Sevier County seeks stronger focus

Sep. 08, 2013 @ 07:47 PM

Steve Brewer reached into his pocket and pulled out a slip of paper.

“On the bottom of my itinerary that we post in our dressing room — you can see what it says,” the Sevier County coach said. “It says, ‘Prepare. Don’t  be surprised.’ 

“We talked to them all week. This a team that’s doing a lot better than it did last year. They’re playing a lot better. They feel good about themselves. It showed. ... We weren’t comfortable until we started taking a knee.”

Friday’s 14-10 win over Morristown East (2-1) was certainly more stressful for the Smoky Bears (2-0) than last year’s 49-0 shutout of the Hurricanes. Brewer’s offense stumbled through the first half, failing to score until there were less than two minutes to go. 

Quarterback Luke Manning said that can’t happen again.

“I can’t explain it,” Manning said. “Everybody has their off nights. I promise you, this is our last one. This is our one and only.”

The Bears, including Manning who threw three picks, will need to be sharper this week on the road against Dobyns-Bennett. The Kingsport school was the only team to beat Sevier County last year and the Indians did it twice.

On Friday, Manning had a touchdown through the air and on the ground, and the defense shut out Morristown East in the second half. 

When the Bears did gain momentum, they couldn’t build on it. After their first half touchdown — a short Manning run — it looked like they’d finally figured things out. A long kickoff return from the Hurricanes allowed Morristown East to score in three plays, retaking the lead less than 38 seconds before the half.

“We’re thinking ‘What the heck happened?’ ” Austin Pope said. “I mean, we come out with a good game plan, and we just didn’t succeed tonight on what we planned on doing.”

Sevier County also wasted chances to put the game away and breathe a little easier in the second half. The Bears fourth quarter looked like this: missed field goal, fumble, interception, kneel down. Much like the first half, Sevier County wasted the chance to put valuable points on the board.

“I don’t think we came in with the right mindset tonight,” said Jacob Whaley, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the third quarter. “But that’s going to change next week. We’ve got to come in concentrated and work on our next opponent.”

Struggles aside, the Bears still found a way to win. Manning said that wouldn’t be good enough moving forward.

“Come to work,” Manning said. “We didn’t do much work the past two weeks. We had a week off and kind of came out lackadaisical. It’s not going to happen this week.”