SNEEDVILLE – Going into a playoff game without your starting quarterback is a tough obstacle to overcome. Entering a playoff game without your starter or backup provides a nearly impossible challenge.
However, on Friday night against Coalfield, Hancock County had it even worse. The Indians starting, backup and third string quarterbacks were all out for the game with injuries. At times, Preston Hatfield, who also played on the defensive line, took the snap under center as the team’s quarterback.
While Hancock did the best they could with what they had, the Indians were no match for Coalfied who were victorious 42-6 in the first round of the TSSAA 1-A playoffs.
“It’s pretty tough (to prepare with all the injuries),” Hancock County head coach Brandon Gibbs said. “We’re very one dimensional and can’t do much because of all the injuries. Every team has injuries, but it seems like we lost players at some very key positions that made it difficult for us.”
While they did give up 42 points, the Hancock defense shined at times during Friday night’s game. Down 7-0 early and with Coalfield on offense again, Josh Bolden picked off a pass from Coalfield quarterback Peyton McKinney and took it 40 yards to the end zone to make it an 8-6 game.
Later in the half, the Indians defense came up with two fourth-down stops deep in their territory to keep the Yellow Jackets off the board. Hancock’s Daylian Barger also forced a fumble in the second half that the Indians were able to recover.
“That was excellent because the last time we played Coalfield, I don’t think we stopped them at all,” Gibbs said. “To be able to get a few stops, that was good. That’s one positive thing that we can take away and encourage our guys with.”
Hatfield led the Indians defense with 16 tackles and seemed to be all over the field throughout the game.
Despite the turnovers and fourth-down stops though, Coalfield’s offense hit the Indians with big play after big play.
The Yellow Jackets scored on the second play of the game on a 60-yard pass. They would score twice on thirty-yard passes as well as a 21-yard pass. The Yellow Jackets staked out a 36-6 lead at the half.
Using their fourth string quarterback, Hancock struggled to get anything going offensively. Treybeon Cooper was the Indians quarterback and threw for 37 yards and an interception. With Hatfield at quarterback, Hancock still had struggles and Hatfield through an interception deep in their own territory as well.
The Indians went to the running game for most of the night, using Jadon Royston the majority of the time.
Royston struggled to gain momentum but did have a 40-yard run in the third quarter. Royston finished with 64 yards but left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.
“The play offensively was not to fumble and to run the ball to keep them honest and try and hit them with some screens,” Gibbs said. “But we just didn’t have the ability to move the ball downfield.”
Coalfied moves on to the second round next Friday when they travel to take on top ranked Greenback.
The Indians finished the season with a 3-8 record.
“We’re losing a lot of seniors, so we’ll need guys to step up next season,” Gibbs said. “With some of these injuries, we’ve put some younger guys in so hopefully they’ll be prepared and ready to compete next season.”