By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Beating Adamsville for a second straight season in the Class 2A semifinals to advance to back-to-back BlueCross Bowl state championship games proved to be too big a task for Dresden — literally.
Dominating the fifth-ranked Lions behind huge offensive and defensive lines, No. 4 Adamsville got a measure of revenge for last year’s loss with a 28-7 mauling Friday before a standing-room-only gathering at Rotary Field.
The loss brought to a close a second consecutive stellar season for Dresden, which won 23 games over the past two years — 11 this fall under first-year head coach Keith Hodge.
Unlike a year ago when the Lions made it to their first-ever state title game, Dresden couldn’t measure up to that task against an Adamsville offensive front that averaged nearly 275 pounds-per-man and included a pair of 300-pounders.
Despite the absence of standout tailback Zak Neary (injured shoulder), the Cardinals rolled up 395 yards of offense and also used a similar size advantage on the defensive side to limit the Lions to just 105 total yards.
Dalton Plunk threw two touchdown passes in the last 2:28 — one to 6-foot-3 Ross Burcham and the other to 6-foot-4 Jacob Terry — as the Redbirds took advantage of a huge height edge on the outside too, against much shorter Dresden defensive backs.
Devan Raymer went over the 2,000-yard rushing mark and scored the Lions’ lone TD on an 11-yard run with 3:35 to play.
Meanwhile, rural West Tennessee will have a representative in four of the six Division I BlueCross Bowl games next weekend in Cookeville as Huntingdon (1A), Adamsville (2A), Milan (3A) and Covington (4A) all qualified for their respective championship matchups with semifinal wins on Friday.
The following is a recap of those games.
Huntingdon 35, NCS 7
The fourth-ranked Mustangs (12-2) continued their stampede through the postseason, scoring 35 first-half points to invoke the mercy rule against Nashville Christian.
Huntingdon has won its four playoff games by 35, 36, 31 and now 28 points.
Mr. Football Back of the Year finalist Jacob Warbritton ran for 225 yards and two scores and needs just 124 yards in the 1A BlueCross Bowl to set a state single-season rushing record. Warbritton has 2,919 yards after his latest outburst Friday.
NCS (11-3) avoided the shutout with a score in the final seconds.
The Ponies, who won a state title in 2003, will play in a championship for the first time since 2005 Friday at 11 a.m. against top-ranked Gordonsville (12-1), which won a title in 1984.
Milan 16, CPA 8
The eighth-ranked Bulldogs — making their sixth straight semifinal appearance — earned a rematch with No. 3 and reigning champion CAK (Christian Academy of Knoxville) by handing second-ranked CPA its first loss in 14 games.
As has been the case, Milan hitched up two-way star Arkel Coleman and rode him to another victory.
Coleman rushed 48 times for 230 yards and a TD while also helping a Bulldog defense force four turnovers and hold a prolific CPA passing attack in check.
Milan, which has four state titles in its illustrious history, will look for its first championship since 1999 while trying to avenge a 49-14 loss to CAK in last year’s BlueCross Bowl title game.
It will mark the fourth time in the past five seasons that Milan has played in the 3A title game.
Covington 34, Liberty 14
The unbeaten and No. 2-ranked Chargers earned their fourth crack at a gold ball and first since 2003 behind Mr. Football Back of the Year candidate Johnston White and the passing of T.A. Watson.
White dashed 83 yards to paydirt on Covington’s first offensive snap and ended up with 195 yards and two scores.
Watson threw long TD passes covering 85 yards to Tyrone Tipton and 75 yards to Carlos Williams as the Chargers rolled up 476 yards and ended the Cinderella postseason run of Liberty (9-5), which had upset top-seed (Quad 3) Lexington and No. 2 White House to advance to the semis.
Beech 64, Northside 31
Buccaneer tailback Jalen Hurd — ranked as one of the top juniors in the nation — proved to be every bit as good as advertised with 401 rushing yards and five touchdowns as Beech ran off 50 second-half points, including 36 unanswered to win a battle of 13-0 teams.
The showdown between the two top-ranked clubs in the final Associated Press poll produced the offensive fireworks that most everyone had predicted with the offenses combining for 1,007 yards and 95 points.
No. 2 Northside — coached by South Fulton High School product and two-sport UT Martin standout Tab Vowell — more than held its own in the first half, holding the ball for all but 4:40 and totaling 309 yards.
Star quarterback Adam Craig ended his spectacular four-year career by throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns and running for another 103 yards.
Craig ended his senior season with nearly 4,000 all-purpose yards.
Published in The Messenger 11.26.12