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Flight Of The Falcons

McGill runs for 5 TDs as Friendsville rebounds from back-to-back Super Bowl losses

Falcon running back Parker McGill gets to the corner and turns on the speed on Saturday. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on the planet.

Heritage's Joseph Skidmore fights off a Friendsville tackler.

Adults can reach speeds approaching 300 mph on high-speed descents.

The Friendsville species of Falcon, we learned Saturday, isn’t too shabby in the speed department, either.

Friendsville running back Parker McGill ran for five eye-popping touchdowns, and the Falcons avenged back-to-back title game losses to Heritage with an American Conference Pee Wee Super Bowl championship, 37-12, at Maryville High’s Shields Stadium.

McGill, a Mary Blount fifth-grader, rushed for touchdowns of 83, 16, 76, 9 and 6 yards.

“That was his best game by far,” Friendsville coach Brandon Gaylor said. “We told him we needed a big game from him, and he responded.”

The Maryville Bears built a big lead early and never looked back in defeating Rockford, 32-7, to take the American Conference midget crown.

The National Conference title games opened with the Maryville Cubs turning back the Maryville Southerners, 12-0, for the pee wee championship, the Cubs getting scores on offense and defense in the shutout.

The Maryville Rebs helped coach Don Sentell celebrate his 50th season coaching youth football in Blount County with a 25-0 win over the Fairview Raiders in the National Conference Midget Super Bowl to conclude the afternoon.

Friendsville's Codie Drake makes the tackle.

The Falcon championship was a big one on a personal note for Gaylor. His father, Tary, coached the Falcons for 24 years before retiring and moving to Florida after last season. When he called for advice last week, Brandon said his dad kept it simple.

“I talked to him all week,” Brandon Gaylor said. “He said, ‘Put in four plays and run the hurry-up offense, and go with that.’”

Before hanging up, Tary Gaylor had one final request.

“We couldn’t go down three times in a row to them,” Brandon said. “My dad would have never let me hear the end of it.”

Recovering a game-opening onsides kick, Heritage was quickly spoiling for a three-repeat, the Indians marching to the Friendsville 17-yard line. The Falcons’ Codie Drake caused and recovered a fumble at that point in a turnover that changed everything.

“I made it and I got it,” Drake said.

McGill swept around right end and sprinted 83 yards for a 6-0 Friendsville lead on the first play of the next series.

The Indians came right back. Joseph Skidmore popped in from 2 yards to even the score at 6-all with seconds to play in the opening quarter. To open the second quarter, McGill and Falcons got full on the gas and never let up.

McGill kept on a fake double reverse with receiver Harrison Owen, the Friendsville standout powering in from 16 yards for a 12-6 Falcon advantage. Touchdown No. 3 followed soon after, McGill running 76 yards off left guard to put Friendsville up, 18-6, at the half.

Friendsville's Nathan Nolan is snared by Heritage's Zach Hollman.

With each McGill score, Falcon kicker Ethan Russell made it doubly difficult for Heritage to answer, pinning the Indians deep with every kickoff. On the opening possession of the second half, Friendsville’s Scott Sudman recovered a Heritage fumble deep in Indian territory. McGill went in from 9 yards to open the lead to 24-6.

Tyler Napier pumped some life into the two-time defending champs with a 7-yard touchdown jaunt at the four-minute mark of the third. Christian Jones ran tough for Heritage throughout, his second-half bursts helping to keep Friendsville within reach.

To close the third, the Falcons hit the afterburners.

McGill and Owen worked the double reverse again, this time from 25 yards, to extend the Friendsville lead to 31-12. Linkoln Wilson passed to Isaiah Norman for the conversion. Wilson, the Falcon quarterback, put it out of reach with 6:30 to play in the fourth, keeping around right end to blast 59 yards for what proved the final margin.

American Conference Midget Super Bowl

Maryville Bears 32, Rockford Tigers 7 –– The Bears went to work right away.

The Cubs' Ashton Maples looks for room as Rockford's Titan Ellis and Jacob Bruce converge.

DaVon Kimble sliced off left tackle for a 7-0 lead with the game less than two minutes old. Maryville quarterback Brody Sloan passed to Ashton Maples for the conversion, a harbinger of things to come. By the half, the Bears had built a decisive, 26-0 lead.

Kimble added back-to-rack rushing scores to boost the Maryville lead to 20-0 with three minutes to play until halftime. With only seconds to the horn, Sloan and Maples made the hook up on a touchdown pass to make it 26-0 Bears. At the 10-minute mark of the third, Maples ran 2 yards to close the scoring for Maryville at 32-0.

Chase Williams, Gage LaForty and Adam Matthews stood in and continued to battle for Tigers defensively, and, with time waning, the offense rewarded their efforts with a score.

Matthews connected on a deep pass to Douglas Ver Valen to move Rockford into scoring position. For the points, Noah Perkins followed his blockers into the end zone, with Titan Ellis running for the conversion.

National Conference Pee Wee Super Bowl

Maryville Cubs 12, Maryville Southerners 0 – The Cubs made their franchise to the only one to come away with a sweep on Saturday, following on the Bear triumph in the American midget title game.

Ahmaudd Sankey slipped around the right side with five minutes to play in the opening quarter, freed himself from a pair of would-be Southerner tacklers and sprinted 24 yards to the end zone for a 6-0 lead.

Nick Dagel and the Cubs defense did the rest, Dagel picking off a Southerner pass and returning it 37 yards for a 12-0 advantage that stood the rest of the way. The Southerners made a late push to get close with nine minutes remaining. Gage Latham ended all doubt soon after with the Cubs’ second interception of the afternoon.

National Conference Midget Super Bowl
Maryville Rebs 25, Fairview Raiders 0 – Don Sentell won his 11th Super Bowl since 2000, and the winningest football coach in Blount County at any level doesn’t look at all like he’s slowing down.

Michael Buchanan picks up yardage for the Rebs.

With a pair of dazzling young backs doing a lot of the work, the Rebs were rolling early. Travonis Hodge cut through the line over the left side, cut back twice and bolted the end zone from 15 yards for a 7-0 lead with three minutes to play in the first.

Travonis Hodge cuts back on Fairview's Garrett Brackett.

The Raiders hurt their cause with a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Maryville quickly took advantage, Michael Buchanan skipping around the left side, high-stepping out of a tackle and racing to the end zone for a 13-0 lead with nine minutes to play in the half. At the five-minute mark, Buchanan took another toss to the house around the left side to make it 19-0.

A 3-yard Buchanan run concluded the scoring soon after.

The day’s final game received a bad scare on the final snap. With less than a minute to play, Fairview’s Nick Godfrey was caught beneath a pile of players on a tackle, Godfrey’s ankle suffering awkward bend.

The Raider linebacker remained down several minutes before being taken away by ambulance to hospital. Fairvew coach Rick Young informed Blount Press Row on Sunday one of the worst fears had been adverted. Godfrey, who left the field with a defiant fist thrust in the air, hadn’t suffered a break.

Further evaluation Godfrey’s injury will take place this week, Young said.

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