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2018 football season offered plenty of highlights

Douglas Fritz • Nov 19, 2018 at 8:48 PM

With the 2018 football season a done deal for Tri-Cities teams, it’s time to take a look back at the things we liked.

David Crockett’s historic season was right at the top of Jamie Combs’ list. He said it’s always good to see a program that hasn’t had a lot of success do something special. The Pioneers’ 12-1 year and run to the TSSAA Class 5A quarterfinals easily qualified as a special season.

Here are some other things the sports department of the Johnson City Press and Times News enjoyed this year.

“Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett not giving up on the end of their seasons” — Doug Fritz

The Hilltoppers were 2-5 and D-B was 2-6. They could have tanked it. Instead the Hilltoppers strung together four wins and made the playoffs. D-B battled to a couple of tough wins for a 4-6 finish that won’t stand out among other down years.

“Science Hill’s playoff win over Bradley Central” — Jeff Birchfield

It wasn’t just the win, said Jeff, although that was part of it. But it was the way Science Hill used its late-game experience to pull out a last-second win on a field goal.

“The build up to the Musket Bowl” — Doug Fritz

It was neat to watch Crockett click off win after win, and for Daniel Boone to match the Pioneers right up to the biggest Musket Bowl ever. And the game itself matched all of the hype and then some, with Crockett winning on a defensive stop in the final seconds.

“David Crockett’s fan support” — Jeff Birchfield

Area football teams, including the big schools, have played in front of sparse crowds in recent years. Jeff said he was impressed with the way the Jonesborough community supported this team with other entertainment options available on Friday nights.

“All of the offense I saw” — Tanner Cook

Tanner said he enjoys watching teams go up and down the field, putting pressure on defenses to come up with that game-changing stop. He said he was particularly impressed with Cherokee dual-threat quarterback Trey Courtney.

“Unicoi County emerging from the shadows a little bit” — Jamie Combs

The Blue Devils put it together, winning nine games. And the playoff win over Kingston was a program-changing event.

“Johnson County’s performance after being almost cleaned out by graduation” — Jamie Combs

The Longhorns were 11-0 before they lost in 2017, but this year was supposed to be different. It was actually similar as the ’Horns went 9-1 before a very tough playoff lost to Gatlinburg-Pittman.

“All of the impressive statistics” — Doug Fritz

If you like statistics, 2018 was your season. Area players were chasing career highs, school records, and a select few were etching their names into the state record books. It was fun to follow, and at the top of the list was David Crockett quarterback Cade Larkins.

HISTORY IN THE BOOKS

Larkins had the fourth-best passing season in state history. His total of 3,979 yards falls behind only Charlie High (5,191 in 2011 and 5,158 in 2012) and Anderson County’s Tanner Williams (4,166 in 2009).

Also, Larkins posted a top-10 all-time finish with 42 touchdown passes this season. He was 22 short of a top-10 finish for completions (222), and seven short in attempts (376).

In terms of career numbers, Larkins stands in ninth place on the yardage list with 8,398. He will enter his senior season needing 2,724 yards to become the state’s all-time leader. That would require an average of 272 yards per game to reach the mark in the regular season. This year, Larkins averaged 306 yards per game.

On the touchdown list, Larkins has 71 for his career. He will need 18 next year for a top-10 finish — assuming Greeneville and Anderson County submit career stats to the TSSAA for Cade Ballard and Stanton Martin, respectively — and 41 for a top-five finish.

COLLEGE SIGNINGS

David Crockett will be sending another player to the college level. Landon Quillen will make it official Tuesday that he’ll play baseball at King University. The ceremony will be at 1:30 p.m. in the high school library. ...

Sullivan East had three players make their college choices last week. Katelyn Loudy and Chelsea Sams both signed to play softball with King University while Kylee Wolfe signed to play softball at Chattanooga State.

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