was nothing but pure joy and excitement on the Fayetteville sideline, as the Tigers will bring home their first Gold Ball in school history in honor of their late teammate. State was won for Tate.

McCallie Dominates MUS to Earn Second Consecutive DII-AAA BlueCross Bowl Title

McCallie concluded their dominant playoff run with an exclamation point Thursday night in Cookeville with a blowout of MUS. This game was never close, as the Blue Tornado defense picked off the Owls five times and were unstoppable offensively. Led by DII-AAA Blue Cross Bowl MVP and Mr. Football finalist BJ Harris, McCallie did just about whatever they wanted offensively. The Blue Tornado offense outgained MUS 378-97. Eric Rivers scored his first of three touchdowns on the day on a 29 yard pass to Emile Bellerose. On the very next drive, the Owls threw their first of five interceptions, and seemingly started to collapse as McCallie started to roll. They would score two more touchdowns before halftime, a 26 yard run by Rivers and a 37 yard run by Harris. The wheels really started to fall off the wagon for MUS when McCallie scored on their first drive of the second half, and then got a sack in the endzone for a safety to make the score 30-0. The next McCallie touchdown looked like a game of backyard football as Eric Rivers was seemingly tackled for a loss, but just before he hit the ground he lateralled the ball to BJ Harris who raced down the sidelines for a 54 yard touchdown, which put the running clock into effect. Harris found the endzone one last time as a Blue Tornado for his third touchdown of the game in the 4th quarter. This is McCallie’s second consecutive and third overall BlueCross Bowl win in program history.
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