The Maryville football team is coming off one of its biggest wins of the season against region opponent, Bradley Central. The Rebels (7-0, 3-0 Region 2-6A) left no questions about their capabilities on defense in their 42-7 victory over a team averaging 48.5 points a game.
What does remain to be seen, Maryville coach Derek Hunt said, is how they will play on the road coming off such an emotional game.
Hunt will get his answer tonight (Friday, Oct. 18) at Ooltewah (2-4, 1-2) in another region matchup.
“We need to come out with some really great energy,” Hunt said. “We tell our kids all the time, ‘You’re only guaranteed 10 games each season. You have to cherish each one of them and take advantage of the opportunity.’”
Maryville defeated Ooltewah, 42-0, last year in what Hunt called the Rebels’ “most complete game of the season.”
However, Maryville and Ooltewah’s matchup the year before that wasn’t quite so smooth for the Rebels. They entered the second quarter tied with Ooltewah, 21-21, and led by a touchdown at halftime before pulling away for a 54-34 victory.
That game was played at Ooltewah — an intense environment capable of throwing opponents off their rhythm.
“It’s an exciting place to play, that’s for sure,” Hunt said. “I think their kids have shown they’re going to play hard and they believe they can win, no matter who the opponent is. When you go on the road to a place like that, it can certainly give you cause for concern.”
Maryville has played well on the road this season, averaging wins by more than 25 points in away games.
The Owls could benefit from coming off a bye week — giving them extra time to prepare. They also boast a stout defensive line that returns most of its players that Hunt indicated the Rebels have struggled blocking.
Leading the way on offense for Ooltewah is Jaequan Greenhill — a shifty running back capable of breaking loose for long touchdown runs. In the Owls’ 31-7 victory over William Blount on Sept. 6, Greenhill scored on a 42-yard run as part of his 134-yard, two-touchdown performance.
However, Maryville has plenty of reason to be optimistic after stifling Bradley Central’s highly-touted offense. The Bears logged 51 rushing yards on 40 carries (1.3 yards per carry). It’s the first game in which they hadn’t put up at least 30 points.
“It certainly gives us confidence knowing that if we play well we have the chance to be competitive in just about any game we play,” Hunt said. “Defensively, we need to be prepared to limit big plays, rally to the football and tackle well.”
Maryville is averaging more than 40 points — exceeding that number in five of its seven games. Last week, quarterback Cade Chambers completed eight of 13 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 121 yards and two scores on seven carries — the second-straight game he has accounted for five touchdowns.
Ooltewah will also have its hands full with senior running back and Tennessee commit Tee Hodge, who returned to action last week after being sidelined for a month with a turf toe injury he suffered against Cleveland on Sept. 6.
That’s all good news for Maryville, but Hunt is far from overlooking Ooltewah.
“In 6A, you can’t afford to show up in any game and not be ready to go,” Hunt said. “We need to make sure we’re at our best, regardless of whether we’re at home or not.”