Blount Press Row
Don't Miss

Three Guys Moving

With Jackson “the Truck,” Rebels may have memorable front four

IMG_6184Maryville running back Jaylen Burgess charges into the Alcoa end zone Friday night at Shields Stadium. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Pittsburgh had the “Steel Curtain,” Minnesota the “Purple People Eaters.”

Rebel quarterback Tyler Vaught escapes upfield on the offensive play of the game early in the opening half.

Rebel quarterback Tyler Vaught escapes upfield on the offensive play of the game early in the opening half.

How ’bout, “Three Guys and a Truck?”

Right end Dylan Jackson, “the Truck,” is just about the biggest thing we’ve seen on a high school football field since former Pearl-Cohn goliath John Henderson.

That guy was straight out of the Bible.

We still call him “Mr. Henderson” to his face.

Jackson, we think, is faster.

Thing is “the Three Guys” – right tackle Kyle Withrow, left tackle Ritchie Koons and left end Matt Young – aren’t exactly small.

Koons and Withrow, the two strong men, look as if they could lift one end of the stadium. Young, a sophomore, looks like he’s going to be Jackson in a couple years.

Koons and Jackson, a Tennessee commitment, are seniors, Withrow a junior.

Put all that together on one defensive line, and it’s no problem at all, none whatsoever, understanding how Maryville could dominate Alcoa, 41-14, in the latest “Battle of Pistol Creek” Friday night at Shields Stadium.

You knew something bad was about to happen to Alcoa’s offense before they even played a down:

Maryville won the coin toss – and deferred.

Maryville never defers.

Maryville linebacker T.D. Blackmon (27) knifes through to drop Alcoa's Dustin Clabough.

Maryville linebacker T.D. Blackmon (27) knifes through to drop Alcoa’s Dustin Clabough.

“We decided tonight to get the defense on the field first,” Maryville coach George Quarles said. “That’s our strength, and we thought we should play to it.”

The guys with the truck were more than ready.

“I think he wanted us to go out there and be physical,” Jackson said.

The Rebels, with game most valuable player Jaylen Burgess rushing for 122 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, had more than enough offense early.

Receiver Kelby Brock collected a 10-yard strike from quarterback Tyler Vaught to begin a blitz where the Rebels tallied on each of their first three possessions.

Vaught added a second score on a 1-yard run, Burgess matching the distance for a 20-0 Maryville lead with eight minutes to play in the half.

The Tornadoes weren’t exactly hemorrhaging yardage to the Rebel offense, far from it. Vaught was 4-of-10 for 119 yards and the touchdown to Brock at the half. Burgess worked hard to collect 56 yards in 11 carries.

The starters for both teams yielded the field with better than nine minutes to play in the fourth, at which point Maryville led, 41-14, on a Joel Hopkins 60-yard sprint.

In looking for an unsung hero for the Rebels, Hopkins is your guy.

Dylan Shinsky collides with Alcoa's

Dylan Shinsky collides with an Alcoa defender.

Maryville lost Burgess’ backfield mate, fellow senior Dylan Shinsky, to a shoulder injury early in the opening half. The injury isn’t thought serious and Shinsky is expected back.

Hopkins more than made up for the loss, carrying 11 times for 102 yards the second half score.

Getting 9.3 yards per carry from your backup can be really helpful.

“They looked polished on offense,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said. “We looked sluggish on offense.”

The Rebels got an 18-yard scoring run from Burgess and a dizzying, 19-yard keeper from Vaught in the second half for insurance, the Tornadoes answering with a 3-yard run from Jaquez Tyson and a 3-yard score from Karim Shereef.

Honestly, though, you saw all you needed to see the first three times Alcoa had the ball.

A second procedure penalty on the game’s first drive put the Tornadoes in second-and-15. The next two plays?

A Jackson knock down of a Mitchell McClurg pass, followed on third down with Rebel linebacker T.D. Blackmon stripping Tyson of the ball in the Alcoa backfield.

The Tornadoes recovered and punted on fourth-and-21.

It only got worse.

Kelby Brock looks pleased with his second touchdown catch of the season.

Kelby Brock looks pleased with his second touchdown catch of the season.

It was instantly obvious Alcoa was in for a long night trying to block Young, Koons, Withrow and Jackson. On third-and-3 on the Tornadoes’ second possession, Rebel defensive back Josh Yoakum picked off a deep pass from Alcoa backup Jaylen Myers at the Maryville 30-yard line.

Yoakum finished with a huge night of seven tackles, later adding  second interception.

When Vaught pushed the pile into the end zone from the 1 nine plays later, it was 14-0 Maryville.

Vaught delivered the offensive play of the game on the march when, after retrieving a high shotgun snap, he dodged a heavy rush and ran 19 yards for a first down.

“I’m telling him to fall on it so we can punt,” Quarles said. “I look up, and he’s sprinting down the sideline. I thought that was the biggest play of the night.”

“My legs were so sore after that,” Vaught said. “I figured it was too far back to throw. I thought, ‘I might as well try and make a play.’”

Alcoa’s third possession was perhaps most telling of all.

Facing second-and-4, the Tornadoes went with Tyson on the toss sweep.

Koons powered through to throw Tyson for a 1-yard loss.

When a defensive tackle throws your All-State back for a 1-yard loss on a toss sweep, you’re in big trouble.

Three possessions, 11 plays, minus 7 yards.

Withrow paced the guys up front with seven tackles. The rest of the Maryville defense swarmed from there, with defensive back Cameron Russell leading the way with a team-best 10 stops. Five others — Blackmon, Young, linebacker Ethan Dudley and defensive backs Paul Bristol and Blake Henderson — had at least six.

Maryville defensive coordinator Jim Gaylor was asked by more than one media outlet afterward just how good this year’s front four could be?

“I would rather them wait a couple weeks before they ask me any questions,” he said, “but they’re playing really well.”


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply