|Patriots pack up 1st state title
|Posted: Monday, December 5, 2011 7:01 pm
|By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
COOKEVILLE — Henry County truly painted the town red Friday night.
It was shade of ‘Big Red.’
The Patriots won the school’s first-ever state football championship and completed a perfect run through the 2011 season with a 17-14 victory over previously-unbeaten Powell in the Class 5A BlueCross Bowl state title game.
Well over 5,000 red-clad HC faithful celebrated the feat along with iconic head coach James Counce — the toast of Paris and a South Fulton High School graduate.
Kyle Ainley’s 32-yard field goal with less than two minutes to play proved to be the difference in the contest that matched the co-No. 1s in the final Associated Press state rankings.
Henry County defensive tackle Randall Dunlap secured the victory with 31 seconds left when he sacked Powell’s Dustin McPhetridge and recovered the QB’s fumble after the Panthers had driven to the Patriot 15 yard line. Dunlap, who had seven tackles, another for a loss and the sack, was named the game’s Defensive MVP.
HC quarterback Najee Ray ran for 154 yards, while teammate Shaquille Allen rushed for 142 yards and both Henry County TDs.
The Patriots were the only rural West Tennessee entry to bring home the gold ball of a state championship as Dresden (2A) and Milan (3A), along with Division II entry USJ were all beaten in their respective title games.
The following is a recap.
FCS 34, Dresden 0
The Lions’ magical march to their first-ever championship came up one victory short on Saturday.
Dresden (12-3), which had won four straight road playoff games and set a school mark for most victories along the way, was done in by poor special teams’ play and a staunch FCS defensive front.
The Commanders (12-3) scored on the first snap following a failed fake punt by the Lions deep in their own territory, a partially deflected quick kick and another blocked punt.
The winners gained just 170 total yards — all on the ground — but forced three turnovers, two inside their own 30 when Dresden was threatening.
Lion standout QB was roughed up regularly by the FCS defensive front, but still ran for 51 yards and threw for another 108.
CAK 49, Milan 14
Mr. Football Back of the Year winner Charlie High put on a show unlike any other ever in the state championship game, completing 32-of-41 passes for 477 yards and seven touchdowns as CAK (13-2) mercy-ruled the Bulldogs.
Milan (13-2) was denied its fifth state title in its eighth appearance in a championship game, losing in the BlueCross Bowl for the third time in the last four years.
High threw five of his touchdowns passes and for 377 yards in the first half when CAK built a commanding 35-7 lead.
Wayne Co. 27, So. Pitt. 14
Offensive MVP Austin Rice accounted for 280 of WC’s 340 yards and the Wildcats dethroned single-A champ South Pittsburg while completing a perfect 14-0 season and winning the school’s first-ever state football title.
Rice, the youngest son of head coach Ricky Rice — a former head coach at Lake County — ran for two scores and 214 yards while throwing for a third TD and for 66 yards on 4-of-7 passing. Austin was a two-time all-state receiver before taking over the QB reins from his bother Tyler to start the season.
Tyler Rice was a Mr. Football Back of the Year winner in 2010 and redshirted his freshman year in college this past fall after signing with UT Martin.
WC’s veer option offense ultimately wore down the heavily-favored Pirates, much as Union City’s did in the 2009 title game.
G’ville 37, Maplewood 0
The Greene Devils repeated as 4A champions with the most convincing of victories in the public school division.
Tanner Stewart ran for 191 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another score as Greeneville (14-1) won its 13th straight game this year.
The Greene Devils had beaten Maplewood 17-7 in the semifinals a year ago on the way to their first title.
Maryville 23, Whitehaven 7
Thirteen and counting.
The Rebels won their 13th state title — the most by any program in Tennessee — and second in a row, completing another perfect 15-0 season along the way.
Jacob West ran for two TDs and the Maryville defense held Whitehaven without an offensive score.
Maryville broke its tie with arch-rival Alcoa for most football state championships
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. Published in The Messenger 12.5.11