BY WAYNE PHILLIPS
& DARREN REESE
A big cross-county matchup at "The Tundra" between host North Greene and visiting West Greene highlights Friday's prep football slate.
The other three games are road tilts for the county schools, and none is bigger than Greeneville's visit down to Blount County to take on perennial power Alcoa. Chuckey-Doak travels to Cocke County to play Cosby's Eagles, while the South Greene Rebels go up the highway to Jonesborough and a date with the David Crockett Pioneers.
The Greeneville at Alcoa game starts at 7 p.m. Friday. The other games begin at 7:30.
BUFFS AT HUSKIES
It's a county matchup which makes it plenty special, and it's an important contest for both schools. The two teams mirror each other in the fact that they've both been hampered by turnovers and mistakes this season.
"The word for this game is efficiency," North Greene Coach Josh Edens said. "The team that can go out there and be the most efficient will win. That means taking care of the football, don't make silly penalties and do things you're supposed to do. Both teams do so many things well, but we've both made mistakes this year. Which team matures the most before Friday can win the game."
The Huskies are 4-1, coming off a big regional win at Cosby last week by a 13-9 margin. Edens said his team did what they had to do to win.
"We cleared holes all night," he said. "We'd go 10 yards and fumble, or go 15 yards then get a holding penalty. We executed but didn't finish. Our defense stepped up against a team that had some really good athletes. Their quarterback and receiver was probably more athletic than us."
Edens said his Huskies will face a West Greene team that has plenty of speed.
"They have speed in the back field, but they aren't as big as they've been up front the past few years," he said. "But they give great effort, and they are quick off the ball. Plus their passing game in recent weeks is coming around, so they are starting to become the total package."
The Buffs come into the contest at 1-4 following a tough loss to Cumberland Gap last Friday. The game is important to both schools, Edens said, because to the Buffs it would help then recover from that tough loss, and for his Huskies, it would give them momentum heading to Hampton next Friday for a league game.
Despite a rough start to the first half of the season, West Greene head coach Joe Case says his squad's ultimate season goals are still within reach.
"We still have a chance to win the county championship and make the playoffs," Case said. "That's what we are about here at West Greene. I still believe the best is still yet to come from the Buffaloes this season, but this week is a must-win game."
West Greene turned the ball over four times and suffered several inopportune penalties in a 21-6 decision to Gap. Still, Case saw some positive things from his team that he believes they can build upon.
"We moved the ball well, and defensively, I thought we played really well for the most part," the coach said. "We just didn't capitalize when we needed to."
Case knows North Greene will offer a stiff challenge.
"Mason Early is a great player and does a good job of finishing plays," Case said. "(D.J. Triplett) and (David Triantas) are good athletes, and their quarterback does a good job of running things."
"They are just a good football team. We are going to have to play our best if we want to get a win."
DEVILS AT ALCOA
Greeneville will likely meet an opponent Friday night that will come out breathing fire, particularly those Alcoa players who came to Burley Stadium last season and were whipped by a 42-14 margin.
Losing is unusual for Alcoa anytime, but you can bet that the 42-14 score has been posted in the Tornadoes' locker room.
"Our kids are excited about playing them," GHS Coach Caine Ballard said. "It's a big atmosphere, one of think they'll enjoy. I'm sure the community is excited as well. These are the type of games that you want to play in. We're looking foward to the challenge. We were able to take it to them last year, and I'm sure they are looking for revenge."
Alcoa is 4-1 on the year, losing to Maryville in a televised game on a Sunday afternoon early in the season that was watched closely by local people. After that loss, the Tornadoes have won three straight games -- over Loudon, Austin-East and Scott County -- by a combined score of 135-12.
Greeneville is 2-2, starting the season off slow with back-to-back losses to Science Hill and Morristown West before defeating Franklin County and South Greene.
"We got off to a tough start, and I sort of expected that," Ballard said. "But we seem to have gotten back on our feet."
Ballard said Alcoa is a very similar team as last year: a very physical team that likes to run it at you with their tight end sets.
"Very well coached," Ballard said, "and that goes without saying. They'll just pound the ball, and they'll keep pounding you if we let them. Defensively they've changed their scheme a bit. They've gone back to a 4-3 alignment. Last year they were in a 3-front. It's a pretty basic defense. They don't blitz much. You can do that if you have the type of players that they have. Just stay at home and make plays."
Alcoa always has a speedy tailback who can score almost any time. This year is no different.
"They have a 4.4 guy at tailback that you must tackle before he gets started," Ballard said. "And they have a big sophomore who will pound you between the tackles. They've got the speed and the big backs, too."
Ballard said the team is in good shape physically.
"You have to turn up [intensity] practice on weeks like this with you fingers crossed that you don't get anybody hurt," Ballard said. "You have to try to simulate their offense, and to do that you've got to be physical. But we're OK right now."
REBELS AT CROCKETT
South Greene and David Crockett have played football against each other for years, and normally it is a highly competitive game.
Friday when the two teams meet on the Pioneers' home turf, the matchup will find two teams struggling to find an offense, and two squads coming off big losses in their last outing.
The Rebels fell to powerful Greeneville last week, while at the same time Crockett was losing in a big way to Science Hill. Reb Coach Shawn Jones looks for both teams to search for some redemption this week.
"Crockett runs the wing-T, just like they have for years," Jones said. "Like us, they've struggled offensively. But we expect a real tough game because it always is."
Against Greeneville last week, Jones said he was proud of the way quarterback Hunter Waddell threw the football, and the Rebels were able to gain some yardage through the air as they continue to try to improve in their running game.
"We'll start the game with only one senior in the lineup," Jones said, noting that senior lineman Cody Brobeck left last week with an injury and will be sidelined for the Crockett game. "But it is what it is. We'll go up there and fight and battle the best we can. Our boys won't give up and the coaching staff won't give up. We've got five games left to play."
KNIGHTS AT COSBY
Chuckey-Doak head coach Aaron Christian was anxious to see how his team would practice this week, coming off a dramatic district win over Grainger County last Friday night.
Fortunately for the Black Knights, the effort has been good leading up to tomorrow night's road trip to Cosby.
"You always wonder, coming off an emotional high like that, how the kids will respond," Christian said. "But we have really strong senior leadership on this year's team. I have really been impressed."
Chuckey-Doak trailed Grainger by double digits in the second half but rallied for a 34-33 victory. The win kept the Black Knights undefeated in the league, but Christian would like to keep the momentum going as the Black Knights inch closer toward next week's District 2-AA showdown with Cumberland Gap.
Cosby runs a similar type of offense as Gap, which Christian sees as a benefit for his squad.
"We are trying to keep our kids from looking ahead to Cumberland," Christian said. "Cosby likes to do a lot of the same things as far as spreading it out and throwing it, so I think it will be good for us to get used to that."
Cosby enters the game 2-2 overall but 0-2 in Region 1-A. The Eagles suffered a 15-7 loss to North Greene last Friday.
"Cosby is typical from what we've seen from them in the past, as far as having great skill position players," Christian said. "We feel like we have an advantage up front, but great skill players can keep a game close."
Chuckey-Doak benefited from the return of Bryce Malone from injury last week, as the senior running back ran for 194 yards.
"It was good to see number 39 back out there," Christian added. "We got a lot of players healthy during our bye week, and then came out of the Grainger game healthy, so we are in good shape this week."