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Defense, kicking gives FHS first 5-0 start under CourtneyDefense, kicking gives FHS first 5-0 start under Courtney
Field-goals hold up in Admirals’ soggy 6-0 win vs. McMinn


Among a soggy but happy pile of players, coaches, managers, cheerleaders and student-fans, Farragut High School head football coach Courtney simply proclaimed “five-and-0.”

The roar that followed pierced the blanket of raindrops in and around Farragut Stadium following the Admirals’ 6-0 victory against Region 2-5A rival McMinn County Thursday evening, Sept. 16.

Thanks to Farragut pitching its second straight shutout and kicker Thomas Riddle defying wind and rain to nail a pair of field goals on top of a late-game 44-yard punt to pin the Cherokee offense, the Admirals’ record stays perfect at 5-0, 2-0 in the region. McMinn falls to 1-3, 0-2 in the region.


In his ninth season as FHS head coach, Courtney is enjoying his first 5-0 start — plus an open date this Friday. “It seems like these kids just keep, each week, getting a little bit better,” he said. “And that’s what we have to do starting down that five game stretch of the region (beginning Oct. 1 on homecoming night against William Blount).”

Senior offensive lineman Robert Facklam added: “Five-and-0 is a great honor ... it’s times like these why we play the game of football.”

Senior defensive lineman Chaz Graham was part of a Farragut defense that gave up just 56 yards of offense the entire game — with 11 minus-yardage stops.

“Another great shutout by the defense,” said Graham, who had five tackles while also playing on the offensive line. “Our defensive line really stepped up today,” “We kept puttin’ pressure on ’em, our linebackers stepped up with a great defensive game as usual. We came to play tonight.”

As for individual minus-yardage stops, outside linebackers Tyler Ladd and Brian Tipton led with three each followed by defensive tackle Tommy Lawhorn with two.

Inside linebacker Nick Reveiz led FHS with nine tackles. Tipton was next with eight, followed by linebackers Tony Manilla and Court Courtney, along with Lawhorn, each with seven. Safety Jovon Miller and Ladd each had six.

“I was proud of the way the whole defense played together, especially against a wing-T offense,” Coach Courtney said. “Especially our outside (line)backers, Brian Tipton and Tyler Ladd. I know Nick Reveiz had another good night, and Court and Tony Manilla both had seven tackles.”

The Cherokees’ deepest penetration of the game came midway into the fourth quarter at the FHS 33. That’s where Lee Travis’ open-field tackle stopped McMinn one yard short of a first down with 7:46 to play.

Two plays after Riddle’s 44-yard punt pinned McMinn at their own 23 with less than a minute to play, defensive back Blake White intercepted a deep lob pass down the sideline with 40 seconds left to secure victory.

Starting the season inexperienced in the secondary, “our secondary’s come on now a little bit,” coach Courtney said.

As for Riddle’s field goals of 29- and 44-yards in the first half, “kicking into the wind I got lucky and got enough ball to get it through,” Riddle said. “I’m always confident in my ability.”

During a post-game interview, Court Courtney gave Riddle a slap on the back. “Kicker’s the man,” Courtney said. “He’s clutch. He’s been doing it all year.”

Coach Courtney was equally impressed: “Thomas works real hard, he and Patrick (Ladd, who kicks extra points) both have.”

Rushing for 189 yards on 44 attempts, the FHS offense managed to penetrate the Cherokee 25-yard-line four times, each ending with a field goal try. Fullback Nick Moore led the way with 91 yards on 16 attempts followed by tailback Michael Wright’s 50 yards on 14 attempts. Miller rushed six times for 37 yards.

“Our runningbacks did an incredible job tonight in these conditions,” FHS quarterback Nick French said.

The Farragut attack did suffer a case of the drops, fumbling four times and losing one. That doesn’t include a fumble by French that McMinn recovered early in the second quarter at the Admiral 24 only to have it wiped out by an MCHS face mask penalty.

“I take all the responsibility for those fumbles,” French said. “I know it’s my fault, but it’s so hard to hold onto the ball in these conditions. But it was an excellent team win. It took all of us to win.”

Said FHS offensive lineman Shaun Smith, “It was very hard, the ground was real slippery. But we worked hard … we did well in these weather conditions.”

Facklam didn’t seem to mind. “These conditions are a lineman’s heaven,” he said. “They love to play it down and dirty, and that’s me too, yes sir.”

 

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