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Farragut ‘Bowling Ball’ leads way in knocking down Sevier County


SEVIERVILLE — Farragut’s human “Bowling Ball,” long since retired from practice squad pin crushing, found some purple pins to knock down Friday night.

Fullback Jordan Freeman, a senior who’s come from practically nowhere in the local high school football world to a starting spot for the Admirals, ran through and around Sevier County defenders en route to 218 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

The end result was Farragut’s 41-21 romp over the Smoky Bears in TSSAA Class 6A opening round state playoff action Nov. 5 in SCHS’s Burchfield Stadium.

In his first year of playing high school football and nicknamed “Bowling Ball,” Freeman said his rise to success “took a lot of hard work. I had to earn my way, every second, every time. I’m thankful to the coaches for letting me get this opportunity.”


FHS head coach Eddie Courtney said of Freeman, “He just keeps knocking things down, like pins, most of the time he’s got two or three guys hanging on him.

“His junior year he was in my weightlifting class, and I kept talking to him about playing sports,” Courtney added. “… He was a scout team player for us the first half of the year. With all the injuries we’ve had at running back, he’s gotten his chance.

“He’s got a great attitude, smiles all the time.”

Farragut’s second round opponent is quite familiar, as perennial power and quadrant No. 2 seed Maryville (10-1) will host the Admirals at MHS next Friday, Nov. 12. Opening kickoff is 7 p.m.

Brooks Harper, FHS starting middle linebacker, said the 10-1 Rebels “are a perfectly beatable team” despite the Admirals’ 0-3 record versus MHS during the past two years — including a 24-17 loss at Maryville Oct. 15.

“Everybody thinks all about the past with Maryville; that’s not this team in 2010,” Harper added. “Those past teams, sure, they’ve won all those state championships, all those undefeated records. But that’s not this team now.

“We’re going to have to come out and execute.”

FHS 41 SEVIER COUNTY 21

No. 3 quadrant seed Sevier County had the superior record entering the game (ends 8-3), but No. 6 seed Farragut (now 7-4) had the superior performance.

Though allowing 380 total yards to Sevier County (versus FHS’s 396), Farragut’s defense shut out the Smoky Bears in the first half and were led by senior linebacker Conner Taylor’s 10 total tackles for the game.

“As a unit they’re playing much better,” Courtney said about his defense. “They keep gelling and making plays.”

Individually, “That linebacker corps tonight, Brooks, Conner and Thomas Jackson,” Courtney said about the unit’s solid play. “In the secondary, Bao [Nguyen], made some big hits; we’ve moved him to safety. The defensive front’s been consistent. They’ve all made plays.”

“And Ty [Perez] has stepped it up,” Courtney added about his senior running back/defensive back. “Ty Perez has done a great job.”

Harper, also a senior, added eight total tackles followed by Perez, Nguyen and defensive ends Robert Wrinkle and Jacob Whitney with six each.

With Sevier County known for its dangerous and efficient passing game, “The linebackers really had to work on getting in their drops this week,” Harper said.

Farragut struck quickly after Perez picked off SCHS quarterback Danny Chastain at the FHS 35, returning it 22 yards to the Smoky Bears 43.

A 12-yard Perez run to the right, a six-yard Jonathan King pass to Jason Bodak and Freeman’s 11-yard screen reception left the Ads fourth-and-one-half-yard at the Sevier 14.

Freeman broke away from a purple pile near the 12 and scored, and King’s conversion kick made it 7-0 at the 6:52 mark of the first quarter.

King, sophomore-starting quarterback, sent all eight of his kickoffs into the end zone while nailing a personal record 52-yard field goal plus a 41-yarder.

In addition to going five-of-five on extra points, King punted five times for a 41-yard average.

A 25-yard pass to Brett Pippen left the Smoky Bears near midfield on its second possession, but short-yardage hits from Taylor, Harper and Wrinkle stopped the next two Sevier marches with limited gain.

Braden Urevick’s 42-yard punt return set up Farragut at the SCHS 21 late in the first quarter, then an 11-yard Perez run moved it to the 10.

Getting all the way to the Smoky Bears 7, the Admirals were victimized by an illegal procedure penalty and bobbled field goal snap on a 29-yard attempt.

Another Sevier County offensive three-and-out left Farragut at the SCHS 46, where a Perez slip-screen reception moved it to the 21.

But a fumbled handoff was recovered by Sevier County at the SCHS 20.

However, the Smoky Bears gave it back two plays later when Perez broke up a flea-flicker (receiver catch-and-lateral), causing a fumble recovered by Garrett Bowdle at the Sevier 33.

A 15-yard draw to Freeman, on a third-and-16 run, left FHS fourth-and-one at the SCHS 24. Freeman converted with two yards, then got 11 more on a screen to the right.

Freeman scored two plays later, breaking wide open up the gut from nine yards out, making it 14-0 with 5:57 left in the half.

Seemingly ready to run out the clock before halftime, Farragut got a 25-yard run from Freeman, another draw, in the closing few seconds that landed FHS at the Smoky Bears 30.

An illegal procedure penalty seemingly took FHS out of field goal position, but Courtney allowed King to attempt a career-long 52-yarder.

He nailed it, as an excited Admirals bench went to the locker room up 17-0.

”We know he’s got a good leg, we felt like he could get it there,” Courtney said. “He’s done it in practice.”

Sevier County then marched 80 yards, aiding by two 15-yard FHS penalties and a series of short passes. A fourth-and-one Bubba Floyd one-yard plunge up the gut finally put Sevier County on the board. It was 17-7 with 4:11 left in the third quarter.

Momentum stayed purple despite a 12-yard Freeman draw, as a Farragut holding call negated the run and forced a punt.

But a 47-yard King punt and a nifty minus-6 return tackle by Austin Cooper left Sevier at its own 27.

Pass rush pressure from Taylor on third and long led to an apparent Smoky Bears punt. It didn’t happen.

A low punt snap resulted in Dakota Cogdill’s run attempt that was stopped by Whitney at the Sevier 26.

The Smoky Bears’ defense stiffened, but King nailed a 41-yard field goal with just 27 seconds left in the third making it 20-7.

Farragut seemingly iced the cake on a third-and-13 slip screen.

Perez took King’s toss, used a couple of nifty moves and a pair of key blocks to head outside right and down the sideline untouched. The 67-yard TD pass made it 27-7 with 10:50 to play.

Sevier County, however, struck quickly to once again make it a game.

On third-and-12 at its own 18, the Smoky Bears went long as Chastain hit Josh Johnson in stride down the right sideline. The 82-yard scoring strike cut the lead to 27-14 at the 9:43 mark.

An onside kick got loose, but was recovered by Taylor at the SCHS 47.

Freeman slid outside left and got 28 to the SCHS 16, then churned out eight before Jackson Fain broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and scored. It was 34-14 with 7:49 to play.

Freeman was running hard to the very end.

Following a 26-yard Smoky Bears touchdown pass with 1:57 to play, Freeman broke a 51-yard run followed by his 9-yard scoring scamper up the gut.

While Courtney praised the growth of his “young” offensive line, sophomore tackle Brett Dockery said the FHS OL “has come leaps and bounds.”

“We started off, a bunch of young guys out there playing with 100-percent effort all the time; now it’s nice having great depth at every position,” added Dockery about he and fellow linemen Miguel Aranda, Bobby Fricks, Paddy Doucette, Daniel Knipp, Jimbo Boyd, C.T. Leavell and Chris Beason.

“We’re gelling as a group.”

 

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