Blount Press Row

‘Sir! I have a plan!’

Hodge, Rebels roll in Oak Ridge scrimmage

Maryville junior Tee Hodge gets loose before the scrimmage with Oak Ridge on Friday at Shields Stadium.

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

They stopped putting points on the board after Maryville got to 24.

Entering a season where several pieces from last season’s Class 6A champions have to be replaced, the Rebel coaching staff had a lot to be pleased about following a scrimmage with Oak Ridge on Friday at Shields Stadium.

Running back Tee Hodge, returning from a summer that included an offer from Tennessee, provides a significant cornerstone to the rebuilding. At the 24 second mark of the accompanying video, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior rifled a Wildcat defensive back so severely it bent time.

Receivers A.J. Davis and DaVon Kimble constitute a pair of major weapons on the outside. Junior Brody Sloan, a converted quarterback, made a nifty, leaping catch for one of several Maryville scores.

Junior Ashton Maples, 6-4, is our sleeper pick on the outside.

At quarterback, the Rebels have a big task at hand in replacing Barley’s/Blount Press Row Player of the Year and Alabama-Birmingham signee Dylan Hopkins. The BlueCross Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player not only directed the Maryville passing game last season, he finished the team’s second-leading rusher behind Chattanooga signee and Blount County rushing champion Isaiah Cobb.

That said, junior Braden Carnes, the leader to replace Hopkins, was never touched behind a retooled and impressive offensive line. The deep ball looked a concern Friday, but, with the way Kimble and Davis can run and make moves after the catch, that may not matter.

Defensively, Maryville returns last season’s top tackler in middle linebacker Seth Orren. The 6-foot, 215-pound junior was the hub on a defense that turned Oak Ridge away without a single point on Friday.

There’s a lot of work to be done before the opener at Catholic in two weeks, but, after Friday, Rebel fans have good reason to be encouraged.

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