ROGERSVILLE — The David Crockett Pioneers lived up to their undefeated record and ranking Friday night, traveling to Big Red Valley and handing the Chiefs a 56-20 loss.
Playing without quarterback Collin Trent, the Chiefs struggled to move the ball. The defense couldn’t stop the Pioneers as they piled up a 28-0 second-quarter lead, including three touchdown passes by standout senior quarterback Cade Larkins, two to equally-skilled senior receiver Donte Hackler.
Cherokee finally scored as time ran out on the first half, an eight-yard pass from freshman quarterback Will Price to Brayden Collins.
“I could start a big list of guys who played their hearts out tonight,” said Cherokee coach Cody Baugh. “You hate to see the look on their face.
“They probably felt a little bit handcuffed or handicapped going into tonight. But we still fought hard and we competed. That’s what you’ve got to be proud of,” Baugh said.
The Pioneers built their lead to 42-7 in the third quarter as Larkins threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game, a 29-yarder to Hackler, their third TD pass play of the game.
Price, filling in for Trent, threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Micah Jones at the beginning of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 42-13.
Crockett outgained Cherokee on the ground, 200 to 59, and through the air, 287 to 200. The Pioneers had 21 first downs to the Chiefs’ nine.
With 8:35 left in the contest, Larkins connected with Mason Britton on a seven-yard touchdown pass that put Crockett up, 49-13.
Baugh took umbrage with second-year David Crockett head coach Hayden Chandley keeping his starters in to run up the score.
“You’re just trying to finish out a game and trying to get guys to play hard and finish strong,” Baugh told WRGS after the game. “That score is very misleading.
“You got a coach that all he’s worried about is a record, he’s not worried about guys getting hurt. It better be wishful thinking there that somebody doesn’t get to the quarterback and hurt that kid,” Baugh said.
“Late in the game, if you’re up by 30 or whatever it was and you’re trying to throw touchdown passes, that’s pretty classless, you know, pretty much crap. And then shaking hands like the way he did,” Baugh said.
“It’s funny, a program that has never been very good until the last couple of years. Jeremy Bosken got them on the map and got them playing well. Even (Gerald) Sensabaugh had them doing pretty well. A guy inherits a team with unbelievable talent and acts that way. That’s unbelievable. There’s karma in the world, and it’ll come back around,” Baugh said.
Cherokee was penalized nine times for 64 yards. Crockett was whistled for 10 penalties for 102 yards. Some Cherokee faithful were not thrilled with what they thought was excessive celebrating by the Pioneers.
“I’m not going to talk about kids because kids are just playing,” Baugh said. “They’re competing. They’re kids. They’re teenagers. They’re going to play and their emotions are going to run high. It’s just part of it.
“But for the adults to act the way they do, that’s something else. It’s almost shocking. It really is,” he said.
With a running clock due to the mercy rule going into effect, Crockett scored one more touchdown with 1:20 to go, a four-yard run by back-up quarterback Hayden Wesley.
The final score of the game came in the final 30 seconds on a 67-yard run by Cherokee’s Trent Price.
David Crockett (6-0, 3-0) hosts Tennessee High (6-1, 4-0) this Friday in a Region 1-5A first-place showdown.
The Chiefs, who clinched a playoff berth last week in their 33-26 win at Cocke County, are now 6-2 on the year, 3-1 in Region 1-5A.
Cherokee will have a bye this week, then return to play at Tennessee High on Oct. 25 before closing the regular season at home Nov. 1 against Daniel Boone.
“We’ve got a bye week and we’ve got to get some guys healthy and move on to Tennessee High,” Baugh said. “There’s still a whole lot to play for. We’ve got to get our guys healthy. We’ve got two big weeks left and we’ve got to finish strong.”