Jefferson County at Knox West Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Bill Wilson Field
DANDRIDGE — There’s a reason Spencer Riley has rarely singled out any one player on defense — they’ve all delivered and done their jobs. And the statistics show it.
Jefferson County’s defense came through again in Week 3, holding conference rival Morristown West to 140 yards of total offense as the Patriots (3-0) won its conference opener for the first time since 2010 in addition to starting 3-0 for the first time since 2003.
Apparently, the Patriots are taking the “100/0” signs posted in their locker room to heart — that is, “bring your 100.”
“It’s ‘bring your 100’ every day for the betterment of the football team. We’re buying in on that and it shows,” Riley said. “Our kids are flying around and doing a good job of getting where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there. We just have to continue to improve in our fundamentals.”
A familiar face and his team stand between the Patriots and their first 4-0 start since 1992, when a lineman named Spencer Riley was in his sophomore season at JCHS.
Friday will mark the first time the Patriots and Class 5A’s 10th-ranked Knox West have faced off on the gridiron but the 10th time JCHS has faced third-year Rebels head coach Lamar Brown, who played at Jefferson County from 1983-86 and was a part of four Class AAA state semifinal appearances and a state runner-up finish with the Patriots. Brown, the head coach at Morristown West from 2008-16, never lost to JCHS as the Trojans’ head coach and holds a 9-0 all-time record against his alma mater.
Brown and the Rebels are off to a 3-0 start with wins over Jefferson County’s conference rivals Bearden (34-31 in overtime) and Farragut (24-13) before last week’s 45-0 conference win over Karns.
“We’ll be an underdog like we’ve been for three weeks and we’re OK with that,” Riley said. “Knox West is a good football team. I have two good friends who are on that staff. I enjoy playing people that I get along with professionally and personally.”
Senior linebacker Andrew Manning was heavily involved in Jefferson County’s 28-20 win over Morristown West, finishing the game with three stops behind the line of scrimmage including one of the Patriots’ four sacks in the contest.
Alex Mojica was responsible for 2 sacks and Reed Manley had the other as the Patriots now have 19 sacks in the young season, Manley leading the way with 3.
The sacks have been a team effort as well with Logan Brewer, Zach Allison, A.J. Baumgardner, Seandavid Workman and Manning all having recording 2 sacks through three contests.
Gage Bolin, who had 8 stops against the Trojans, leads JCHS with 19 tackles. Bolin and J.P. Mills each have 1 interception so far in 2019.
Knox West’s offense should look somewhat familiar to the Patriots, as the Rebels will occasionally spread the field with an empty backfield but typically line up in a two-back set — at times with a tight end.
Junior quarterback Baker Dance (6-2, 178) passed for 154 yards and 3 scores against Bearden, 147 yards and a score at Farragut before completing 3-of-6 for 100 yards and 2 TDs in Week 3.
Senior wideouts Omarian Wright (5-6, 138) and Grant Tierney (5-10, 166) were on the receiving end against Karns, with Wright having gained a team-high 167 yards in receptions this season.
Junior running back Isaiah Mattress (6-1, 196) carried 17 times for 178 yards against Bearden before a 16-carry, 152-yard performance at Farragut, and he gained 67 yards on 6 carries against Karns last week for a season total of 397.
“They’re a lot like we are,” Riley said. “They’re going to pound the football and run power, buck sweep, counter, iso at you and draw. It’ll be who can stop the run and make the big plays in the passing game.”
The aforementioned defense effort opened the door for the JCHS offense to outgain Morristown West 433-140, which included a 265-76 advantage in the running game.
Ayden Houston, who scored the game-winning touchdown against the Trojans from 8 yards, gained 78 on 13 carries with Josh Miller also carrying the pigskin 13 times for 65 yards including a 4-yard TD in the first quarter. Miller’s effort gave him 266 yards on 44 attempts with 5 touchdowns, the last two numbers being team highs.
Bolin has toted the ball 33 times for 231 yards and 2 scores.
“We’re finally healthy enough to be able to play (Houston) there,” Riley said. “It’s been in the works to be able to play him there at some point, but last week is the first time in our skill positions we’ve been healthy.”
As for senior quarterback Tanner Atkins, the dual-threat signal caller completed 9-of-13 passes for 168 yards against West while rushing for a team-best 84 yards, scoring on runs of 20 and 1 yards.
For the season, Atkins is 28-of-46 passing for 413 yards with 3 touchdowns against 3 interceptions, and he’s kept the ball 31 times for 4 touchdowns and a team-high 273 yards.
Seth Parrott caught 2 passes for 63 yards against Morristown West with Austin Lietch grabbed 4 receptions for 56 yards, bringing his team-high season totals to 10 catches for 116 yards. Senior wide receiver Kadarrius Wright hasn’t played this season, but Kade Parker had a 27-yard reception in his first action of 2019 while also having a touchdown reception called back.
They’ll face a tough defense this week led by a pair of senior Arkansas football commits, defensive end Tyrece Edwards (6-2, 234) and outside linebacker Drew Francis (6-3, 197).
Through three games, Edwards has recorded 29 tackles with 3 1/2 sacks and 6 1/2 tackles for a loss.
Francis, who had 2 TFL against Karns, currently sits at 5 1/2 TFL for the season with his best outing against Bearden.
Senior defensive backs Andrew Mixon (6-1, 159) and Hudson Schmid (6-3, 174) both had an interception against Karns.
“I think they run hard and really well. They’re athletic. It definitely gives us some challenges,” said Riley, a former Southeastern Conference football player himself. “I like our group of offensive linemen versus anybody. They play hard first and foremost, and that’s what going to give us the opportunity to win the football game.”
The teams square off from Bill Wilson Field at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.