Blount Press Row

Parker Brothers

Talented William Blount Middle rallies around star to reach title game

Governor running back Parker McGill mugs for the camera at a recent practice. William Blount Middle hosts Sevierville Middle in the East Tennessee Middle School Football Conference championship game on Saturday. Photos by Keith Driver

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Even the kicker’s got skills.

“You’re going to hear from him at the high school level,” William Blount Middle coach Rick Young said. “He’s going to be special.”

Linebacker Dalton Willis gets set at a recent practice.

Linebacker Dalton Willis gets set at a recent practice.

Thing is, the same could be said for a whole bunch of Job Matossian’s Governor teammates. From running back Parker McGill to linebacker Dalton Willis, this is a special group.

You just aren’t going to believe offensive/defensive lineman Tyler Jeffries.

He’s 6-foot-2, 205 pounds … and a sixth-grader.

The unbeaten Governors host Sevierville Middle in the East Tennessee Middle School Football Conference championship game on Saturday at William Blount High’s Mike White Field.

Kickoff is noon.

Maryville Junior High and Heritage Middle meet in the third-place game at 10 a.m.

William Blount Middle enters the title game with an 8-0 record. McGill and Willis have laid waste to the program’s records for rushing and defense, dating back to when there actually was a William Blount Middle School.

The current program is a combination of Carpenters and Union Grove middle, two small schools who struggled to keep pace with their bigger Blount County cousins on their own.

The idea was the brainchild of William Blount High athletics director Justin Ridge, who convinced Young to walk away from the Fairview Raiders, one of the area’s elite youth programs, to take the job.

The team went 5-3 in each of its first two seasons. During summer workouts in July, Young said he began to see something different about Team 3.

William Blount Middle coach Rick Young has the Governors in the title game in only their third season as a program.

William Blount Middle coach Rick Young has the Governors in the title game in only their third season as a program.

“It was miserable out there,” he said, “and I noticed they started pulling for each other in conditioning. It’s like they said, ‘We’re all in this together. We’ve got to help each other pull through this. Nobody left behind.”

A Week 3 visit to Seymour Middle did the rest.

“We go in at halftime (down, 8-7), and the kids didn’t panic,” Young said. “That told me they can handle some adversity. That’s when I knew we could be pretty good. I realized, ‘We’re growing up.’”

The Governors haven’t looked back since. Even the teachers at Carpenters and Union Grove have taken notice, McGill said.

“Every time you go out in the hall, one of the teachers is thanking you,” he said. “I think it’s kind of cool.”

“It’s nice hearing your name on the announcements,” Willis said.

McGill has ripped opposing defenses for 1,176 yards rushing and 19 total touchdowns in eight games.

His scores include a punt and a kickoff returned for touchdowns, with a reception for another.

He’s had three scores of 60 yards or better nullified by penalty.

“He’s the whole package,” Young said. “The thing about him is Parker works harder than anybody. Some kids, when they have that kind of talent, will just rely on the talent. Parker wants to be perfect on every play. He holds himself to a high standard

“What I like about him is he’s not only a good player — he makes me look good as a coach — but he takes his teammates with him.”

Willis went by any known records for tackles by the fourth game. The Governor linebacker enters the championship game with a program-record 65 stops all told, including 15 tackles for loss.

Sixth-grader Tyler Jeffries (71) engages his block.

Sixth-grader Tyler Jeffries (71) engages his block.

In the pivotal win at Seymour, Willis collected 13 tackles, four for loss, a feat he duplicated in a 7-0 win over county-rival Maryville Junior High, adding a sack.

“Dalton has probably said 30 words all year,” Young said, “and I’m talking back to the spring. He just dominates with his play.

“Any other year, he would have been our running back, and a pretty good one. When he gets to the next level, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone says, ‘We need to put the ball in his hands.’”

While McGill and Willis are the headliners, there’s so much more to these Governors.

Tyler Brown excels at taking out linebackers to clear running room for McGill. The fullback/linebacker returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown this season.

Blake Fields is a coming attraction at receiver.

“He’s made some big catches for us down the field,” Young said.

Izavion Johnson is a name to file away for future reference at linebacker.

Jeffries is only one cog in a really big line.

“He’s actually a 12-year-old,” Young said. “He was practicing with (a youth team), and his dad said, ‘I think he’s going to be wasting his time down here.’ We said, ‘We agree.’”

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