Blount Press Row

The Kings of 4AA

Alcoa, defending state champion CAK meet Thursday for district crown

Alcoa quarterback Peyton Wall calls the signals as Jarod Crenshaw gestures to a teammate during the Maryville game. The Tornadoes host Christian Academy of Knoxville in the District 4AA championship game Thursday night at Goddard Field. Photos by Brandon Shinn

By Tate Russell
Assistant Editor
Blount Press Row

Thursday night at Alcoa’s Goddard Field, the Nos. 1- and 2-ranked teams in Class 3A football will take the field, but, for the first time all season, Alcoa is in sole possession of the top spot.

Last week the Tornadoes entered the top slot of The Associated Press state poll but shared the spot with district rival and this week’s opponent, Christian Academy of Knoxville. A 30-7 victory over Fulton was enough to move the Tornadoes ahead of the undefeated Warriors.

Landon Turbyfill, right, and Jarod Crenshaw make the stop against Webb.

Kickoff is 7 p.m.

“They’ve been the number one team in the state all year but that doesn’t really matter,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said. “You’ll have the best two teams in the state on the field this week going at each other.”

“This week we want to go out there and prove that we are the number one team in the state and just dominate them on both sides of the ball,” guard Thomas Loy said.

The matchup is truly one of strength against strength. The Warriors come into the contest averaging 49.78 points per game and 51.25 against district foes. The stingy Tornado defense has given up 8.3 points per game and allowed only seven points combined in their four district games.  The lone score was on a special teams play by Stone Memorial.

Though the Tornadoes can claim the No. 1 ranking, they cannot claim the title of defending state champion. That honor belongs to Christian Academy, an honor Alcoa had held since 2005 and relinquished when they fell to the Warriors by a point in overtime during a state quarterfinal bout last season.

Senior Ezekiel Koko missed this game a year ago due to injury.

The Warriors’ high-powered offense got the best of the Tornadoes twice last year, the first ending a 63-game winning streak against district opponents for Alcoa that stretched back to Aug. 2003.

“It was hard to be part of the team that broke the state championship streak but it was good for us in a way,” Loy Said. “It showed us we can be beat and let us know we can’t just show up and win.  It’s something that definitely made us work harder over the summer and become a better team.”

The loss was an eye opening experience for the Tornadoes. They had not been put out of the playoffs prior to the semifinals since this year’s seniors were in second grade and were coming off seven straight state championships at the time.

“We have signs hanging up in the locker room and we have our second place in the district plaque hanging up,” safety Landon Turbyfill said. “We want it to remind everybody that they took something from us and we want to get it back.”

Thomas Loy, Dalton Ownby and Jarod Crenshaw await the walk out for the coin toss.

On Thursday Alcoa will be motivated to avenge the losses from last season but will have to stop the big arm of reigning Mr. Football Charlie High and his dynamic duo out wide of Josh Smith and Davis Howell to do so. Smith is a University of Tennessee commitment, Howell 23 receptions away from breaking the national prep record career catches.

“This is going to be the biggest test we’ve had so far in the secondary,” Turbyfill said. “They’re very good. They’re well coached and they’re very precise. Charlie High is one of the best players I’ve ever seen, and they execute. We just have to execute better.”

The Tornado front four will be integral in aiding Turbyfill and the secondary in slowing the explosive pass attack.

Braylon Young returns a fumble for a touchdown in a jamboree quarter with William Blount.

Tackle Braylon Young is coming off a two-sack performance against Fulton and has proven to be one of the most dominant defensive linemen around. James Hawkins and Michael Flack provide a lot of speed on the edge that Christian Academy tackle and Tennessee commitment Brett Kendrick will have to concentrate on all night.

While the Warrior offense has shown it can put up points with anybody, they have also given up 31 points per game this season. Against district opponents the Warriors have allowed 17 times the amount of points the Tornadoes have.

Alcoa quarterback Peyton Wall will have his chances against Christian Academy, and he and the offense will have to make the most of them to regain the Tornadoes’ spot atop the district.

“We want to score on every series because we know they have a good offense that can put up points fast,” Loy said. “So we have to go out there on offense and score as many times as we can.”

 

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