It’s Homecoming week for Morristown East as the Hurricanes play host to Volunteer in a key Region One 5-A contest.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. with the Homecoming festivities scheduled for 7:00.
When looking at the schedules and remaining games, the game will play a big role in determining the final playoff position for the region.
East will carry a 3-3 record into the game and the ‘Canes stand 1-2 in the region while the Falcons are 2-5 overall and 1-3 in league games.
Tennessee High (4-0) and David Crockett (3-0) are unbeaten and play for the lead on Friday night. Daniel Boone (2-1) will also make the playoffs barring some unlikely upsets in the final three weeks.
That only leaves one more spot up for grabs although it wouldn’t necessarily be fourth place according to what happens in other games.
So, East needs a win on Friday. Mathematically, a loss doesn’t mean East is out but would make a berth difficult to come by. The Falcons are in a must-win situation if they want to advance.
Slover said, “We look at it like we have to win the rest of them, but this week for sure. We know if we win, we keep playing.”
Both teams hold victories over Cherokee and have lost to both Tennessee High and Daniel Boone. The Falcons also lost to David Crockett already. Outside the region, Volunteer lost to Sullivan Central and beat Sullivan East.
Volunteer is a much-improved football team according to Slover. “They’re a very capable football team. They’re a big team and play hard. We better be ready to play.
“They’re pretty good up front and they’ve got a running back (Cameron Johnson) that’s a good player and runs really hard,” Slover said. “He’s also got some speed.”
Johnson (5-10, 190) has been the main offensive threat for the Falcons most of the season. Last week, Rayshawn Simmons gained 74 yards running just sweeps and reverses.
The coach described Volunteer quarterback Garrison Barrett (6-3, 220) as a gunslinger. “He’ll scramble around and hang on to the ball and hang on to it and then at the last second he’ll fire the out and make plays.
“Defensively, they’re very impressive,” he added.
Jared Counts (6-0, 191), Jaiden Cutright (5-10, 210) and Johnson are the leaders on defense along with safety Riley Littleton and corners Heath Miller and Colby Lawson.
Miller also starts at wide receiver and is one of the top threats along with Andrew Salyers.
Up front offensively, seniors Braden Allen (5-11, 230), Nate Dean and Aaron Cobb are the nucleus.
The Falcons have a new coach in Jesse McMillan but Slover said they haven’t changed a whole lot offensively. “They’ll do a lot of the same things they’ve done in the past.
“They’ll get in trips with a tight end and they’ll try to run the football at us. He’ll get some yards on us just like he has everybody else they’ve played.”
Slover says his team will have to control the run. “We have to be able to do that and we need to play good assignment football because they use a lot of misdirection.”
The coach talked about his team’s play in a 54-23 win over Sevier County. “I thought we played better up front on both sides of the ball. Defensively, we gave up too many yards after contact on defense and gave up a long pass but other than that I thought we did a good job.
“Offensively, we had a good night because we were able to run the football. That’s what we have to continue to do.”
East quarterback Cole Henson continued to put up unreal numbers. He will break three school career records every time he completes a pass the rest of the season with those being completions, yards and total offense.
His six TD passes last week moved him within one of Nate Valentine’s school mark of 17.
Wide receiver Micah Simpson grabbed two of those scoring passes and moved within three of Jacob Ward’s record 11 TD receptions in a season. He is averaging 23.7 yards on his 19 catches.
Shaffer Harville has caught more passes with 31 for 392 yards and four touchdowns. Trevor Malone has 21 grabs for 295 and three scores.
Sophomore Ethan Ledford now has 590 yards on 100 carries and is averaging 98.3 per game.