It’s our one-hundredth post as an outlet, so we’d like to take you on a time-trip back through the best games and content on our site! Be sure to check out the Bonus Top Fives below the matchup countdown!
As the season hits its midpoint, we thought we’d take a look back at some of best games to grace our football obsession from 2016.
We take trips from South Pittsburg to Upperman and Whitwell to Bledsoe County in an attempt to to find the best so far in this continuously surprising season. Stars have emerged and fallen while teams sit at extreme odds in success across the region–from Cookeville to cookout during the 1st round of the playoffs.
For the purposes of this countdown, we’ll look at close games with no relation to region and/or playoff implications. Although, that can add to a games spot on the countdown if it makes the game more exciting. Whether it went down to the wire or was on the brink of an upset, the X-factor is prevalent in our picks.
And so we present the best of 2016…so far.
5. Grundy County at Upperman
Bees 13, Yellow Jackets 12
THE HYPE: Grundy County came in as an extreme underdog, with only two wins in as many seasons while Upperman still rode a train of momentum from last season’s 2nd Round run. The Bees were expected to throttle the Yellow Jackets who have a history of keeping things close in Region play. Although they lost a crucial upset, the Yellow Jackets now have notoriety in a Region that often devalues its presence.
TALE OF THE TAPE: Grundy County took charge in the game with a 48-yard touchdown run by Josh Wingo a little over halfway through the 1st quarter. That would put the Jackets up by 6 after a missed extra point. The next drive, The Yellow Jackets would intercept a Duke Maresh pass which led to a three-play touchdown series. Matthew Burrows would dive in for a 36-yard rush, putting the Jackets up by 12 at the end of the first. Play would die down until five minutes left in the fourth where the Jackets still led by the same margin. At around 4:45 left in the game, the Bees found paydirt on a 13-yard pass from Maresh to Brett Burish. The extra point would be good from Allen field to cut the lead to five for the Jackets. Upperman scored yet again just two minutes later on Maresh pass to Izaya Kennedy for 24-yard pass. Missing on the two-point conversion, the Bees held on to take down the Jackets.
THE EXTRA POINT: Grundy County now has some clout and momentum after almost taking down Bees, a respected program in the Region. Upperman now sits at 2-0 in region versus the two worst in the Region.
4. S. Pittsburg at Sequatchie Co.
Indians 27, Pirates 20
THE HYPE: Running out of the gate against a top-notch opponent is never ideal, but both Sequatchie County and South Pittsburg were forced to in week one. After last season’s 12-7 pitcher’s duel in Beene Stadium, the Indians and Pirates didn’t disappoint with a back-and-forth affair in Dunlap. Not knowing what to think of the matchup, or the season for that matter, both fan bases flocked to Indian Stadium, not coming away disappointed.
TALE OF THE TAPE: Now a receiving threat, Cade Kennemore was known for his rushing in week one as he dipped in for a 17-yard touchdown rush early in the 1st quarter. That would give the Pirates a 6-0 lead over the Indians. Hunter Davenport, though would bite right back with a 66-yard burst down the middle, fooling everyone and their brother. The kick would be made, though, as the Indians took a 7-6 lead early. The Indians would score again on a 9-yard run by Adam Pickett. That would be followed with two straight South Pittsburg scores starting with a 75-yard pass from Hogan Holland to Lajuan Ford and finishing on 4-yard Garrett Raulston dash to the end zone. The Pirates took the halftime lead, 20-14. After an Austin Stevens score and missed PAT, the Indians would tie it up at 20-20, which lasted until five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. A 1-yarder from Ethan Barker would give the Indians a seven point lead and ultimately the game.
THE EXTRA POINT: Both teams currently sit in Top-Five positions in the TN High School Football AP Polls among their respective Classes. This is the only loss either team has received thus far is the season.
TSSN EXCLUSIVE STORY: Davenport Leads Indians to ‘Dog Fight’ Win in Home Opener, 27-20
3. Bledsoe Co. at Whitwell
Warrior 22, Tigers 21
THE HYPE: As the season trickled on, the Valley dark horses were struggling to find wins. Whitwell had beaten Grundy County but was unable to capitalize on games against Sequatchie County and Davidson Academy. The Warriors, on the other hand, hadn’t even sniffed a win as they were pummeled by South Pittsburg in the week prior. Both teams were trying to prove something against opponents that seemed evenly matched. As it turns out, there was only a one-point difference between the two squads.
TALE OF THE TAPE: Starting out slow, the Warriors took it in with a two-yard touchdown from Coalton Dunn on the ground with 5:45 to go in the 1st. Boring would make the PAT. The next drive, Tiger tailback Hudson Petty dipped in for a 29-yard touchdown, leaving Whitwell down by only a point after the missed PAT. It wouldn’t be until the 2nd quarter that Tiger quarterback Dawson Holloway would connect with Tight End Garrett Shrum for a 55-yarder, putting TigerTown ahead–after the two-point conversion–going into the locker room. Dunn would again strike, this from 12 yards out in the fourth quarter. To overtime they went! Petty scored a five-yard rushing touchdown capped by a Nunley kick to put the Tigers up 21-14. Owensby and his riverboat-rambling squad sent Joseph Gore in for the score on a five-yarder before going for two. Again they sent Gore and were successful, taking the 22-21 victory to Pikeville.
THE EXTRA POINT: Even after early season woes, both the Tigers and Warriors still remain in the playoff hunt, slowly picking off bottom-dwellers in their respective regions.
2. Sequatchie Co. at Bledsoe Co.
Indians 15, Pirates 12
THE HYPE: In the second entry for both of these teams on our countdown, the infamous ‘Battle for the Stump’ did not disappoint even though the Indians, again, took home the irrelevant piece of a tree. Although the Indians were heavily favored, many suspected that it would be a close matchup worthy of the long-standing rivalry. Bledsoe County came in on a two-game streak, while the Indians were fresh off an undefeated slate and a bye week.
TALE OF THE TAPE: After a scoreless 1st quarter, The Indians started off the scoring with a 3-yard rush from Hunter Davenport for the score. With no hesitation, head coach Adam Caine sent all his dogs in on the two-point conversion, which successful under the might of Davenport. After a stop deep in their own redzone, Sequatchie County headed into the locker room with an 8-0 lead. Into the third, Bledsoe County would counter with a 6-yard rush from Joseph Gore. Gore would also try the two-point conversion and fail, leaving the score at 8-6, Sequatchie County. Gore would again score early in the fourth on a 5-yard dip into the endzone. The conversion would be no good yet again, though the Warriors claimed the 12-8 lead late in the game. With 4:28 left in the ball game, the Indians’ Austin Stevens fought for a two-yarder and, after Abraham Martinez’s kick, put the Indians ahead by three. They would stop the Warriors and run out the clock to bring home the rivalry win a fourth straight year.
THE EXTRA POINT: The Indians came in ranked No. 3 in Class 3A and, as a result, were pushed up to No. 2 in the polls in the following week. This Indian senior class will go down as never losing to the Warriors in their four-year tenure.
TSSN EXCLUSIVE STORY: TIRE FIRE: Sequatchie Stumps Bledsoe, Wins Without Completing Pass
1. Marion Co. at South Pittsburg
Indians, 27, Pirates 20
THE HYPE: If there was a game more hyped this season than Marion County-South Pittsburg, you can bet your lucky stars that it was at the next level. At the lower ranks, in Class 1A and 2A, it’s potentially the biggest showdown on a year-to-year basis. The Warriors came in riding a two-game streak in series while the Pirates were fighting past a week one loss to Sequatchie County. And with the dramatics that Shakespeare would have trouble writing in regards to the stories brought to light before, it was time to play football and put the rivalry to bed for the season.
TALE OF THE TAPE: The Warriors started off the scoring with a 1-yard rush by sophomore quarterback Isaiah Sampson with a 1:00 to go in the 1st quarter. Houston McElroy would make the PAT. Midway through the 2nd, South Pittsburg would counter with a 5-yard pass from Hogan Holland to Cade Kennemore as E.J. Cagle missed the extra point. Cagle would avenge himself with a 23-yard field goal to take the lead halfway through the third quarter. Two minutes later, Jacob Saylors hopped in the endzone on a 5-yarder with a made PAT by McElroy. The Warriors would take a 14-9 lead going into the fourth quarter. Just like that, though, Cade Kennemore would return a punt for 65 yards to the house, capped off by Joseph Lilly two-point conversion. Now down by three, the Warriors would elect to kick a field goal on fourth down deep in Pirate territory with just a minute to go. McElroy would chip it in to tie up the game at 17 a piece. With great field position, South Pittsburg marched down to the 30 where another Holland-Kenemore connection would result in a score with 11 seconds to go. The Pirates would take the showdown of powerhouses 24-17 with just seconds to spare.
THE EXTRA POINT: Marion County has moved back up the polls after falling as far as No. 3. They sit at number two even after a loss to then-No. 8 South Pittsburg in 1A. The Pirates are currently No. 5 in that same poll this week.
TSSN EXCLUSIVE STORY: BEENE-BAFFLED: Last Minute Score Upsets Top-Ranked Warriors
AND FOR YOUR BONUS…
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