Sullivan Central head football coach Chris Steger and his football players, as well as the Sullivan Central community, will never forget last Friday night as long as they live.
Three and a half years of football frustration and the state’s longest losing streak at 36 games were washed away as the Cougars held on to beat region 1-4A rival Sullivan East 51-42 as senior quarterback Jackson Harrison passed for 155 yards and three touchdowns.
Junior running back Joey Byrd also played a huge role in the win as he rushed for 172 yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground as Sullivan Central won for the first time since beating Unicoi County 20-12 on October 30, 2014.
The scene as Harrison took a knee in the victory formation was a testament to the hard work, the players and coaches had been putting forth to finally get a win as the student body rushed the field to celebrate with the players.
A packed stadium took out their phones to record the event and tears flowed as the Cougar players finally saw the hard work playoff with a win.
Posted by Tina N Daniel Horne on Sunday, October 7, 2018
“It was such a great scene and everyone who was there will never forget,” Steger said. “I think I ran every emotion because I was so proud of every one of my players and my coaches and I’m so thankful for everyone in this wonderful community.”
“I’m definitely happy for the 12 seniors that we have because they have put the most work in and they get to experience a win,” Steger continued.
The win not only broke the state’s longest losing streak but a 22 game region losing streak as well.
When he was hired three seasons ago, Steger, a 1997 Elizabethton graduate knew he had a lengthy rebuilding process ahead of him but it was a challenge he was willing to take on.
“I’m not going to lie without a great coaching staff and the unbelievable community support that we have, seeing the improvement we have made from game to game and season to season would not have happened and there would have been a lot of frustrated people here and thankfully we haven’t had that,” Steger said.
“The administration and the community have worked great with the coaches and we are all on the same page and that what makes the win so enjoyable because everyone got to be a part of it.”
For Steger, the win marked his first head coaching win of his career and it’s one he will never forget.
Since the last win in 2014, the Cougars have been outscored 1,495 (41.5) to 331 (9.2) and been shut out 12 times in 36 games.
Under Steger’s leadership, the Cougars despite the ugly numbers have improved year to year as evidenced in how many games they have been competitive in.
In 2016, the Cougars had only one game that the outcome was within 21 points as they lost to Sullivan South 27-6, the other nine games they were outscored 52.3 to 5.0.
Last season, they had two games within 21 points, losing 21-7 to Chuckey Doak and 35-20 to Union County and the other nine games they were defeated by an average of 46.4 to 8.1.
This season has been a vast improvement as their first four games were all within 18 points as they dropped games to Sullivan North 30-20, Chuckey Doak 28-26, Johnson County 34-27 and Sullivan South 33-15.
“We could have gotten a win early this year but the ball didn’t our way but to see how hard the kids are competing and how far we have come makes it all worthwhile,” Steger said.
The current longest losing streak statewide will now belong to White County and White House Heritage who both have lost 21 straight games.
Sullivan Central wasn’t the only school that not only got their first win of the year but they broke double-digit losing streak as
McMinn Central, Humboldt and Stewart County got wins.
McMinn Central 22, Bledsoe Co. 21– The Chargers erased a 14-0 second quarter deficit as quarterback Ethan Evans scored to trim the Bledsoe County lead to 21-20 and running back Nate Austin added the game-winning two-point conversion as McMinn Central broke a 19 game losing streak.
Austin rushed for 189 yards as the Chargers won for the first time since beating Notre Dame 27-21 on October 21, 2016
“I’m just so happy for the boys to get this streak behind them, as they have worked so hard all season long and we finally played a complete game. We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the loses from people in the school and community, but they kept working and fighting and had a good night as a result,” McMinn Central coach Josh Goodin said.
Humboldt 68, Gleason 42– Humboldt had only scored 20 points on the season before Friday.
The Viking offense broke out in a big way against region 7-1A opponent Gleason as junior quarterback Malik Cox had a monster game as he accumulated 586 yards of total offense.
He rushed for 243 yards and three touchdowns while also completing 10 of 17 passes for 343 yards and three more touchdowns as the Vikings snapped a 16 game losing streak and it also broke a nine game region losing streak as well.
Wide receiver Quinton Verser also had a big game with 206 total yards (four catches for 152 yards and 54 rushing yards) and three touchdowns in the win.
The last win for the Vikings came back on November 4, 2016 as they beat KIPP Academy in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs.
Stewart Co. 14, East Hickman 12– The Rebels snapped a 13 game losing streak as running back Willie Reynolds scored the game winner.
Reynolds had 59 yards rushing and quarterback Will Page added a touchdown run and led the Rebels with 72 yards rushing.
Defensive back Elijah Smith had two crucial interceptions for the Stewart County defense as the Rebels last win was 40-14 victory over Fulton County in week four of last season.
“It’s been a long time coming. I feel we gave two games away earlier in the season,” Stewart County coach Chanz Swartz said.
“I am proud because the team kept fighting and the win finally came and it will give us some momentum moving forward. We have been on the road for the last four weeks and it will be nice finishing up at home the last two games.”
Undefeated No More
Two undefeated teams in Brentwood Academy and Columbia Academy were beaten on Friday and saw their winning streaks go by the wayside.
McCallie 31, Brentwood Academy 27– Blue Tornado senior linebacker Dane Beard made the biggest play of his career as with his team trailing 27-23, Beard stepped in front of a Brentwood Academy receiver and intercepted a Wade Williams pass and returned it 32 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
The loss snaps BA’s 24 game winning streak which was second only behind Lausanne as the Eagles last loss was a 31-24 loss to MBA back in 2016.
It was the first win for McCallie head coach Ralph Potter against Brentwood Academy since leaving BA and coming back home to McCallie in 2012.
Going into the contest, Potter was 0-8 against the Eagles, a school where he was the head coach for six seasons (2006-11).
It was also McCallie’s first win against the Eagles since September 15, 2006 when they won 28-21 in the regular season as BA had won the last 14 games against the Blue Tornado.
Behind the strong running game led by junior quarterback DeAngelo Hardy and sophomore running back B.J. Harris, McCallie out gained BA 435 to 261 as Hardy rushed for 187 yards and scored a touchdown in the win.
FRA 43, Columbia Academy 14– FRA is hitting their stride after losing their first two games of the season.
The Panthers have won five straight games as they have outscored their opponents 184 (36.8) to 45 (9.0) during their five-game winning streak as they gave Columbia Academy their first loss of the season.
Senior running back Brogan Wilson had a monster game as he rushed for 214 yards and scored three touchdowns on just nine carries to pace the FRA offense.
The loss for Columbia Academy snaps their 14 game regular season winning streak and the Bulldogs will now head into a huge region 5-2A matchup this week as they travel to take on Eagleville (5-2).
Notched First Wins
East Ridge, Memphis Overton, and Whites Creek got their first wins of the 2018 season on Friday night.
East Ridge 22, Chattanooga Central 15– The Pioneers (1-6) got their first win of the season and dealt Chattanooga Central (4-3) their first region 2-4A loss of the season as quarterback Alonzo Russell had 270 yards of total offense scoring two touchdowns on the ground and also had a touchdown pass as well.
Memphis Overton 42, Bolton 0– The Wolverine offense broke out in a big way as they broke an eight-game losing streak and kept Bolton winless with the shutout victory.
Running back Macarez Chatman had 150 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns while quarterback Dallas Luckett passed for 130 yards on two touchdowns in the win.
Whites Creek 26, Hunters Lane 6 –The Cobras gave head coach Clifton Davis his first win at Whites Creek as they broke a nine-game losing streak.
Freshman quarterback Cameron Davis passed for 256 yards and two touchdowns and also added a third touchdown on the ground as Hunters Lane is still winless on the year.
Eight schools with losing records going into Friday night got huge wins that should give them momentum heading into the last three games of the season.
CAK 34, Knoxville Grace 21– The Warriors (2-6) scored a big Division II-AA East region win over their cross-town rival Knoxville Grace (3-4) as freshman quarterback Walker Strange passed for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore Gavin Cagle also rushed for 140 yards and scored a touchdown on offense and led the defensive effort as he made 10 tackles and forced a fumble.
Collinwood 48, McEwen 34– Collinwood got a big region 6-1A win as junior running back Carson Ramson rushed for 89 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Trojans are now tied for second in region 6-1A behind undefeated Huntingdon.
The Trojans (3-4) also got three total touchdowns from quarterback Jeremiah Tidwell (two rushing, one pass) and two more touchdowns from junior Cole Layton as they beat McEwen (5-3) for the third straight season.
Haywood 41, Crockett County 14– The Tomcats got a key region 7-4A win with a big win over Crockett County.
Tomcat quarterback Deyondrius Hines had a monster game as he rushed for four touchdowns as Haywood County broke a three-game losing streak to even their overall record to 4-4 on the year.
With the win, Haywood is now 2-1 in the region and the loss for Crockett County (5-3) puts the Cavaliers in a three-way tie for third place at 1-2 with Ripley and Obion County.
Howard 49, Sequoyah 0– The Hustling Tigers defense was the big story in the shutout win over Sequoyah.
Howard (2-4) forced four Chief turnovers (two interceptions and two fumbles) and limited Sequoyah (5-3) to only 153 yards of total offense (89 rushing, 64 passing).
The Howard offense was paced by running back Davontay Smith scored three touchdowns on the ground while quarterback Marquez Williams had two touchdown runs as well.
Macon County 21, Portland 12– After losing their first two games of the season, Macon County have gained momentum winning three of last five games as they beat Portland for the third straight season.
With the win over Portland, it marks the first time since 1970 that Macon has beaten Portland three straight times, since beating them four times from 1967-70.
The Tigers (3-4) got 153 yards passing from junior quarterback Jon Mark Gammons as he tossed touchdowns to Chris Oliver and Issac Belton as they jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead as the loss drops Portland to 6-2 on the season.
Morristown West 18, Jefferson County 17– Despite a 3-4 overall record, Morristown West got yet another win over rival Jefferson County Friday night.
Trojan quarterback Zack Young had 291 total yards (184 passing and 107 rushing) and scored two touchdowns as Morristown West defeated Jefferson County for the 11th consecutive year.
The last Jefferson County (4-4) win in the series came back in 2007 as the Patriots won 35-20.
Science Hill 17, Hardin Valley 3– Hilltopper junior running back Chris Thomas came up big when his team really needed him in a win over Hardin Valley.
In a low scoring game, Thomas was big as he rushed for 211 yards and scored a touchdown as Science Hill (3-5) beat the Hawks (4-3) for the second consecutive year.
Union City 30, Gibson County 22– Death. Taxes. Yet another win for Union City over West Carroll.
The Golden Tornadoes (3-4), the defending Class 2A state champions got a huge rushing performance from Kaleb Craig as they defeated West Carroll for the 16th straight time.
Craig rushed for 245 yards and scored twice as Union City ran for 394 yards and only attempted one pass in the win over then No. 6 (1A) West Carroll (6-2).
Arlington’s Walker Commits to Kent State
Kenneth Walker III is heading to play college football in the Mid American Conference.
Walker III (5-9, 190) took to Twitter and announced that he has committed to Kent State.
“I want to thank the lord for this opportunity, without him this would not be possible, I am so very blessed to be in this position I’m in. I also want to thank my parents and my coaches and everyone who has supported me throughout this process, it means so much to me. This process has been a great experience and I’ve enjoyed all of it. I will be taking my commitment to Kent State University,” Walker III tweeted.
Walker is the 17th commitment for Kent State in the Class of 2019 and he chose the Golden Flashes over offers from Arkansas State, Eastern Kentucky, Illinois State, Indiana State, Mercer, Old Dominion, and Western Illinois.
So far this season, Walker III has rushed for 1,328 yards and has scored 26 total touchdowns for Arlington (5-3).
The following 70 players have committed in the Class of 2019:
Arlington running back Kenneth Walker III (Kent State), Blackman wide receiver Trey Knox (Arkansas), St. George’s defensive end Justin Bray (Mercer), Hillsboro athlete Gyasi Mattison (Memphis), CPA linebacker Kane Patterson (Clemson), Nolensville quarterback Brandon Wharton II (Murray State), Clarksville Academy quarterback Bryce Robinson (Austin Peay), Whitehaven offensive guard Melvin McBride (Tennessee), Columbia Academy defensive back Rush Lansdell (UT-Martin), FRA defensive tackle Tymon Mitchell (Georgia), Lausanne defensive back Erek Campbell (Austin Peay), Whitehaven defensive back Vincent Guy (UT-Martin), Oakland running back Xavier Myers (Illinois State), Briarcrest quarterback Jackson Walker (Richmond), Blackman defensive back Adonis Otey (Arkansas), Ensworth defensive back Wesley Walker (Georgia Tech), Independence wide receiver T.J. Sheffield (Purdue), Centennial running back Jariel Wilson (Austin Peay), Hillsboro defensive end Joseph Honeysucker (Memphis), Christian Brothers offensive guard Jacob Likes (Memphis), Whitehaven tight end Cormontae Hamilton (Ohio State), Lausanne defensive back Cameron Sims (Central Arkansas), Farragut wide receiver Tanner Corum (Southern Illinois), Farragut wide receiver Jaden Gibbs (UT-Martin), Mt. Juliet kicker Robbie Brewington (Cumberland), Mt. Juliet punter Matt Pewitt (Cumberland), FACS strong safety Carson Evans (UT-Martin), Watertown athlete Heath Price (Tennessee Tech), Blackman wide receiver Micaleous Elder (MTSU), Pearl Cohn quarterback Xavier Shepard (Kennesaw State), MUS linebacker Dorian Hopkins (Tulsa), Greeneville quarterback Cade Ballard (Army), BGA running back Jaylen Frierson (ETSU), Lebanon defensive end Zion Logue (Georgia), Elizabethton offensive tackle Garrett Jennings (Western Kentucky), ECS kicker Chandler Caughron (Central Arkansas), Smyrna defensive tackle Marlon Alexander (Gardner Webb), Farragut running back Isaiah Gibbs (UT-Martin), Pearl Cohn defensive tackle Elijah Simmons (Tennessee), Oakland defensive back Woodi Washington (Oklahoma), Maplewood defensive back Travares Springer (Western Kentucky), CPA tight end Bryce McCormick (Furman), Lausanne running back Eric Gray (Michigan), Pearl Cohn wide receiver Jayden Harrison (Vanderbilt), Science Hill offensive tackle Blake Austin (Coastal Carolina), FRA athlete Lance Wilhoite (Oregon), Cordova offensive lineman Matthew Bedford (Indiana), BGA linebacker Chico Bennett (Georgia Tech), Whitehaven athlete Devin Boddie (Vanderbilt), Red Bank athlete Calvin Jackson (Wofford), Whitehaven athlete Keveon Mullins (South Carolina), Davidson Academy quarterback Stone Norton (Florida International), Christian Brothers defensive end Christian James (Vanderbilt), Germantown tight end Conner Richardson (Tulane), Dyersburg linebacker Chris Russell (Memphis), Karns athlete Thomas Harper (Oklahoma State), MBA linebacker Jackson Hannah (Nebraska), Oakland defensive end Joseph Anderson (South Carolina), Davidson Academy running back Da’Joun Hewitt (Purdue), Davidson Academy defensive end Ani Izuchukwu (Mississippi State), Greeneville wide receiver Dorien Goddard (Virginia), Memphis Central defensive tackle Trevis Hopper (Memphis), Greeneville tight end Cameron Hite (Wake Forest), Christian Brothers defensive end Bill Norton (Georgia), MUS defensive back Maurice Hampton (LSU), MBA offensive lineman Jackson Lampley (Tennessee), Kirby quarterback Jaden Johnson (Louisville), Independence quarterback Nathan Cisco (Idaho), Grace Christian Academy offensive tackle Wes Dorsey (Western Kentucky) and Friendship Christian defensive tackle Luke Smith (Appalachian State).
Contact Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @Examine_Stew