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Westside Class 6A playoff teams out
Hardin Valley edged at Sevier County

SEVIERVILLE — Hardin Valley Academy came up just short of recording its first postseason victory Friday night, but the Hawks made an emphatic statement in a 24-21 loss at Sevier County in the opening round of the TSSAA Class 6A playoffs Nov. 4.

“This is big for our organization and we can only get better from here,” Hawks senior running back Jordan Newport said. “This was huge because we came in here and proved that we weren’t a joke, even if we came up a little short.”

Throughout the contest, HVA, which finished a roller coaster 2011 campaign with a 6-5 record, battled through adversity against the Smoky Bears, Tennessee’s sixth-ranked Class 6A team.

Early on, it looked as though Sevier County (10-1) would dominate thanks to a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. But things would prove to be anything but easy for the Smoky Bears.

Hardin Valley responded by engineering a 12-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard scoring plunge by senior running back Jason Weaver. Michael Peryo’s point after trimmed Sevier County’s lead in half late in the first quarter.

Hardin Valley’s defense, as it has done all year, came up with a big play. On the Smoky Bears’ first play from scrimmage following Weaver’s TD, Matt Rabren intercepted a pass at the Sevier County 25.

The Hawks promptly converted the miscue into a touchdown when quarterback Tim Vara, another Hardin Valley senior, hit Newport with a 13-yard scoring strike. Vara’s first TD pass of the season capped off a three-play drive that tied the game.

Vara closed out his high school career with his best performance of the season, going 8-for-13 for 87 yards.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this senior class,” Hawks coach Wes Jones said. “We came over here to win this ball game and they did everything that we asked them to do.

“Sevier County is a good football team and they’ve been scoring 40 points per game and we held them to 24. It was 3-0 in the second half.”

The Smoky Bears took a 21-14 lead with 10:40 left in the first half, but the lead was short-lived.

The Hawks took the ensuing kickoff, and running back Dorian Eskridge provided the finishing touch with an electrifying 75-yard scoring scamper.

Eskridge closed his prep career with another stellar effort. He carried 20 times and had 147 yards. “This was a great game to play,” Eskridge said. “My teammates are like family to me. This senior class has made an impact on Hardin Valley.”

From there, the defenses stole the show. The Smoky Bears managed only a 21-yard field goal with eight minutes left in the third quarter.

Devin Cox had an interception for the Hawks.


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