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When it comes to high school football rivalries, it’s hard to top Harriman and Rockwood.
The two teams started playing in 1921 and have been playing every year since 1923, which makes the annual meeting between the Tigers and Blue Devils the state’s longest consecutive running rivalry.
Friday night at Civitan Field marks the 93rd meeting between to old foes, and this year’s battle is important as ever as both teams are looking to remain alive in the District 3-A race.
While the Harriman and Rockwood game always steals the headlines this time of year, Roane County’s other three teams will be in action this week with district battles of their own on tap.
The action actually starts a day early as Kingston travels to Alcoa on Thursday in a District 4-AA contest. Then on Friday, Midway hosts Tellico Plains in a District 3-A battle while Oliver Springs travels to Jellico for a District 4-A contest.
at Alcoa (5-1)
When two teams with 5-1 records meet, it’s usually considered a toss-up, but that won’t be the case Thursday night as Kingston takes on an Alcoa squad that has won seven of the last eight state championships.
Alcoa actually didn’t win the state title last season, and that seems to have motivated the Tornadoes this season as they have steam rolled four straight opponents since suffering their only loss of the season against Maryville.
The Tornadoes rely heavily on the ground game with Ezekial Koko and Jaquez Tyson leading the way. In last week’s 42-0 victory over Greeneville, the duo combined for 165 yards with Koko scoring four touchdowns.
Kingston’s game plan will be to try to shorten the game by picking up first downs and keeping the chains moving. If that is to happen, Kingston’s experienced offensive line must have a good game and FB Brody Roberts must pick up a lot of tough yards between the tackles.
The Tornadoes have outscored their last four opponents by a combined score of 177-12. That bad news for anyone Alcoa plays, Kingston included... Alcoa 35 Kingston 10.
Tellico Plains (1-4)
at Midway (2-3)
Friday’s match-up between the Bears and Green Wave is a big one as both teams are still alive in the playoff race.
For Tellico Plains, the Bears started the season getting bombed in their first four games, but a change in their offense and a healthy Adam Reece made all the difference two weeks ago when the Bears knocked off Harriman, 41-24.
Reece rushed for 261 yards and three TDs in that game. That success also came after the Bears scrapped their wishbone offense for a wing-t attack.
Tellico Plains, however, has had their share of problems on defense. The Bears are giving up 46.2 points per game, and gave up more than 200 yards rushing against Harriman.
Midway will look to test Tellico Plains’ rush defense with Shandon Lyle, Tyler Clark and several other carriers getting involved in the Green Wave option attack.
This one could be a shootout, but the Bears are coming off a bye week and that extra week to prepare will be the difference... Tellico Plains 21 Midway 16.
Oliver Springs (1-4)
at Jellico (0-5)
The start of the 2012 season has been rough for the Bobcats. Besides having to replace most of their starters from last year, Wiley Brackett’s squad has suffered a ton of injuries.
Last week’s bye week will hopefully refreshen the Bobcats as they prepare to make the long trip up I-75.
For the Bobcats to have success this week, they must find a way to get the ball in the open field against a slower Jellico defense that is giving up 35 points per game.
That could mean more passing from QB Brandon Buck as he tries to get the ball in the hands of Austin West and Michael Simms. RBs Eddie Stephenson and Shawn Childress will provide balance on the ground.
Defensively, the Bobcats will have to keep their eyes on Blue Devil QB Ryan Payne, who rushed for 140 yards and one TD against Midway last week.
A bye week and too many athletes spell doom for the Devils... Oliver Springs 34 Jellico 6.
at Rockwood (3-3)
Harriman will be trying to buck recent history as the Blue Devils will be a heavy underdog entering Friday’s contest at Civitan Field.
Over the past 12 years, Rockwood has dominated the series, going 11-1 and outscoring Harriman 431-124 in the process.
A powerful rushing attack has been the key to the Tigers success during that run, and that will be the game plan again Friday. Rockwood rushed for more than 300 yards against Upperman last week and have four rushers, Kyron Inman, Clay Cisson, Tyler Skidmore and Drake Long with more than 200 yards on the season.
While Harriman is win less, their offense has shown signs of life as the Blue Devils have scored 45 points in their last two games, and in last week’s loss at Wartburg, RBs Mikey Roberts and Taylor King combined for nearly 200 yards on the ground in filling in for an injured Lucas Lunsford.
Strange things happen in rivalry games, but Rockwood appears to be the stronger team... Rockwood 28 Harriman 14.
Goose’s Gander on other games of interest: Greenback by 7 over Grace Christian, Sunbright by 7 over King’s Academy, Coalfield by 14 over Wartburg, Oneida by 28 over Oakdale, CAK by 42 over Scott, Loudon by 21 over Stone Memorial. Last Week 10-0; Overall 65-8.
Goose’s Gurus picks: Rockwood, Tellico Plains, Alcoa, Oliver Springs, Oak Ridge, Coalfield, Loudon, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia. Last Week 10-0; Overall 51-9.