Blount Press Row

The Triple Option

Player of year Hopkins ups ante on dual-threat QB

Along with All-State and BlueCross Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player honors, Maryville senior Dylan Hopkins is the first player from the offensive side of the ball to be named Barley’s/Blount Press Row Player of the Year. Photo by Wallace Bowden

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

Stanford junior Dylan Jackson won it in each of its first two years.

Air Force Academy cadet T.D. Blackmon kept the Barley’s/Blount Press Row Player of the Year award on the defensive side in its third year

In Year 4 a season ago, Tennessee Tech signee Jack Warwick recorded a super human 175 tackles to ensure the most prestigious honor in all of high school football remained defense-only.

It took Dylan Hopkins averaging 36 yards per catch his senior season at Maryville in 2017 for an offensive player to finally break through. Sure, the 2017 Barley’s/Blount Press Row Player of the Year caught only two passes all season, but that second one no one’s ever going to forget.

Then there’s the other stuff.

A University of Alabama at Birmingham signee, Hopkins bombed opposing defenses for 2,462 yards and 19 touchdowns in leading the Rebels to the Class 6A state championship last December. The Mr. Football finalist and BlueCross Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player completed 158 of his 219 passes — 72 percent — to put up those numbers.

He had four picks.

That was enough to make the future Blazer an obvious frontrunner for this year’s award. Throw in his rushing totals, and it’s a take-off-from-the-foul-line, 360 dunk.

Hopkins carried 118 times for 739 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per carry, in finishing the county’s second-best ball carrier last season. Only teammate and county rushing champion Isaiah Cobb — 148, 1,100, 19 — was better.

Consider sophomore Tee Hodge stuffed another 723 yards and 12 touchdowns into Maryville’s rushing totals in 2017, and just how rare Hopkins proved comes better into focus. Here’s the magnifying glass.

The Rebels were unbeaten with Hopkins under center in 2017, Maryville’s only loss coming in a Week 2, 17-14 defeat at Oakland. Hopkins was held out as a precaution with a shoulder injury.

In Isaiah Cobb (2), Hopkins and Tee Hodge (44), the Rebels produced the county’s top three rushers last season. Photo by Wallace Bowden

In the playoff semifinal rematch at Shields Stadium, the Rebels trailed 28-21 with eight minutes remaining when Hopkins made the handoff to receiver Christian Markham on the sweep, Hopkins slipping unnoticed out of the backfield and up the right sideline. Receiver A.J. Davis took the pitch from Markham on the reverse and lofted a soft toss to a wide-open Hopkins, who scampered 48 yards to the end zone to tie things at 28-all.

Jack Cone’s 39-yard field with 26 seconds left put Maryville over the top, 31-28, the Rebels shredding Cane Ridge, 42-7, a week later in the Class 6A BlueCross Bowl.

Hopkins finished 11-of-18 passing for 121 yards and an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Blake Watson in his final game as a Rebel. Maryville’s top ball carrier with eight carries for an even 90 yards, it was cake naming him the game’s offensive most valuable player.

Reverting to the more traditional dual-threat role, he was not targeted as a receiving option.

Barley’s/Blount Press Row
All-Blount County Football Team

(For offensive lineman highlights, click their Hudl icon.)

Offense


Dylan Hopkins

Barley's/BPR Player of the Year
Maryville
Senior
Position: QB
Scouting Report:
The Alabama-Birmingham signee delivered one of the best seasons ever for a Blount County high school quarterback. Finished 158-of-219 passing (72 percent) for 2,462 yards and 19 TDs, with four picks. County's second-best ball carrier with 118 rushes for 739 yards and 12 TDs. The All-State selection, Mr. Football finalist and BlueCross Bowl offensive MVP had biggest TD catch of the year in a semifinal win over Oakland.

Isaiah Cobb

Maryville
Senior
Position: RB
Scouting Report:
Power, speed and vision, all in the same package, Cobb was the only ball carrier countywide to reach 1,000 yards in 2017, finishing with an even 1,100 on 148 rushes, 7.4 yards per carry. Tacked on another 137 yards as a receiving option. The Fulton game was just awesome: 16 carries, 186 yards, 3 TDs; 2 catches, 34 yards.

Tee Hodge

Maryville
Sophomore
Position: RB
Scouting Report:
Hodge shared the backfield with his older brother and, along with Hopkins, helped the Rebels go 1-2-3 in a sweep of the county's top three rushers. A scary mix of power, agility and sprint, Hodge totaled 723 yards on 118 carries. Found end zone for 12 touchdowns. His receiving numbers: 4 catches, 103 yards (25.8 per reception).

Lucas McKeehan

Alcoa
Senior
Position: OL
Height:
6-foot-1
Weight: 250 pounds

Mason Gann

Maryville
Senior
Position: OL
Height:
6-foot-2
Weight: 275 pounds

Tank Sloan

Maryville
Senior
Position: OL
Height:
6-foot-1
Weight: 295 pounds

Bryson Perkins

Alcoa
Senior
Position: OL
Height:
6-foot-3
Weight: 275 pounds

Jack Williams

Maryville
Senior
Position: OL
Height:
6-foot-2
Weight: 230 pounds

Blake Watson

Maryville
Senior
Position: TE
Scouting Report:
You have to really be something as a tight end to get throws with the receiving corps the Rebels had in 2017. Watson snared 28 passes for 375 yards and five TDs in helping Maryville reclaim the Class 6A throne. It's blocking for the Rebels' backs and receivers where he excelled. And Watson could get there fast.

Kameron Johnson

Heritage
Sophomore
Position: WR
Scouting Report:
Johnson came on about midseason and made himself a player to watch the next two seasons. The Mountaineers' ace caught 27 passes for 496 yards and six touchdowns. At 18.4 yards per catch, Johnson is likely to get a lot more looks in 2018.

Christian Markham

Maryville
Senior
Position: WR
Scouting Report:
He's just so good, so dependable. Markham finished with 34 catches for 610 yards and six TDs. His willingness to go get it in traffic set him apart, that and the 17.9 yards per reception average. Rushed five times for 47 yards on the jet sweep.

A.J. Davis

Maryville
Sophomore
Position: ATH
Scouting Report:
Davis makes this year's All-Blount County list in more ways than one, his county-best 53 catches for 824 yards and four TDs not the least among them. You can win when the top receiver averages 15.5 per catch. You're also going to do pretty good when your kickoff return guy brings back 12 kicks for 312 yards, 26.0 per return. Or how about six punt returns for 115 yards?

Zeke Rankin

Alcoa
Sophomore
Position: K
Scouting Report:
Rankin takes his work seriously, the All-State selection finishing a perfect 74-of-74 on point-after-touchdowns this past season. He was pretty much money when it came the 3-pointer as well, knocking through 10 of his 12 field goal attempts, long of 35 yards.

Defense


Tristan Woody

Alcoa
Senior
Position: DL
Scouting Report:
It's genuinely amazing what Woody was able to accomplish as a nose guard in a linebacker's body. The no-quit Alcoa strongman recorded 96 tackles in 2017, third-best among Tornadoes. Tacked on 11 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. From a nose guard.

Landon Ray

Alcoa
Junior
Position: DL
Scouting Report:
Ray's speed on the corner was difficult thing for opponents to compensate for, the Tornado junior registering 70 stops, fourth-best for 3A champion Alcoa. He pinned 11.5 ball carriers for a loss, adding 2.5 sacks.

Elijah Phillips

Heritage
Senior
Position: DL
Scouting Report:
Play the line on a defense that runs a three-man front, you have to be really good to get noticed. We noticed Phillips, whose terrific quickness led to 51 stops and a Blount County-best 13 tackles for loss. Threw in four sacks for good measure.

Spencer Shore

Maryville
Junior
Position: DL
Scouting Report:
The Rebels' top six tacklers were linebackers or DBs. Checking in at No. 7 was Shore, who racked up 54 tackles, which included tying for the team lead in tackles for loss at eight. Tacked on three sacks. Doubled at tight end on offense largely on double-tight end run sets. His one catch all season went for a TD.

Tommy Smith

Maryville
Senior
Position: LB
Scouting Report:
Smith not only held down the second spot in tackles for the Rebels -- 114 stops -- the guy was flat out crafty. Had strip with Alcoa driving to turn the game against the Tornadoes. Did the same thing to Fulton to kill a promising Falcon march. Mr. Takeaway also had four tackles for loss.

Jack Warwick

Alcoa
Senior
Position: LB
Scouting Report:
No question Warwick was was the soul of last season's Tornadoes, blasting away from the rest on the tackle chart to finish at the top with 148 stops. That's a lot of work, even for a middle linebacker. His 12 tackles for loss were also a team best, to go with three sacks. Had team-best 11 stops and 14-yard INT in state championship game.

Seth Orren

Maryville
Sophomore
Position: LB
Scouting Report:
Pressed into service as a freshman a year ago, Orren was fully ready for the task at hand in 2017. The Rebel ball hawk set the tempo with a team-best 136 stops. That's really getting around when you consider the rising defensive star also had five tackles for loss and two sacks.

Landon Harrell

Heritage
Senior
Position: LB
Scouting Report:
Harrell closed the regular season the Blount County leader in tackles, others coming by for the lead during postseason play. Consider: In 10 games, the Heritage run stopper put 133 ball carrier on the turf. That's with the leaders, postseason included. Had nine tackles for loss and a sack.

Will Orren

Maryville
Senior
Position: DB
Scouting Report:
A pitcher, Orren is committed to baseball for Centre College next season. It's football's loss. Maryville's do-it-all dynamo finished sixth in tackles at 57 from his strong safety spot. The All-State DB led the county with six interceptions, two of them coming in the final eight minutes of a semifinal win over Oakland. The first one set up the game-tying touchdown in a 31-28 Rebel win. The second (above), on a Patriot Hail Mary, sealed it.

Byron Brown

Maryville
Senior
Position: DB
Scouting Report:
Brown got our attention when he blasted his way to the win in the 40-yard dash for backs and receivers at the jamboree. A big hitter at the corner spot, he had 29 stops and a tackle for loss. His pick numbers were something else: two interceptions, 100 yards, two touchdowns. The second pick 6 came in the state championship game, where Brown was named the BlueCross Bowl defensive MVP.

Jackson Jett

Heritage
Sophomore
Position: DB
Scouting Report:
The all-region selection made 34 stops from his defensive back position. It's the speed he brought to the table as a pass defender where Jett, aptly named, distinguished himself, pacing the Mountaineers on the year with three interceptions.

Davis Maples

Alcoa
Senior
Position: ATH
Scouting Report:
Davis makes our list because of his dual role as both a run stopper and a linebacker that can cover. Then there's the way he got after ball. His 110 tackles trailed only Warwick for the team lead. Putting up double-8s -- eight tackles for loss, eight sacks -- made him a mobile and most useful weapon.

Trace Parris

Maryville
Junior
Position: P
Scouting Report:
Parris put up solid numbers with 19 punts for 569 yards, a 30.0 yards per kick average, with a long of 47 yards. A lot of the average was due to the Rebels seldom punting from deep in their own territory. They did once, though. Late in the opening half of an epic semifinal with Oakland, Parris set up with his heels at the back of the end zone. Oakland sent the house. That long kick of 47 yards was the outcome.

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