By Steve Williams
It’s not all that rare, but it is special when two local teams from the same county collide deep in the state high school football playoffs.
This Friday night, unbeaten South-Doyle and once-beaten West will square off in such a game.
And a state championship could be on the horizon for the survivor of this Class 5A quarterfinal showdown.
It’s that big.
The two Knox County powers will tangle at South-Doyle’s Billy K. Nicely Memorial Stadium. An overflow crowd is expected, says Clark Duncan, South-Doyle’s head coach and athletic director.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The game will be televised on WVLT.
The Cherokees (12-0) earned the No. 1 seed and home field advantage by winning the District 2-AAA championship. The Rebels (11-1) received the No. 2 seed by finishing second behind perennial state power Maryville in District 4-AAA.
West hasn’t lost since bowing to Maryville 31-16 in its second game.
The two teams have arrived at this juncture on much different paths.
West, under Coach Scott Cummings, has been in state title contention three of the past four seasons, including a 28-27 loss to Henry County in last season’s championship game.
Duncan came out of coaching retirement six years ago to rebuild the South-Doyle program. It’s been a long climb – from 0-10 in 2009 to 10-0 this season.
The two teams have at least one similarity in that each has a running back that’s committed to a major college – West’s Nathan Cottrell (Georgia Tech) and South-Doyle’s Jocquez Bruce (Tennessee) – and outstanding quarterbacks.– Seth Marshall for the Rebels and Brody Rollins for the Cherokees.
Both teams also boast strong supporting casts.
Sonny Moore’s Computer Power Ratings have West favored by 11 points.