Blount Press Row

Tornadoes 2 Hyped

Tyson upholds family tradition as Tornadoes reclaim state crown

_HOB2918-EditAlcoa junior Jaquez Tyson hurdles a teammate during Friday’s Class 3A BlueCross Bowl at Tennessee Tech. Photos by Hobe Brunson

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

Cookeville – Jaquez Tyson delivered a Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers special Friday night.

Tornado quarterback Peyton Wall looks for running room in the rain.

Tornado quarterback Peyton Wall looks for running room in the rain.

In bitterly cold and drenching conditions at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium, the Alcoa High School junior was “Bustin’ Loose” like no one has ever done before, carrying the ball a championship game record 49 times for 278 yards.

It’s kind of a family thing.

No. 1-ranked Christ Presbyterian Academy was overwhelmed by the pounding, the second-ranked Tornadoes taking control of the Class 3A BlueCross Bowl in the second quarter and never looking back in a 25-7 Alcoa triumph.

The win pulled the Tornadoes (14-1) into a tie with Blount County neighbor Maryville for the most state titles in the playoff era with 13 each.

The Rebels meet Hendersonville in the 6A championship game tonight at 7 CST.

Alcoa’s eighth title in 10 years draws Tornado coach Gary Rankin ever closer to the top of the state’s all-time wins list with his 356th victory. Only Lausanne’s Ken Netherland (368) has more.

“I didn’t realize it,” Rankin said. “I’m just happy for our children, our school and the Alcoa community.”

In keeping with the record-setting night, Tyson was named the BlueCross Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player, with Tornado teammate Braylon Young named the game’s defensive most valuable player. For Tyson, the big night was a matter of holding up a longstanding family tradition.

Tornado coach Gary Rankin, at left, receives a commemorative game ball from Alcoa athletics director Josh Stephens before the regular season finale against Christian Academy of Knoxville. Rankin is now the state's second all-time winningest coach.

Tornado coach Gary Rankin, at left, receives a commemorative game ball from Alcoa athletics director Josh Stephens before the regular season finale against Christian Academy of Knoxville. Rankin is now the state’s second all-time winningest coach. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

From former San Diego Charger Shannon Mitchell, the only Blount Countian to play in an NFL Super Bowl, to linebacker Mike Tyson, to standout tailback Dustin Lindsey, to current UT-Chattanooga Moc Taharin Tyson – all cousins – Jaquez Tyson has had a family member in a No. 2 Alcoa jersey for the last 25 years.

Taharin Tyson helped launch the “Too hyped!” battle cry the Tornadoes chant during warm ups.

A preseason All-State selection, Jaquez Tyson was injured early in the Maryville game in Week 1 and struggled to find his form until later in the season.

“I felt like people started doubting me at the beginning of the year,” he said.

Forty-nine carries is a lot of work.

“It definitely started wearing on me,” Tyson said.

The same could be said for the Alcoa offensive line on the Christ Presbyterian defense right from the start.

Alcoa’s first scoring drive Friday, as would two others, had Tyson written all over it, the Tornadoes marching 94 yards in 12 plays for a 7-0 lead with three minutes to play in the opening quarter.

Alcoa quarterback Peyton Wall – 11 carries, 93 yards – zipped 28 yards to the end zone on a cutback run for the touchdown, but Tyson uncorked a harbinger of things to come with eight carries on the drive.

Malik Love gets to the corner against the Lions.

Malik Love gets to the corner against the Lions.

“I trust my line,” Wall said. “When it’s that open, it’s my turn. We knew what we had to do coming in.”

The Lions (14-1) answered with a Chance Meier 36-yard score to even things at 7-all with just over a minute to play in the opening quarter. In the second quarter, Alcoa’s beefy offensive line of Blake Holder, Inrique Harvey, Andrew Pierce, Miles Homes, Kyle Mitchell and tight end Matthew McClurg just took the game over.

“That was a big part of it,” Holmes said. “We noticed a lot of their defensive linemen also started on offense.”

“After that 97-yard drive, you could see it,” Harvey said.

Once Tyson and the offensive line assumed control, Rankin tasked the Lions with stopping the exact same play, over and over again.

Flanker Malik Love worked the reverse on a punt return with sophomore Caleb Woody with eight minutes to play in the half, Love returning the pigskin 30 yards to the Lion 16-yard line. Tyson bulled in from a yard away four plays later for a 13-7 Alcoa lead.

The Tornadoes, finishing with 382 yards rushing on 69 carries, attempted and completed only one pass in the game, but it was a big one.

Alcoa center Andrew Pierce and the Tornado line helped Tyson set a championship game record.

Alcoa center Andrew Pierce and the Tornado line helped Tyson set a championship game record.

Facing fourth-and-5 at Christ Presbyterian 30 with the half waning, Wall flipped a short toss to Tyson in the right flat, Tyson running for the first down to keep the drive alive. The possession had begun at the Tornado 3. Three plays later, Tyson again found the end zone from a yard out, again running behind Harvey at right guard, for a 19-7 Alcoa lead at the half.

“The drive right before the half was big,” Rankin said. “On the fourth-down call, Peyton did a great job of executing. I thought that drive was the turning point of the game.”

With offense in full demolition mode, the Tornado defense bottled up the Lions.

Young, with 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack from his tackle position, and middle linebacker Jake Warwick, four stops, limited Christ Presbyterian to 99 yards rushing on 25 carries, the Meier scoring run the only blemish.

The Lions entered the game with one of the state’s top offensive weapons this season in receiver and Missouri commitment Thomas Richard. John Reily McLaughlin finished with as a big a night as any Tornado defensively, shutting down the Christ Presbyterian running game at the edge with a team-best five tackles.

John Riley McLaughlin corrals a Christ Presbyterian receiver.

John Riley McLaughlin corrals a Christ Presbyterian receiver.

The senior cornerback also had two pass breakups, including what was likely the finishing blow for the Lions, McLaughlin knocking a pass away from Richard at the Alcoa 7-yard line on fourth down with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

“Our secondary did a great job,” Alcoa defensive coordinator Brian Nix said. “It was a bang-bang play, and he (McLaughlin) defended it well. Our kids have done a great job all year.”

Richard finished with one catch in the game for 9 yards.

Brenden Teeter and Woody also had a pass breakup for the Tornadoes.

With Tyson adding his third score on another 1-yard run the series prior to the McLaughlin breakup, the Lions were all but out of options.

Warwick chased Christ Presbyterian quarterback Zack Weatherly out of bounds on fourth-and-21 on the Lions last possession with a minute left, enabling the Tornado offense to slip into victory formation for the final two snaps.

“They (the Tornadoes) have great depth and great schemes, on offense and defense,” Christ Presbyterian coach Ingle Martin said. “When you mix good players and good schemes, you win eight of the last 10.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply