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Hardin Valley rips Karns; playoff trip to Sevier

Hardin Valley Academy football head coach Wes Jones got exactly what he wanted from his team Friday night.

He saw his Hawks clinch a Class 6A playoff spot. Hardin Valley used a stifling defense to nab a 31-7 District 3-AAA victory over rival Karns on a cold and rainy night at HVA.

“We challenged our defense to come out here and end the season the same way we started the season,” said Jones, whose Hawks (6-4 overall, 5-3 in the district) make the Class 6A playoffs for a second straight season, this time as a No. 6 seed traveling to No. 3 Sevier County (9-1, 7-0) next Friday, Nov. 4, for the opening round.

Against Karns, “Our defense played really well tonight,” Jones added.

That may have been the understatement of the 2011 season.

The Hawks got a stellar performance from its defense, which stole the show early.

The Beavers (6-4, 5-3) took the opening possession and went backwards.

Karns had the ball for just two plays before Hardin Valley scored when Lee Warren tackled Karns quarterback Tyler Stewart in the end zone for a safety to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead just 59 seconds into the game.

That was the only scoring of the opening stanza.

The Beavers’ offense even surrendered eight more points.

Hardin Valley got another safety in the fourth quarter and DeMonte Felton returned a Stewart interception 32 yards for a score early in the third quarter.

Hawks junior linebacker Matt Rabren was the defensive star as he finished with 12 tackles (including three for loss) and three sacks. He was also credited with HVA’s second safety of the game. Warren finished with nine tackles and recovered a fumble.

Senior linebacker Matt Winstead made three tackles and had an interception.

“We needed our defense to play this way,” Jones said. “Lee had a great game. Matt Rabren was all over the field and it was great to see Matt Winstead have the kind of game that he had.

“Our defensive line did a great job and our young secondary really stepped up tonight.”

While HVA’s defense had control of things all night, senior running back Dorian Eskridge provided the offensive punch that would eventually put the Hawks into the Class 6A playoffs.

Eskridge, one of the KFL’s top rushers, had 245 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries.

“We knew that we were going to come in here and run the football in this weather,” said Eskridge, who had TD scampers of 34, 36 and 18 yards respectively.

“We finished with a winning season and I’m pumped about getting a chance to go back to the playoffs.

“Hat’s off to our defense. They really played well tonight. This was a great way to end the regular season at Hardin Valley.”

The Hawks extended their lead to 9-0 on Eskridge’s first touchdown run with 8:54 left in the first half.

On the Beavers’ first third-quarter play from scrimmage, Warren had his fumble recovery, which set up Eskridge’s second score making it 22-0.

The Beavers scored their lone touchdown on a 76-yard run by Xavier Harper.

Hardin Valley answered with its second safety and Eskridge added the exclamation point with his final 36-yard scoring dash.


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