Farragut at Morristown West — Friday, 7:30 p.m. — Burke-Toney Stadium
Morristown West can ill afford to let one mistake snowball into many.
Such has sent the Trojans on a three-game slide since their 23-19 win over Morristown East in the Citizen Tribune Kickoff Classic, most recently last week’s 45-17 loss at former conference rival Cherokee which saw West give up 24 straight points after tying the game 7-7.
The snowball effect must become a thing of the past as the Trojans return to conference play seeking to take a step toward their first playoff berth since 2016.
“That goes on me. I have to do a better job of getting these guys to snap out of it and get ready for the next play and not let one mistake turn into five,” West coach Dr. Alvin Sanders said. “We’ve got to keep playing, no matter what’s going on.”
Undergoing a losing skid of its own, Farragut (1-2, 0-0) has lost consecutive games since its 37-30 win at Bradley Central to open the season. Knox West won at Farragut 24-13 in Week 2 before the Admirals followed their bye week with a 21-14 loss at Oak Ridge last week.
West’s defense surrendered 450 yards of offense in last week’s loss at Cherokee, 231 passing and 219 rushing. And the Trojans haven’t been able to get much pressure on opposing quarterbacks with just 4 sacks this season.
“We feel like we should have at least 10 sacks right now. We’ve had the quarterback tackled for a loss multiple times but we’ve missed tackles,” Sanders said. “We’re addressing it as a group…but there’s no excuse for being a young football team. We have to go out and play. We realize that”
Justin Dilbeck was involved in both of West’s tackles behind the line of scrimmage, with Dylan Whilden on an assist.
For the year, Dilbeck is the Trojans’ leading tackler with 19 total tackles with 1 sack and 2 1/2 TFL. Junior Diakelmad, who has 17 tackles, has a sack and 2 TFL as does Dominick Hazeltine while Corson Olodey has 1 1/2 TFL which includes a sack.
Tison Johnson leads West with 3 pass breakups, and Zach Christensen has the Trojans’ lone interception of 2019.
Nick Hildebrand and Terrell Lovell have each forced 1 fumble, and Dilbeck recorded one of the Trojans’ six fumble recoveries in the end zone for a touchdown at Jefferson County.
Led by 24th-year head coach Eddie Courtney, who guided the Admirals to a Class 5A state title in 2016, Farragut gained 382 yards in its season opening win highlighted by junior running back Matt White (6-0, 180) running the ball 27 times for 187 yards and a pair of scores. White ran for 113 yards and a score against Knox West.
The Admirals feature a senior-heavy passing attack to complement White.
Senior quarterback Gavin Wilkinson (6-4, 175) completed 14-of-26 passes for 164 yards and 1 touchdown against 2 interceptions. Tight end/wide receiver Alec Keathley (6-3, 215) was Wilkinson’s top target with 7 receptions for 75 yards and the score while Hunter Shopovick (6-2, 185) caught 3 for 55 and Isaiah Arrington (5-11, 145) grabbed a 25-yard pass. All three receivers are seniors.
Wilkinson completed 17-of-33 for 207 yards against Knox West, with Shopovick catching 4 passes for 98 yards while Keathley had 51 yards on 4 catches and Arrington added 28 on 5 receptions.
Senior inside linebacker and running back Gabe Hensley (6-0, 180) scored his third rushing touchdown of the season from a yard out at Oak Ridge with Wilkinson finding Keathley for a 28-yard TD strike as the Admirals led 14-0 only to allow 21 unanswered points.
Senior tackle A’koiyea Johnson (6-1, 185) leads the O-line for Farragut, which is capable of lining up with two tight ends or five wide without changing personnel.
“This is probably one of the most complete Farragut teams I’ve seen in a long time,” Sanders said. “They were talented last year, but this group plays as a team. They’re very high powered.”
West’s offense ran for just 134 yards at Cherokee, led by a 67-yard effort from Hunter Delaney on 10 carries while Neyland Gordon carried 10 times for 38 and a 2-yard touchdown while JoJo Madeano followed up his 27-yard pass reception with an 8-yard TD to tie the game in the first quarter.
Through four games, Gordon leads West on the ground with 181 yards on 40 attempts with 2 scores while Delaney has 144 yards and 1 score on 25 attempts.
Dylan Cribley went 10-of-17 passing for 95 yards, finding Lovell 4 times for 28 yards and Jackson Cole twice for 21. Cole now sits at 96 yards on 8 receptions while Connor Patrick has 118 yards receiving on 10 catches, both team highs. Cribley is 39-of-70 for 478 yards and 4 touchdowns against 1 interception through four games in addition to his 73 yards rushing.
“We’ve got to have a sense of urgency and play with tempo. It starts with our offensive line as usual. They’ve fixed some small technique issues we’ve continued to address, and we’re very proud of them. Now we just challenged them and the entire offense to keep coming along with that,” Sanders said. “At times in the game, we’ve looked very good offensively but we haven’t played a complete game yet. That’s the challenge offensively, to put it all together.”
Farragut’s linebacking corps of sophomore Dylan Cosey (6-2, 185) and junior Eli Purcell (6-2, 225) both have 3 TFL for the season and have combined for 3 sacks. Junior linebacker Andrew Doane (5-10, 185) has a pair of stops behind the line.
In the secondary, senior Jackson Fontenot (6-0, 185) and junior Grant Rice (5-10, 155) have each intercepted a pass while Keathley returned a fumble 32 yards against Bradley Central.
Clark Schechter (6-1, 200), a senior, as well as juniors Trey Nesbitt (6-2, 210), J.T. Sudderth (5-8, 260) and Dawson Brown (6-3, 180) help anchor Farragut’s three-man front.
Although it’s homecoming week at West, the Trojans are used to distractions by now having played in the Citizen Tribune Kickoff Classic against Morristown East and in a televised game at Jefferson County.
“Just like any other time, I want our guys to enjoy it. This is a fun time for our school and our community,” Sanders said. “But we’re demanding each other that when it comes time for football that we’ve got to lock in and get the most out of each other.”
West and Farragut had never met on the gridiron until the Trojans moved up to Class 6A for the 2017 realignment. Since then, Farragut has won both meetings — 33-10 at Farragut in 2017 and last year’s 42-7 triumph at Burke-Toney Stadium.
The Trojans and Admirals kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday night from Burke-Toney Stadium.