By Steve Williams
Another good Austin-East High School football season has ended against Alcoa.
The Roadrunners (9-4) lost to the undefeated Tornadoes 24-6 in the TSSAA Class 3A quarterfinal round at Alcoa Friday night.
“Our team played hard last night,” said A-E Coach Jeff Phillips on Saturday. “We made mistakes and against the Number 1 team in the state you can’t do that if you’re going to pull off the upset.”
Austin-East also was eliminated by Alcoa in the quarterfinals last season 34-14 and Coach Gary Rankin’s squad went on to capture their third straight state championship.
Some have said the Tornadoes may be the top team in the state this season counting all TSSAA classifications.
Alcoa did beat Blount County rival Maryville, a Class 6A perennial state power, 34-28 at Maryville this season.
“It’s hard playing against a 6A team in a 3A division when they (Alcoa) have 100 players and rotate them,” said Coach Phillips. “They have players coming from everywhere playing with them. It’s a factory out there.”
In 10 regular season games this fall, Alcoa outscored its opponents 474-67. In the Tornadoes’ three playoff games thus far, they have scored 136 points to their opponents’ six points.
Austin-East was classified 3A in 2017, moving up from Class 2A. The Roadrunners have finished second to Alcoa in the Region 2-3A standings both years.
Upperman will host Alcoa in the state semis this week at Baxter. The Bees are 13-0 after a 50-21 win over Red Bank.
HUGE COMEBACK: Knoxville Catholic overcame a 19-point halftime deficit to stun homestanding Oak Ridge 42-40 at Blankenship Field in the Class 5A quarterfinals Friday night.
“We were able to get some defensive stops and Adam Jones and Jack Jancek hooked up for a touchdown,” said Catholic Coach Steve Matthews, reflecting on his team’s second-half rally.
Matthews said his team’s offensive linemen were the “unsung heroes” in the game. “Bryce Nicely played outstanding.”
Jancek had three touchdown passes in the win.
Catholic will host Central Friday night in a rematch of last year’s state semifinal game in Fountain City, which the Irishmen won 42-7 en route to the state championship.
“Central is the hottest team in the state right now having won 11 straight,” said Matthews. “They will definitely be a huge challenge.”
NEARING A HUNDRED: Maryville’s 26-10 Class 6A quarterfinal win over Farragut last week was the Red Rebels’ 98th win in a row over a Knox County football team. The streak started in the 2000 season.
SCORES OF INTEREST: The Greeneville at Anderson County Class 4A quarterfinal showdown was one-sided. The unbeaten Greene Devils jumped out to a 42-7 halftime lead and coasted to 42-21 win with the clock running per TSSAA mercy rule.
Murfreesboro Oakland won at previously unbeaten Mt. Juliet 14-7 and will host Maryville in the Class 6A semifinals this week. Oakland hasn’t lost since falling at Maryville 24-21 in Week 2.
PREPS OF THE PAST: 15 years ago, Nov. 21, 2003 – Christian Academy of Knoxville came from behind in the second half to win at Greenback 14-12 in a TSSAA Class 1A quarterfinal game. Taylor Yoakley deflected the Cherokees’ two-point pass attempt in the end zone with 1:36 to go to preserve the margin of victory.
An 85-yard run in the fourth quarter by Will Burkhart had given CAK a 14-6 lead. The Warriors’ first score came on quarterback Mark Cunningham’s 8-yard pass to Brendan Japp in the third quarter.
“The last four games we won by one point,” said CAK Coach Bill Young. “This was two points. I guess that’s a blowout.”