Blount Press Row

You Make The Call

Maryville’s Hunt, Hopkins weigh in on offense vs. defense

Maryville senior Dylan Hopkins, Blount County’s lone Mr. Football finalist this season, faces a stern test with a visit from Farragut’s Admirals in tonight Class 6A second round game at Shields Stadium. Photos by Wallace Bowden

By Conner McCarty
Blount Press Row

Offense or defense?

Which is more important?

Certainly, a question that has been debated among football fans for decades.

Maryville (10-1) is elite on both sides of the football. Offensively, the Rebels average 40.8 points per game and have scored a total of 446 points this season. Defensively, the Rebels average only 16.5 points against per game.

The Maryville defense has allowed only 184 points this season, earning shutouts against McMinn County, Heritage and Bearden.

Tight end Blake Watson is part of terribly deep Rebel receiving corps.

The Rebels host the 2016 Class 5A state champion Farragut in a second round 6A contest tonight at Shields Stadium.

Kickoff is 7 p.m.

In looking at the win-and-advance, lose-and-go-home matchup, which side of the football is more important for Maryville? To help you make the call, here is an offensive and defensive breakdown of the Rebels to date.

Offense
The Rebel offense is led by senior quarterback and Mr. Football finalist Dylan Hopkins. The UAB commit is 105-145 through the air this year, with 14 touchdowns and only three picks. Hopkins will enters tonight with a 72.4 percent completion percentage.

The guy can do it with his legs, too. Hopkins has 75 carries for 510 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Lining up behind Hopkins is the dual-threat rushing attack of Isaiah Cobb and Tee Hodge. Together, they have scored a combined 148 points for the Rebels. Cobb, a senior, has 101 carries for 841 yards and 15 touchdowns. Hodge, a sophomore, has 88 carries for 605 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Both can run between the tackles or get to the edge and get up field quickly.

On the outside, Hopkins has multiple receiving targets. Sophomore A.J. Davis leads the Rebels in receiving yards with 645 on 37 receptions and three touchdowns. Accompanying Davis are seniors Christian Markham and Byron Brown. Both lead the Rebels with five receiving touchdowns.

Linebacker Tommy Smith has emerged this season as one of the county’s top defenders.

Markham has 24 receptions for 477 yards. Brown has 17 for 469 yards. All three wide outs are more than capable of the big-play long bomb, yet reliable 20 yards or closer to the line of scrimmage. A forth threat in the passing game — big senior tight end Blake Watson.

Watson has 18 catches for 237 yards and three scores. Do not overlook him.

Maryville’s offensive line has bullied opposing defenses all season. The big men up front have given Hopkins time in the pocket and created holes for a running game that totals 2630 yards in 2017.

Defense
The Rebel defense is led by linebacker Seth Orren. The Sophomore leads Maryville 112 tackles, including four tackles for loss, a sack and a caused fumble. Lining up beside Orren are seniors Tommy Smith and Riley Gennoe.

Smith has collected ? tackles, three for lost yardage, adding an interception and two caused fumbles. A late second half strip at Alcoa all but decided the game. Gennoe has totaled ? stops and a caused fumble.

All three Rebel linebackers are great sideline to sideline and coming up to stop the run.

Sophomore running back Tee Hodge has teamed with older brother Isaiah Cobb this season to give Maryville a lethal rushing attack.

“The Michaels” are shutdown corners on the outside for the Maryville defense. Michael Buchanan has 19 solo tackles and 42 assisted. The junior also has two tackles for loss. On the other side is Michael Jones, who has 21 solo tackles and 26 assisted. Both corners will have key matchups against a pass-heavy Farragut offense.

The Rebel defense is plus nine in the turnover margin this season.

Both sides of the ball are important. However, Maryville coach Derek Hunt and Hopkins both agree defense has been the bigger plus this year.

“We need to be really good on defense,” Hunt said. “If they can’t score, they can’t win. We just need to get stops and get points.”

Hunt isn’t wrong, but holding Farragut scoreless will be a big challenge. That said, Hopkins likes Maryville’s chances.

“Without a strong defense, you’re nothing,” he said.

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