By Alex Norman
According to Google, Webb School and Knoxville Catholic High School are only separated by 1.9 miles.
These days the power in their rivalry is located on the west side of that roadway.
On Thursday, October 24th, the Spartans beat the Fighting Irish 34-7, their fifth straight victory in the series.
The Spartans took the only opening kickoff and drove 51 yards on 8 plays, in just over 3 ½ minutes. Robby Strachan ran it up the middle from three yards out, giving Webb a 7-0 lead. The big play on that drive was a 19 yard run by future Tennessee Vol Todd Kelly Jr., which put Webb inside the Catholic 10.
The Irish responded with a good looking drive that brought them to the Webb 8. But the drive ended without any points for the Irish, when a 38 yard field goal attempt by Wyatt Price was wide to the left.
With 3:56 to go in the first, the score remained 7-0 in favor of Webb.
Late in the first half the Spartans (7-2) would add to their lead. Their drive started on the Catholic 33 with 7:25 to go in the second quarter.
On the 6th play of the drive, Webb coach David Meske got a little adventurous. On 3rd and 14 from the Irish 41, the pitch went to Kelly. Instead of running, he was throwing. A 19 yard laser to Brock Beeler was complete at the Catholic 40, extending the drive.
“We always have two or three plays ready for each game,” said Meske. “TK (Todd Kelly Jr.) did a good job getting the ball to the open guy.”
Finally, on the 12th play of the drive, Kelly ran it in from a yard out, and with 2:51 to go in the half, Webb was on top 14-0.
And that’s the way things stood at intermission.
With 3:05 remaining in the third, Kelly put the game away. On 4th and 2 from the Catholic 20, Kelly took the handoff, followed his blockers, and ran into the end zone for his second touchdown, giving Webb a 21-0 lead. Kelly finished with 120 yards rushing on the night.
“TK is just a great player and young man,” said Meske. “He played well and did the little things right.”
On the Spartans next possession, they once again got the job done on the ground. Strachan took the handoff, ran up the middle, and then ran past every Irish defender. His 63 yard scamper put Webb up 28-0 with 1:20 to go in the third. That long gain helped Strachan tally 125 yards on the ground against Catholic.
The Spartans would dent the scoreboard again with just under four minutes remaining when Matthew Melton took the pitch to the right side, showed great patience in waiting for a hole to open, got to the sideline and he was gone, putting Webb up 34-0.
Elijah Brown would help Catholic (7-2) avoid the shutout with a 6 yard touchdown run with 30 seconds to go, but Webb won the game 34-7.
Not to be overshadowed was the play of the Spartans defense. “We have some outstanding athletes,” said Meske. “Our coaches put them in a position to be successful and they work hard each day.”
The Spartans finish the regular season on Friday when they travel to King’s Academy. The Irish will also hit the road in their last game before the playoffs, to face 8-1 Alcoa. The winner of that game takes home the District 4-AA title.