As a way to reward Farragut High School football’s historic moment last Friday night, head coach Eddie Courtney appealed to every Admirals football fan who lives within 100 miles of Cookeville.
“Let’s make it a home game,” Courtney said during the team’s post-game huddle in reference to supporting the program’s first football state championship game. The Ads face defending state champ Independence [14-0] in the Class 5A state showdown. Opening kickoff is 7 p.m. CST, 8 p.m. EST, Friday, Dec. 2, at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.
Farragut earned its way with a 45-14 state semifinal win versus South-Doyle Nov. 25 at FHS’s Bill Clabo Field. The Ads improve to 13-1.
Looking ahead to next Friday was Brandon Guidish, Farragut senior defensive end who was a prominent force in numerous short-yardage and minus-yardage stops plus sacks. “We really want to take it all this year,” Guidish said.
“Me and my team, we’ve worked so hard for this. It’s a great feeling to be able to make school history and go to state,” said Drew Butler, junior linebacker who also made several short-yardage and minus-yardage stops.
“I know a lot of hard work and a lot of years have gone into this,” Jack DeVault, senior wide receiver/defensive back, said.
“Since day one we’ve all been working hard and we all had this goal in mind. So we’ve never stopped, we’ve been pushing each other every single day,” Joe Doyle, senior All-American punter/kicker, said.
“It’s been a really big year for us. Since last year [reaching state quarterfinals with 11-2 final record], we’ve had the goal to come back and go to state, and now we made it,” Jackson Powers, junior right tackle, said. “I’m happy for my team and happy for my school.”
About his team, Courtney said, “The biggest thing is that they played with their heart tonight. They just reached down, took all the distractions out this week. … Just a great team effort.”
Specifically, “I thought our offensive line gave great protection with Adam [Fulton] throwing the football,” Courtney said. “And Braden [Collins] and Jack and all of the receivers, they did a good job. And Cooper [Hardin] getting the hard yardage as a running back. And Amon [Johnson] got in there and contributed running,” he added.
“And defense, just playing hard-nosed. And special teams, golly bum, Joe punting and kicking. And we had good coverage tonight.”
Hardin, a senior who’s also a huge presence at linebacker, joined senior defensive lineman Will Everett for more key short-yardage and minus-yardage stops plus sacks.
Trey Minix’s blocked punt, his second in the playoffs, was recovered by Andrew Williams in the end zone with 10:42 left in the first quarter. The first of five Doyle extra points made it 7-0.
A pair of connections between quarterback Fulton and Collins totaled 32 yards. Fulton, showing elusiveness under pressure, rolled left and planted before lobbing to a wide-open Jacob Warren in the end zone, 22 yards, with just 17.8 seconds left in the first quarter.
South-Doyle [8-6] answered with a 77-yard slip screen setting up a quarterback sneak touchdown, cutting the lead to 14-7.
Two possessions later, Fulton hit Collins for 28 yards, setting up Doyle’s successful 38-yard field goal with 5:28 left in the half.
Hardin weaved his way 30 yards, using good downfield blocking including one by DeVault, to make it 24-7 with 10:02 left in the third quarter.
A 47-yard Cherokees TD pass trimmed the lead to 24-14 with 7:27 left in the third quarter.
Johnson got loose on the right side for 17 yards to the FHS 46. Jaden Gibbs took a short pass left for 18 yards to the SDHS 36.
Fulton then hit a wide-open DeVault on a slant pattern at the 15, as the senior receiver easily completed a 26-yard touchdown reception. It was 31-14.
Minix partially blocked another punt, with Farragut taking over at the Cherokees 42.
It only took one play to convert seven more points. Fulton hit Collins deep over the middle, as the junior receiver broke a tackle and scored. It was 38-14.
Doyle’s 50-yard punt started the fourth quarter.
A Griffen Swicegood interception at the FHS 39 set up Hardin, who ran for 16 and 17 yards on a march to the South-Doyle 17.
Sophomore Kyle Carter raced outside and scored from the 6, making it 45-14 with 9:14 to play. Zach Caro added the extra point.
Max Travis returned an interception 30 yards late in the game.
Clark Duncan, Cherokees head coach, said about the Admirals, “I see no reason why they can’t go and win it all. They’ve got all the tools to win it.”