Mismatch doesn’t dampen rivalry
The Maryville football team has a district showdown with Lenoir City next week to close out the regular season, but that didn’t distract the Rebels from their task at William Blount on Friday night.
Maryville stopped its county rival on the opening possession of the game and then scored – and scored – and continued to score, despite liberal substitutions in the second quarter.
Even when the Governors caught Maryville’s defense out of sync for a 65-yard touchdown run by the ever-versatile Lane Bloom, the Rebels were undeterred in completing their mission, which proceeded rapidly to 42-7 close when the mercy rule went into effect as the second half began.
The Rebels’ commanding performance on both sides of the ball in the first half resulted in 222 yards of offense and limited the Govs to 125, half of which came on Bloom’s explosive run.
The quick start left no doubt about what the outcome would be, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of either team.
Maryville senior back Trenton Shuler, who recorded two TDs in the contest, said it builds some fire when the opponent lives in the same county.
“Oh yeah, you know the people, so it’s a friendly rivalry, and you know they’re getting after it because it’s Maryville, so you want to play your best,” Shuler said.
“We know we can’t think about next week. We have to come out each time and play hard and play like we play.”
That the Rebels can focus on the moment and not be distracted by what comes next, including the playoffs and another run at a state title, is a testament to the leadership of the upperclassmen and coaching staff.
But like Shuler, head coach George Quarles thinks playing a county rival raises the attention level.
“I don’t think there’s any question,” Quarles said. “These kids grow up playing against one another. A lot of them played with kids on the William Blount team in midget league or middle school, so I think there is a little extra juice in these kinds of games.
“I was happy our kids came out and played. We didn’t overlook (William Blount) at all. We came out and played.”
For William Blount, the satisfaction can’t be in the outcome of a contest like this, but coach David Gregory praised the Governors’ competitive spirit.
“We fought hard, but they do a great job and they are well-coached,” said Gregory, who saw three WB players hobble off the field with the aid of trainers during the course of the contest.
“When they go down, you’re very thin. It’s not like (Maryville) where they can put somebody else in there. It’s tough, but the guys fought hard. We told them before the game to play for pride and leave everything out there, and I think they did.”
Dr. Leonard Butts is sports editor emeritus and currently tutoring writing at Pellissippi State.