Gavin Wilkinson was thrust into the spotlight as Farragut High School’s football team, ranked No. 6 statewide in Class 6A, played its home opener on Thursday, Aug. 31.
And the sophomore quarterback shined.
Wilkinson, who made his first high school start under center, threw for 328 yards [15 of 24] and four touchdowns as the Admirals knocked off Morristown West 33-10 in the Region 1-6A opener for both schools at FHS’s Bill Clabo Field.
“It was just good to come out here and win that first region game against a good team,” said Wilkinson, who had been splitting time with Jake Evans at quarterback while senior and projected starter Max Travis has been recovering from a finger injury he suffered in the preseason.
“We’ve got some great big-time players and we just have to get them the ball,” he added.
Wilkinson certainly wasted little time accomplishing that task. Farragut [3-0 overall, 1-0 in the region] scored the first touchdown of the contest when the first-time starter connected with Andrew Williams on a 51-yard scoring strike to make the score 6-0 just past the midway point of the opening stanza.
The Ads, however, missed the extra point, which was blocked.
But the touchdown was the first of three for FHS in the opening frame.
Farragut took a 12-0 lead when Isaiah Gibbs scored on a 2-yard plunge with 3 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Admirals extended their advantage to 14-0 when Wilkinson connected with Jacob Warren for a 2-point conversion.
Farragut scored another touchdown when Wilkinson connected with Jaden Gibbs from 14 yards out as time expired in the inaugural frame. The Trojans (1-2) blocked another extra point but the Admirals still had a 20-0 lead.
The Trojans clawed their way back into the contest in the second quarter as Jadon Payne scored on a 2-yard run with 7:20 remaining. Morristown West pulled to within 20-10 when Juan Villasenor kicked a 43-yard field goal with 2:10 to go.
Farragut missed a field goal just before halftime, as the second quarter against the Trojans continued a dubious trend for the Admirals, who have gotten off to fast starts in every game this season only to struggle in the second quarter in each game.
“We’ve done what you want to do in the first quarter,” Farragut head coach Eddie Courtney said. “We start fast and then we don’t play well in the second quarter. I don’t really know why.
“I can figure it out once I get to know the character of this team a little better. We’ve gotten better with every game that we’ve played this year.”
After a difficult second stanza, the Admirals were able to reclaim control of the contest after halftime as Wilkinson had two more touchdown tosses. He connected with Williams on a 39-yarder to make the score 27-10 late in the third frame.
He also helped the Ads avert disaster in the fourth quarter when he fielded a bad snap, dodged a few Trojans defenders and found Wyatt Lucas in the end zone from 23 yards out.
His heroics culminated a drive that saw a pair of Farragut scores nullified by penalties.
Courtney said he was proud of the way that his team fought through some adversity on its final scoring drive.
“I was disappointed because we had those penalties but I was proud of the way we fought back,” he said.
While Wilkinson had a stellar effort, the Admirals also got a big game from Isaiah Gibbs, who scored a touchdown, had an interception and set up another score with a big punt return.