BY WAYNE PHILLIPS
SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS
North Greene's kids took care of business.
That's all they could do in their bid to make the post-season playoffs, then hurry to the locker room after romping past Hancock County 47-0 to see what a team in West Tennessee was doing.
Trinity Christian, unfortunately for the Huskies, was running away with Scotts Hill 42-21, and that's probably bad news for the Huskies as they are one of the so-called "bubble teams" when the TSSAA playoffs are announced this morning.
The Huskies finish the season at 5-5 overall, 3-2 in Region 1-1A, but that's probably not going to be good enough to get into the post-season. Hampton and Cloudland are the top two teams in the league and automatically get in, while the Huskies settle for third place but may very well get bumped because a 3-7 team in West Tennessee (Booker T. Washington) makes it by virtue of finishing second in a four-team league.
"It's a shame," Coach Josh Edens said after the game. "Trinity deserves to be in the playoffs. We deserve to be in the playoffs. But a 3-7 team is going to make it and actually host a game, and that's disappointing.
"But as upset as I've been over that, I told the kids we could sit around and say 'woe is me,' or we could man up and go out the right way on Senior Night. It's the last night on 'The Tundra' for these seniors and we made it count for them. I couldn't be more proud."
It was a particularly satisfying night for three seniors: quarterback Tanner O'Laughlin, tailback Mason Early and linebacker David Triantas, all of whom will leave their mark on the record books at North Greene.
O'Laughlin became a 1,000-yd. passer on the season with 135 yds. through the air against Hancock, Early became the school's career rushing leader with a 91-yd. effort Friday night, and Triantas crossed the 100-tackle plateau for the season.
"A 1,000-yd. passer is rare around here," Edens smiled among the elated group of Huskies gathered at midfield. "Mason has had a great season and a great four years here at North Greene. Triantas is a Mr. Football candidate, in my opinion."
The Huskies took advantage of five first half turnovers by Hancock County (three lost fumbles and two pass interceptions) to build a big early lead in coasting to the 47-0 victory.
Things didn't start out well for North Greene as they lost a fumble on their first play from scrimmage, but that would be their only turnover of the night.
They didn't dent the scoreboard until 3:25 was left in the opening quarter when Early scored on a 9-yd. run, culminating a 64-yd. drive in nine plays. Tyler Bailey booted the PAT.
But once they got started, the rout began as they scored two more times before the first quarter ended.
Senior D.J. Triplett returned a punt 34 yds. to the 5-yd. line after the Huskies' defense penned up the Indians. Senior lineman-turned-fullback Ethan Dotson barged up the middle on first down for the score.
After the ensuing kickoff, Hancock quarterback Cody Easterday was picked off by Triplett at the Hancock 28 and returned it to the end zone for another quick touchdown. Bailey converted PATs after both those touchdowns and the lead was 21-0.
Another interception on the first play of the second quarter, this one by senior Zachary Dalton, had the Huskies at the doorstep again at the Hancock 10-yd. line, and on second down O'Laughlin found sophomore Zane Britton across the middle for the scoring pass. Bailey again converted to make it 28-0.
Hancock couldn't get anything done the rest of the period as they lost three fumbles on their next three possessions. The second lost fumble resulted in a score when Early took a pitch around end for a 28-yd. scoring trot. The PAT failed this time, and the Huskies settled for a 34-0 halftime edge.
The Huskies wanted to give O'Laughlin every opportunity to cross the 1,000-yd. passing plateau, and he got close in the third quarter when he heaved a 41-yd. strike to Britton down the sideline to make it 41-0 after the Bailey PAT.
That score put the "mercy rule" into effect, and the game moved quickly. A 20-yd. pass from O'Laughlin to Britton moved O'Laughlin to 1,005 yds. on the year, and Early scored the final touchdown of the season on a 4-yd. run to up the lead to 47-0.
For the game O'Laughlin hit 11-of-21 for 135 yds. and no interceptions, and the Huskies added 183 yds. on the ground. In addition to Early's 91 yds., Triplett got 56 and Dotson added 46.
Hancock County (0-5, 2-8) was led by Ashton Hatfield with 40 yds. on the ground and Jacob Baker added 33 as the Indians managed only 62 total yds. in the contest.