Adamsville can’t put up road block on Lions’ journey
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 12:02 pm
The road trip continues, and there’s only one more stop.
Dresden rolled through Adamsville on its way to Cookeville on Friday night with an impressive 35-19 win over the Cardinals in the semifinal round of the TSSAA Class 2A state playoffs.
Now, there’s just one more trip remaining for a team that has spent its entire postseason away from home.
The Lions (12-2) will play in the state championship game noon Saturday at Tucker Stadium in Cookeville.
“I’m just along for the ride and proud to be here,” said Dresden head coach Scott Hewett in deflecting the credit for his team’s postseason run. “I’m not taking any of the credit. We have great coaches and kids who want to win. They have a lot of heart. The other coaches do a great job, and we have great kids. It’s the other people.”
It marks the first-ever football state title appearance for Dresden, which will meet Friendship Christian School. The Commanders (11-3) punched their ticket with a 39-6 win over Oliver Springs in the semifinals.
Dresden earned its Cookeville trip with a balanced offense and an opportunistic defense that saw Adamsville get down and then put the Cardinals away.
And, once again, the Lions were led by Gatlin Hatchel.
The senior set the tempo from his safety spot on defense and then dictated the pace from the quarterback position.
Hatchel took an interception back 30 yards for the game’s first score late in the first quarter, providing a spark to his team after the Lions had punted twice earlier in the period.
“I got a big pick-six, and that got the momentum going,” Hatchel said. “I jumped the route and almost dropped it. I bobbled it, but I got in the end zone somehow.”
The score came as Adamsville, which had punted on its first drive, was trying to get out of a third-and-15 hole from its own 20 after being hit with a personal foul penalty two plays earlier.
Dresden’s offense, after gaining 36 yards on its first two possessions, piled up 293 with four touchdowns the rest of the way.
Hatchel was the ringleader, completing 8-of-9 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 86 yards on 18 carries.
Devan Raymer and Colter Swafford each had a TD catch, Raymer putting together a nice all-around game with two catches for 56 yards and seven carries for 35 yards and another TD.
While Raymer’s seven-yard TD run near the end of the first half put all the momentum back on Dresden’s side after the Cards had tied the game and his 25-yard TD catch early in the third period all but put the game away, it was his other reception that will go down as one of the game’s biggest plays.
Adamsville had forged a 13-all tie on its previous drive, going 66 yards in 13 plays for its most impressive series of the game with its score coming at 4:59 of the second quarter.
Dresden then moved just across midfield to the Cardinal 46 but appeared stalled at fourth-and-three.
But, Hatchel took the shotgun snap, faked a draw and pulled up to hit Raymer over the middle for 31 yards. Raymer then finished the drive two plays later after the ball had been moved to the seven on a pass interference call.
“When we need to,” Hewett said about his philosophy on going for it on fourth down. “Or, when we think we can break the other team’s spirit. Those things are big.”
Swafford’s TD catch came on a big play that trumped a big play from Adamsville.
The Cards’ followed Hatchel’s interception for a score with a quick strike, Zak Neary running 57 yards to get Adamsville within 7-6 on the final play of the first quarter.
The following possession, Dresden took the momentum right back when Swafford, sprinting through the Cards’ secondary, pulled in a Hatchel pass for a 71-yard touchdown at 10:45 of the second period.
“They caught us in cover-three look and ran four verticals on us,” Adamsville head coach Brandon Gray said. “You can’t cover four with three.”
While Dresden was firing on all cylinders for the game, Adamsville’s engine started to fall apart.
Wide receiver Jalen Kendall played only a few snaps in the second half due to an ankle injury, while Neary suffered a blow to the back of the head on the Cards’ second scoring drive and did not return to the game. He finished with 103 yards and a score on just 10 carries in less than one half of work.
“We got down in personnel,” Gray said. “Zak wanted to play, but one of our coaches upstairs said you can’t win a race with dead horses.”
Raymer’s scoring catch, coming at the end of 10-play, 71-yard drive, was a lesson in determination as he pulled in a screen to the right side and then took out two Adamsville defenders — Josh Shoate near the point of the catch and then Kasey Hurley at the goal line — for a 25-yard score with 4:29 to play in the third period.
“You see Raymer running over people at 135 pounds,” Hewett said. “Where does that come from? It’s all heart. You can’t always measure people with scales and a measuring stick. You have to look inside.”
That play was followed by Hatchel’s two-point conversion pass to Colin Kanehl for a 29-13 lead.
Dresden tacked on another TD in the fourth, Swafford running in from the three with 7:44 remaining.
After throwing two more picks earlier in the fourth, Adamsville scored with 1:10 to play on John Reed Odom’s two-yard run. Published in The WCP 11.29.11