South-Doyle a tough challenge for Bears
Here is Sevier County, in familiar position atop the Inter Mountain Athletic Conference.
But the Smoky Bears, even at 8-1, can’t rest just yet.
“We want to win our conference championship. In order to do that we have to win Friday,” said Sevier County coach Steve Brewer. “It’s crazy when you think about being 8-1 and not having lost a game in the (district) and yet it comes down to week 10. It’s happened before. This year’s no exception. We’re playing a good football team, an explosive team.”
The Bears head to South-Doyle tonight to play the Cherokees (6-3, 5-1 2-AAA). South-Doyle’s only district loss came last week against another one-loss team, Morristown East. That means an outright district crown very much hangs in the balance for Sevier County (8-1, 6-0).
“It’s a huge game,” said Bears senior Logan Brett. “Four years ago, my brother, they started the IMAC tradition winning IMACs. We’ve won four in a row. Our motto since summer’s been ‘One for the thumb.’ ”
Sevier County has won 26 district games in a row dating back to a 28-14 loss to Jefferson County on Sept. 20, 2010. That stretch includes three wins over the Cherokees by an average of 25 points.
But South-Doyle has been steadily improving since a winless season in 2009, reaching seven wins last year. This year’s team may be one of the most dangerous yet, racking up an eye-popping 500 yards rushing in a win over Seymour earlier this year. The Cherokees have three rushers who have eclipsed 300 yards, led by 1,367 yards from Jocquez Bruce. Brody Rollins has 727 yards on the year and Malik Lundy has run for 331 yards.
It’s those big-play threats the Bears must guard against.
“It’s not always easy,” said defensive end Bailey Fields. “Our coaches try to come up with stunts so we can be in position to make plays. Really, it’s just doing what we’re coached to do. If we do that, we can be in a position to make plays.”
Those coaches already had game film ready for Brett by Saturday morning. The Bears faced similar big-play threats last week in Jefferson County’s Dearies Jones and Malik Styles. The defense played well at times but a couple busts — most notably on Jones’ 95-yard touchdown run in the first half — kept the Patriots in the game during the fourth quarter.
Another district title could come down to avoiding those mistakes.
“It’s disheartening but it’s a good learning experience that your job matters,” Brett said. “You never know when you could be the guy to spring a guy loose if you don’t do the thing you’re supposed to do on that play. You just got to look at every play and realize your job’s important. It could affect the outcome of a game or a series or possibly a season.”