BRISTOL, Va. – Running the football has always been the prescription for success at Tennessee High. It still is, but they’re just doing it in a different manner.
Cole McBrayer threw for 399 yards and six touchdowns – including 390 yards and five scores in the first half alone – as Tennessee High defeated Virginia High 46-23 to claim its eighth straight V-T Game over the Bearcats on a humid Friday night at Gene Malcolm Stadium.
Those numbers earned McBrayer the most valuable player award for the Vikings.
“It is a good honor,” said the soft-spoken McBrayer, who also ran for 45 yards, including a 37-yard run that set up Jaden Keller’s second score of the game, a 4-yard run to make it 32-3 in the second quarter.
The senior signal-caller distributed the ball to nine different receivers among his 15 completions, led by Kelvin Coleman, who had three receptions for 43, 62 and 27 yards, narrowly missing a couple of touchdowns along the way.
“He has got a vision that he can see everybody,” Coleman said. “I just love him because he doesn’t leave me out to dry either … I was this close to scoring, wish I would have got in there, but all together I love this team. I had a bunch of fun and I am glad this was a tradition that we have.”
Tennessee High (2-1) which finished with 402 yards through the air, came out throwing the ball, nearly all on short passes that McBrayer’s teammates turned into big plays. Eleven of his 15 completions were for double-digit yards, ranging from 10 to 72 yards, an average of 34.3 yards per play.
“That is a good job of Coach [Wally] Proffitt of calling the plays and getting the people involved and guys making plays when they get the ball in their hand,” Tennessee High head coach Mike Mays said. “We are just trying to get our guys the ball.
“Short passing game, it is like running the football. It is kind of a different style for the Vikings and we are going to do what works. We have got some athletes so we just give them the ball.”
Virginia High (0-3) had no answers, narrowing the margin to 6-3 in the first quarter before the Vikings scored 34 points to take a 40-9 lead at the break.
“Obviously that was what they were going to come out and do and we struggled a little bit obviously against it,” Virginia High head coach Michael Crist said. “Give them credit, they executed the passing game really well so we will look at that aspect on film.”
McBrayer completed 4-of-5 on the opening possession of the game, with Coleman’s 43-yard catch and run setting up a 5-yard scoring pass to Reece Proffitt. Virginia High answered, keyed by a 50-yard run from Dominic Norris, but had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Stevie Thomas to narrow the margin to 6-3.
“I thought we did move the ball, but we didn’t finish too much there early,” Crist said. “I thought our special teams play was pretty good. It is a loss and I am not into moral victories, but by the same token, I feel like we are going to look at film and there is going to be a lot of bright spots. I think we have gotten tremendously better from week one as we should and that is a testament to the kids and the assistant coaches.”
It was all McBrayer and his receivers from that point, connecting with Lance Tudor (43), Keller (72) and Isaiah Smith (10) to go along with Keller’s short scoring run. The Bearcats got on the board on a 17-yard pass from Gage Richard to Thomas before the Vikings went into the half on a 27-yard scoring dart to Proffitt. Keller’s score was especially impressive, stiff-arming a pair of Bearcats along his way to the end zone.
“That was our game plan, just try to spread them out and throw it around a little bit and have some fun,” said McBrayer, who added a sixth score and nine yards to his tally with a scoring pass to Dominick Daggs for a 45-9 third quarter lead. “I like to distribute to everyone, I like to let everyone have some fun.”
Much to Coleman’s dismay, the Bearcats whittled the margin with a pair of second half runs by Thomas from 2 and 13 yards. Thomas, who was selected as Virginia High’s MVP in the game, finished with 126 yards on the ground.
“It was a lot of passing and I love it because it spreads out to more of the talent that we have, but I am not satisfied with the 23 points they put up,” Coleman said. “I felt like if we were in there longer maybe to the third quarter we could have shut them out. It is what is it is, but I love this team and it was a great fought game.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Virginia High, which will visit Wise County Central on Friday. The Warriors were unbeaten before falling to Ridgeview on Friday night.
“It doesn’t. We are going to heal up this weekend, the bumps and bruises and we are going to come back Monday,” Crist said. “I feel like we are getting better and I think we are going to find some positives from this.”
Tennessee High, which has played its last five games on the road – going back to a pair of playoff games last season – will finally return to the Stone Castle on Friday to play host to Morristown East.
“I am just glad I don’t have to get on a bus and go anywhere,” Mays said. “It was a scheduling conflicts and trying to get people to play us, but we are happy to be back. The good thing about it is we only have two road games the rest of the year so we are excited about being at home in front of the home crowd.”
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Tennessee High 13 27 6 0 - 46
Virginia High 3 6 7 7 - 23
TH-Reece Proffitt 5 pass from Cole McBrayer (kick failed)
VH-Stevie Thomas 30 field goal
TH-Lance Tudor 43 pass from McBrayer (Jacob Craft kick)
TH-Jaden Keller 72 pass from McBrayer (Craft kick)
TH-Isaiah Smith 10 pass from McBrayer (kick failed)
TH-Keller 4 run (Craft kick)
VH-Thomas 17 pass from Gage Richard (kick failed)
TH-Proffitt 27 pass from McBrayer (Craft kick)
TH-Dominick Daggs 9 pass from McBrayer (pass failed)
VH-Thomas 2 run (Parker Carroll kick)
VH-Thomas 13 run (Carroll kick)
First downs: TH 13; VH 15. Rush-Yards: TH 14-85; VH 32-223. Pass Yards: TH 402; VH 62.
Comp-Att-Int: TH 16-22-0; VH 4-50. Fumbles-Lost: TH 0-0; VH 4-0. Penalty-Yards: TH 4-30; VH 0-0. Punts-Avg.: TH 1-34.0; VH 3-37.6