As we look forward to 2017 season, let us close a riveting chapter of Sequatchie County football history that featured four teams in the playoffs and three in the semifinals. With the likes of Mr. Football players and All-State Selections, 2016 was a year to remember in our little neck of the woods.
So here’s to you 2016, and may the 2017 Prep Football Season bring us more than we ever expected!
(No. 10) Kicker’s Shootout at Beene
In a feat that could be described as the Master’s in the middle of a football field, Whitwell’s Austin Nunley, Bledsoe County’s Gabe Boring, Silverdale’s Connor Eischeid battled it out during a skills competition at halftime of the Annual Sequatchie Valley Jamboree. Already having the Punting Trophy under his belt, Boring was a shoe-in to take down his two adversaries as eight football teams formed a crowd tied off by coaches holding back their players. As the distance continued to length from 30 yards to 40, it was evident that only three could keep up with the inevitable half field boot.
Still, South Pittsburg’s straight-legged wonder was able to keep stride up to 40 yards before he ended up bouncing off the crossbar. To the 35-yard line, Eischeid, Nunley, and Boring had not even broken a sweat. Ity was their time to shine among the massive crowd in attendance at the South Pittsburg Facility. Already going on longer than any expected, the tension was amazingly high. Nunley was the first to go, but he would only miss wide right, having the distance to go farther. Only the Seahawk and Warrior remained. To the 40-yard line where a 50-yard kick hung in the balance, First up was Boring who nailed the distance by a mile but ended up wide right as Nunley did. Eischeid barely pulled it across the crossbar, but the kick was straight enough to win the contest.
(No. 9) Warriors Take Two For One
In the early weeks of the 2016 season, Friday nights were brighter for the Warriors who end their campaign with only four wins. Two of those came during weeks four and five as they headed into their Bye Week before the Battle for the Stump at home. After starting off with a pair of home losses against South Pittsburg and Silverdale Academy, the Warriors were itching for a win as they headed to TigerTown for a showdown with Whitwell in a tussle of Valley programs.
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 as etty 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.
Hosting Polk County at home, the Warriors allowed an early 79-yard touchdown with 11 minutes left in the first period.n Bledsoe County would knott things up at halftime with a five-yard rush near the end of the second quarter. A score midway through the third by Polk County would force the Warriors into overdrive as they scored less than two minutes laters with a very unusual miss by All-State kicker Gabe Boring. The Warriors would score again in the fourth before Polk County answered with a score of their own in under a minute left to play. They would miss the two point conversion leading a victory formation from Bledsoe County.
(No. 8) Four Named Mr. Football Semifinalists
As the grass turned brown on a deep postseason run for three Valley teams, honors started to pour from all over the state including four Mr. Football nominations from three different teams.
Hunter Davenport was an integral part of the Sequatchie County Indians’ 10-0 season with a major line of statistics on both sides of the ball. He scored 20 touchdowns that season including 16 on the ground, 3 through the air and one interception return to the house. Davenport has also racked up 92 total tackles on the defensive side of the ball, including 9 for a loss, 2 sacks, and 63 solo tackles.
On the defensive side of the ball, Alex Kirkendoll was no stranger to the Mr. Football awards as he was a semifinalist during the 2015 season. After a monster performance that year, Kirkendoll stepped his game up even more during his senior season. On the season, Kirkendoll had amassed 118.5 tackles, 85 on his own and 71 assists. Also included in his totals were 12 tackles for a loss and a sack.
Although Hunter McClain had been nominated more for his duties at linebacker, his work on both sides of the ball was impressive, even for a player at a powerhouse program. McClain joined his teammate, Alex Kirkendoll, in the Lineman of the Year category as one of two duos to be nominated in the same category from the same team. McClain rushed for 797 yards on 101 attempts this season for 7.9 yards per carry and eight touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, he had 63–41 solo and 44 assists–to his name, including 3 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss.
Mitch Butner showed his worth this past season as a lineman on both sides of the ball. He’s been dominant down low as his team continued on into the postseason, holding a 9-game win streak at the time. And with the amount of yards amassed by his running back corps, it’s plain to see how valuable Mitch Butner was to this team, especially as close as the Pirate got to a Cookeville return.
(No. 7) Indians Take
Third Win in Pirate Rivalry
The Indian-Pirate Rivalry has always been a little lopsided with South Pittsburg taking the lower end of the see-saw, but last season, Sequatchie County did something that it had not done since the 90’s: take three in a row from South Pittsburg. In the midst of a coaching change from Colquette to Caine and the return of Vic Grider, 2016 started a new, more competitive era in the underlying, underrated rivalry.
The Pirates wouldn’t wait until the third quarter to score like they did in 2015’s matchup. In fact with 9:19 left in the first, Cade Kennemore ran for a 17 yard touchdown with the kicker missing the PAT. The Indians would retaliate with Davenport’s 66-yard burst right down the middle. Later in the second, the Indians scored two minutes in with a 9 yard run by Pickett to put the Indians up 14-6 after two made PATs for Abraham Martinez. South Pittsburg scored twice in the second on a 75-yard pass from quarterback Hogan Holland to Lajuan Ford and a 4-yard gainer by Garrett Raulston. The Pirates went for two on the first touchdown and missed the PAT on the second to put themselves up 20-14.
Coming out on the second half, both teams traded empty possessions before Sequatchie County’s Austin Stevens scored on a 6-yard run coupled with a missed PAT to tie it up at 20 a piece. In the fourth, with about five minutes to go, the Indians pulled ahead with a 1-yard run by quarterback Ethan Barker. The ensuing drive for the Pirates resulted in a 10-yard loss, a miraculous first down, and a failed hail mary on fourth down. That would give the Indians a 27-20 victory over the Pirates for their second straight home win against South Pittsburg.
(No. 6) Yellow Jackets Nearly Take Down Dekalb County
Going into this matchup, the Yellow Jacket had only one win to their name against Cannon County by a one-point margin while the Tigers were a borderline playoff contender and heavy favorites, even on the road. Even with Grundy County’s fluke from 2015 where they stood toe-to-toe until the very end, not much was expected from a bottom-feeder Region 4-3A team.
The Yellow Jackets would take the first swing in the second quarter, adding on the two-point conversion as they took an 8-0 lead into the locker room. Dekalb County took little time in the thrid quarter fighting back with a Pick-Six by Bradley Miller with another two-point conversion to knot things up at 8.
Quarterback Hagen Cash would again find senior Kevin Castro on a 54-yard pass later in the third to go up 14-8. Into the fourth quarter, they extended the lead to 22-8 after a 15-yard passing touchdown, this time to Evan Nunley. Down 14, the Tigers fought back for their first offensive touchdown of the game on a 5-yard pass from Tyler Cantrell to Matthew Poss.
With just a few minutes left, Cantrell threw a 77-yard pass for a touchdown to Riley Sexton before Poss added the extra point. Now tied up 22-22, Dekalb County got the ball back and drove to the one-yard line where only seven-tenths of a second remained on the clock. Poss came on to kick the game winner, and the Tigers left Coalmont in celebration after a crazy night on the gridiron.