By Steve Williams
It didn’t take Joe Healy long to start thinking about playing Fulton in second-round playoff action.
Catholic High’s junior defensive end can hardly wait.
“We’re ready and real excited,” said Healy, still on the field at Seymour after the Irishmen posted an impressive 50-7 first-round win over the Eagles in Class 4A. “I wish we could fast-forward to Friday.”
The way Catholic and Fulton are playing at this point in the season, some believe the showdown this Friday night could be a de facto state championship game.
“I believe it,” said Healy, who recorded three tackles for loss and a sack against Seymour.
“It’s a big game. It means a lot to all of us, especially the seniors. We’ve lost three times in a row. It’s time to get back at them.”
Fulton has won three state titles in a row.
Catholic lost 34-23 in a regular season game against the Falcons Sept. 18.
STILL GOING: Nine high school football teams from Knox County have passed first-round playoff assignments.
In addition to Catholic and Fulton, moving on to second-round action this Friday night will be Halls, Farragut and West in Class 5A, Central in Class 4A, CAK in Class 3A, and Austin-East and Grace Christian Academy in Class 2A.
Defending Division II-A state champion Webb was among first-round losers. The Spartans fell to University School of Jackson 7-6.
NO LETDOWN: CAK came back strong after suffering its first loss of the season at Alcoa.
“Our guys did a great job bouncing back from our loss last week,” said Coach Rusty Bradley, after the Warriors’ 37-14 win over Johnson County. “I’m proud of the way they played. Cole Smith was 26 of 33 passing for 413 yards and two touchdowns.”
PROUD IN DEFEAT: Clinton head coach Josh Kerr complimented his Dragons after their 40-21 loss Thursday at Ooltewah, the Region 4-4A champion.
“We fought hard but just couldn’t put drives together in the second half and left our defense out on the field too much,” said Kerr, whose team trailed only 16-14 at intermission. “We gave them a short field. They were able to get pressure. They had a great front, probably one of the better ones we’ve seen. We dropped some balls that we haven’t in past weeks and you can’t do that against a team like Ooltewah.
“We had a great senior class. After tough losses earlier, they could’ve given up, but they kept working and got better each week and came to play every night. I’m going to miss them.”
FINISHING STRONG: Powell won the “Battle of Panthers,” blanking Lenoir City 25-0 in the Careacter Star Community Service Game Thursday night at Grace Christian.
“We finished 2-9 on the season and will take a two-game win streak into next season,” said first-year Powell coach Rodney Ellison, who guided the Panthers to a 23-17 win over South-Doyle in the regular season finale.
“The future is bright and I can’t wait to get in the weight room and begin working g towards next season. Our seniors have laid a great foundation for us to build on.”
Freshman Carson Cole threw two TD passes and Jamil Birden ran for two touchdowns to lead the Powell attack.
Defensively, Dalton Jett blocked a field goal attempt by Lenoir City, Brandon Smith had two interceptions and Kamari Smith had a pick and caused a fumble.
UNSUNG HERO: Troy Fleming, head coach of Concord Christian School’s first-year program, has recognized the Lions’ Jon Roberts, a sophomore defensive end and offensive lineman.
“Jon is one of our captains, who is the model of what you want in a student athlete,” said Fleming. “His work ethic is unmatchable and his drive to be excellent sets the bar high for every athlete at Concord Christian School.”