For the first time since 2016, William Blount will return to the Class 6A state playoffs. The Governors will open up their postseason run Friday at Dobyns-Bennett.
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Governors knew that they had to win their final two games to have a shot to advance to the postseason.
“The attitude of our kids has been pretty steady throughout the year,” William Blount head coach Philip Shadowens said. “During the last couple weeks of the season, we knew we were in a must win position, so we were playing with a little more sense of urgency, but the kids have worked hard all year.”
Going into its final game, William Blount needed to defeat Lenoir City and needed help from Cleveland. With their game in hand against Lenoir City, everyone was keeping track of Cleveland’s game against Ooltewah. In the end, both scenarios played out to WB’s advantage.
While the Governors are thrilled to be back in the playoffs, they know that they are going to have to play the best that they have all season to advance past a tough challenge in Dobyns-Bennett.
“Our team is going into this game with a lot of confidence winning our last two games, and you can tell that they are not satisfied to just make the playoffs,” Shadowens said. “We have watched a lot of film on them this week and we know they are going to try to run the ball first but have the ability to pass as well. The game is going to come down to who wins at the line of scrimmage.
The Indians are coming off an 8-2 regular season and were the Region 1 champions. After winning its first eight games, Dobyns-Bennett dropped its final two to Science Hill and Alcoa. The Indians are known for having an explosive offense, but in their two losses they have been contained.
Over their first eight games, the Indians averaged 38.5 points, but managed 23 points combined over their final two. William Blount will look to pull off the same strategy to keep Dobyns-Bennett in check by being aggressive.
“We know who they have beat and who they have not beat,” Shadowens said. “This is a new season for everyone beginning on Friday. It doesn’t matter who you have played or what your record is for the regular season. Every game here on out is a new 48-minute season.”
On the offensive side, William Blount will look to keep the defense of Dobyns-Bennett off balance by mixing the run and the pass. The Governors have had consistent play out of junior quarterback Trey Clemmer this season, who has thrown for over 1300 yards and four touchdowns.
In the running game, the Governors rely on two backs, Micah Franklin and Seth Cooper. Franklin leads the team in rushing yards with 861 yards, and Cooper leads the team in touchdowns with 11. The ability to mix the run and pass game will be important for William Blount if it wants to pull off the upset and advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“We have to be consistent the way we have been all season,” Shadowens said. “With the exception of our game against Maryville, we have been in every game and have a chance to win late in the game.
“This game is going to be a special atmosphere. They have been in our region in the past, and we are excited to get to go back and play them. Dobyns-Bennett has a nice football facility and they have a good team, but we will have our team ready to play. It is going to be an exciting game.”