BRISTOL - Two teams with plenty of speed will be on display tonight at Gene Malcolm Stadium.
Virginia High (0-2) showed its speed in last week’s loss to John Battle, scoring on a 67-yard run by Ajanni Delaney and having a late 44-yard touchdown scamper by Stevie Thomas nullified by a motion penalty.
“I do think our speed is there. We have got to progress in terms of our blocking. Football 101, you have got to block well and you have got to tackle well to have a shot,” Virginia High head coach Michael Crist said. “We are getting better, but that is an area we need to improve on.
“We feel like we have some skill at running back, we just have to find a way to get them going and break them.”
Tennessee High (1-1) will be looking to contain the Bearcats.
“They have got some speed over there. Anytime you have got to speed on that side of the football and their scheme they run, Coach Crist does an excellent job with what he has got every year,” said Tennessee High head coach Mike Mays. “He is always prepared for us and when somebody has got speed and they can break tackles, you have just got to be able to fit on defense where you are supposed to fit and then wrap up and make tackles.”
Crist is equally concerned about the Vikings, who blanked Daniel Boone last week after falling to Dobyns-Bennett in the opener.
“If not for two or three plays they would have had D-B on the ropes. I saw the score and then I looked at the film and the film doesn’t tell the story of the score,” Crist said. “They were in there with D-B, don’t let that score fool you.
“They are good, they are talented, they have got more speed than they have had in the past couple of years and they are playing with a little chip on their shoulder.”
Tennessee High has made a couple of adjustments, moving ETSU commit Nolan Wishon from tight end to tackle, while the Vikings now have the services of Isaiah Smith, who had to sit out the opener.
“That is probably (Nolan’s) future anyway. He is a team player, I mean I can’t say enough about his willingness to do so and it has just made us a lot better up front,” Mays said. “Isaiah Smith is back. He violated some team rules there early. He has had his punishment and he is back and he has been great. “
While Tennessee High will finally return home next week to face Morristown East, the schedule promises to stay testy for the Bearcats.
All that awaits are unbeaten Wise County Central, Chilhowie and Abingdon, followed by defending Class 2 state champion Graham.
“It is an important game because it is the next one so I don’t know if you can prepare any different just because it is a rivalry and how traditional it is among the community,” said Crist, whose Bearcats last defeated the Vikings in 2011. “As much as anything, if you prepare more for this week than you do for other weeks then you are not doing your job the other weeks.”
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