By Steve Williams
Jeff Phillips called Austin-East’s win at Fulton in 2016 “a signature win for our program.”
The 20-13 victory over their city rival sparked the Roadrunners to a 12-2 season and a run to the Class 2A state semifinals.
“Fulton was beating us like a drum a couple of years and we just could never seem to put things together mentally,” recalled Phillips in a preseason interview in August.
Going into last season’s game, Fulton had averaged 59 points per game against the Roadrunners and captured three Class 4A state championships since the last time Austin-East had won in the series.
“We kept losing our focus mentally in that game,” added Phillips, who is in his fifth season as A-E’s head coach. “Last year we put it together. So for our program, it meant you’ve come so far. You’ve continued to make strides. You’ve continued to go out and do things better. That just showed how far we had come.”
The Roadrunners’ victory ended a five-game losing streak to Coach Rob Black’s Falcons.
A-E and Fulton will square off again Friday night off Magnolia Avenue at Sam Anderson Field. Kickoff is at 7:30.
HEADLINERS: Other top local attractions in Week 4 include Oak Ridge at unbeaten Farragut, Jefferson County at Carter, Central at Hardin Valley, Bearden at South-Doyle and The King’s Academy at Greenback.
Two region battles will pit Powell at Karns in Region 3-5A and Middle Tennessee Christian at Concord Christian in a Division II-A East contest.
COMPUTER SAYS: Knoxville Catholic’s football team, which plays at Cleveland this week, was No. 4 in the state counting all classifications in the Sonny Moore Computer Power Ratings after the first two weeks of play. The Irishmen’s rating was 148.26.
Other Knox County teams rated in the Top 25 included No. 8 Fulton with a rating of 143.24 and No. 15 Farragut with a rating of 136.08.
Murfreesboro Oakland, which defeated Maryville 17-14 in Week 2, was the top rated team in the state with a rating of 159.04. Maryville’s 69-game winning streak in regular season play was snapped in the road loss.
Brentwood Academy, which is scheduled to play at Catholic in Week 6, was No. 2 with a 155.43 rating and Maryville was No. 3 with a 152.06 rating. Alcoa was No. 13 with a 136.97 rating.
RARE OCCASION: All four Blount County football teams lost in Week 2, something that hadn’t happened in almost 23 years. In addition to Maryville falling at Oakland, Alcoa was nipped 22-21 by Corbin, Ky., Heritage was handed a 10-3 defeat by Sevier County and William Blount was trounced by Anderson County 56-16.
Austin Bornheim of The Daily Times reported the last time it happened was on Oct. 14, 1994.
INJURY REPORT: Maryville senior quarterback Dylan Hopkins suffered a shoulder injury in his team’s season-opening with over Catholic and was sidelined for the game against Oakland. First-year Maryville Coach Derek Hunt said Hopkins would play in Week 3 against McMinn County.
PREPS OF THE PAST: Ten years ago, on Sept. 7, 2007, Skylar McBee, junior quarterback for Rutledge, scored five touchdowns in a 44-26 win at Pigeon Forge. He rushed for 126 yards on 23 carries and completed three of four passes for 58 yards as the Pioneers evened their record at 1-1.
(Since then, Rutledge High turned into the Grainger Grizzlies and McBee played basketball for Bruce Pearl and the Tennessee Vols.)
Also on that night, senior quarterback Clark McMillan threw for 106 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 149 yards and two more TDs to lead Central past Halls 28-13 in the Region 3-4A opener at Central. Courtland Styles snagged both of the TD passes
Coach Joel Helton’s team had lost their first two games of the season, but took a 14-0 halftime lead over the Red Devils. Wesley Kitts’ 22-yard TD run shaved the deficit, but McMillan and Styles hooked up for their second TD to make it 21-7.