Prevo returns as Maryville heads to Oak Ridge tonight
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
It’ll be a little different this time around when Maryville takes on Oak Ridge.
Oak Ridge quarterback Rian Hall is more experienced, the Wildcat defense is finding its groove and coach Scott Blade (66-18) has the school from the Atomic City undefeated and ranked once more among the state’s elite going into tonight’s 7 p.m. MyVLT game.
It’s a far cry from the .500 team that left Jim Renfro Field last year with a 31-6 loss — the biggest deficit to a Maryville team in 10 meetings — where Hall, new under center, led the Wildcats to 112 yards of net offense. The Wildcats (4-0) have been a constant No. 7 in the state’s Class 6A Associated Press Poll, just as Maryville has been the constant No. 1 through the first four polls. Maryville (4-0) is coming off a 51-0 win over winless Heritage while Oak Ridge is following up a 35-0 win over winless Halls.
But someone will pick up that first loss tonight at Blankenship Field in Oak Ridge.
“It’s a measuring-stick game. It certainly doesn’t have any district implications but it could have some playoff implications just because of overall record,” Rebel skipper George Quarles, now 183-13 as head coach at MHS, told The Daily Times. “The way it looks we might have several undefeated teams in this quadrant. I think that’s going to be the importance of this game. One of us takes another step toward an undefeated season; the other one obviously gets a loss.”
Maryville, which has won 96 of its last 100 games, got a shot in the arm or leg as the case may be when Shawn Prevo returned to practice Monday after missing two weeks with a shoulder injury suffered in the win over Knox West. The junior back had been averaging better than seven yards a carry through the first three games, using 46 totes to garner 335 yards and seven scores.
“I don’t know if he’s 100 percent yet but he’s practiced all week,” Quarles said of one of the keys to Maryville’s 45 points per game offense. “I think it’s still probably a little sore but he’s taken some contact on it and hadn’t said anything. So far, so good.”
Hall has come on strong and the speed he represents on the scramble is a concern to Quarles, who saw how Cleveland was able to utilize its speed for big plays a month ago.
“We’re going to find out where we are, what we need to work on, how we handle some speed from a team that’s well coached and all over the field. That’s a good thing. It’s a big challenge going over there on a short week,” Quarles said. “I think their quarterback is a lot more comfortable this year then he was last year. You can see a different player now. When a play breaks down, you see his best. He’s very dangerous in those situations with the way he can take off running. Certainly our defense has had a tendency so far to give up some big plays, and they’ve got the ability to make some big plays so that’s obviously a concern.”
The one place Maryville may have the edge is with the short week. The Rebels routine has been not have a routine by the weekly calendar, playing Saturday, Sunday, Friday, off week, Friday and now the first of two Thursday games this season.
“That’s led us to this point, because it isn’t a shock to our guys,” Quarles said. “It would be great to have a full week of practice and the normal routine but that’s not how its worked out, Be it the weather this week, the Thursday game, it’s been an odd week but I think we’ve dealt with it OK. I wouldn’t call the practices we’ve had this week stellar but we have gotten practice in and thank goodness we’ve had this turf here where we haven’t had to worry about a wet field or mud or any of that stuff.”
THE SERIES: The Rebels lead the series 7-3 after four straight wins under Quarles. Oak Ridge and Maryville first met in 1948 in a home and away series under coach Jim Renfro, where the Rebels went 1-1. Nearly 20 years later, another MHS coaching legend, Ted Wilson, renewed the series in 1966 and went 2-2 against Oak Ridge recording consecutive shutouts before being handed the worst loss, point wise, by either team in the series with a 33-7 defeat in 1968. Oak Ridge’s last win came in 1969 and the teams didn’t meet again until realignment when the nondistrict series was renewed in 2009. Maryville has won all four meetings since including the 2010 playoff game that marked the first time the two teams had met twice in one season.