Blount Press Row

Another Shootout?

Quarles: Blackman speedster Jennings not to be underestimated as passer

DSC_0050Rebel senior and Mr. Football finalist Shawn Prevo cuts behind a Matthew Howard block in the season opener against Webb. Photo by Brandon Shinn

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

He’s got terrific speed.

That much jumps right off the video.

Take another look at how fast Blackman junior Jauan Jennings gets the ball out of his hands when he throws. That’s the part not to overlook, Maryville coach George Quarles said.

“If you think he’s just going to run, he’ll pick you apart,” the Rebel coach said.

Top-ranked Maryville (13-0) hosts fifth-ranked Blackman (13-0) in a Class 6A semifinal on Friday at Shields Stadium.

Kickoff is 7 p.m.

The Blaze are making their first final four appearance in school history. Hendersonville (10-3) hosts White Station (9-4) in the other semifinal.

The 2013 BlueCross Bowl is scheduled for Dec. 5-7 at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Jennings, a Rivals four-star prospect with offers from several major colleges, is a lot for Maryville to prepare for on both sides of the ball. He plays safety on defense.

“He roams around and patrols back there very well,” Quarles said, “and he’ll come up and tackle. He’ll strike you.”

Junior defensive Dylan Jackson is a finalist for AAA Mr. Football Lineman of the Year.

Rebel junior Dylan Jackson is a finalist for AAA Mr. Football Lineman of the Year.

In terms of accuracy and zip, Jennings is a lot like the Murfreesboro quarterback the Rebels faced in last season’s semifinal. Siegel’s Brent Stockstill taxed the Maryville secondary for 372 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in a 47-43 Rebel shootout win – all while the Mr. Football finalist Stockstill was playing on a torn ACL.

Jennings doesn’t enter with an injured knee, and he’s part of a potent Blackman running game.

Senior Cole Notgrass, 1,110 yards, 131 carries, sets the pace for a Blaze ground attack that’s racked 3,360 yards rushing. Junior Charlie Davidson has contributed 869 yards on 107 carries, with the dual-threat Jennings adding 719 yards on 121 rushes.

In a notable display, Blackman blazed Murfreesboro rival and No. 2-ranked Oakland for 377 yards on the ground in a 17-3 win in last week’s quarterfinals. Oakland entered the game limiting opponents 65.3 yards per contest.

“They’re legit,” Quarles said, “no question. I think they play well together, and coach (Philip) Shadowens has them grooved and motivated. There’s a reason they’ve been this successful. Defensively, they don’t give up much.”

Rebel quarterback John Garrett makes the give to Jaylen Burges. Photo by Brandon Shinn

Quarterback John Garrett makes the give to Jaylen Burgess.

It’s easy for opponents to bypass how well Jennings throws because of Blackman’s running game, Quarles said. Blaze juniors Quentin Hardy and Ronnie Killings are both tall, fast targets.

Maryville enters with the state’s third-ranked defense this season, yielding 8.4 points per game. Only Memphis Trezevant, 5.4, and Fulton, 7.4 have been stingier, but this wouldn’t be a bad week for the Rebel offense to reassert why this is a uniquely balanced Maryville team.

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Cody Carroll is off to the races against Hardin Valley.

“I think time of possession will be a big stat in the game,” Quarles said. “And not just time of possession; you need to score points.”

School-record holder and Mr. Football finalist running back Shawn Prevo has looked nothing short of super this postseason. Senior John Garrett, no slouch as a dual-threat quarterback himself, has played lights out for the Rebels all season. Fellow senior Cody Carroll is as big-game a receiver as Maryville has ever dressed.

As a group, the Rebels are cranking out 45.7 points per game on offense.

 

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