No team had a better month to end the regular season than Morristown East and their defensive resurgence, led by Citizen Tribune All-Lakeway Area Defensive Player of the Year C.J. Livesay, was the driving force behind it.
In the final game of the regular season, Livesay and the ‘Canes defense held a prolific David Crockett attack led by ETSU commit Cade Larkins to 27 points. The victory over the Pioneers is already being considered one of the biggest upsets in school history.
“Defensively, C.J. was our vocal leader,” Morristown East head coach Caleb Slover said. “He got us lined up, and we asked him to do a lot of different things this year and he accepted those challenges, was ready to go and made everyone around him better.”
It didn’t start well for the Morristown East defense who gave up over 20 points in their first six games, including giving up 42 points to Volunteer.
However, after a close loss to Daniel Boone, Livesay took over.
The Hurricanes were victorious over Sevier County in a game that saw Livesay deliver 17 tackles, three for a loss, one sack and forced two fumbles.
The victory over the Smoky Bears served as a wake-up call for Livesay and the Hurricanes defense, who didn’t allow over 28 points for the rest of the year.
For Livesay, the four-game win streak to end the season punctuated a fruitful high school career and gave his younger teammates a chance to build confidence heading into next season.
“Those last four games meant a lot,” Livesay said. “We have a lot of those guys coming back, so it showed those teams that we’re not anything to mess around with. To me, personally that meant a lot seeing those young guys get confidence and winning those games, especially the Crockett game because that was a good football team.”
It was a breakout season for Livesay. A year after recording 43 tackles in his junior season, he nearly tripled that total, recording 105 tackles, eight for loss, three sacks and an interception.
While Livesay acknowledged his success this season, he didn’t take the credit, instead thanking his teammates for allowing him to have the success.
“I can’t take credit for that,” Livesay said. “I’m going to thank my guys up front because, without them making plays when I wasn’t there to make them, it definitely helped us as a team. Also, knowing that I could trust the guys behind me, because they allowed me to go after some plays that I might normally shy away from because I knew they were there to make the play if I couldn’t.”
While his season and high school football career ended after the win over David Crockett, Slover said that his legacy will continue for years to come.
“I think the big thing with him is that he made everything around him better,” Slover said. “No one could key on him, they had to worry about the whole defensive front. He was able to shed blocks too and make plays which I think was really big for him. It was probably a little more difficult for him to make a big stride being on defense, but he really just did a lot of everything for us on the defensive side.”