When Farragut High School returns to action at Bill Clabo Field Friday night, it may have some extra motivation.
The Admirals, with a 3-0 record in 2017 while in the midst of a 15-game winning streak, are ranked No. 6 statewide in Class 6A. Farragut will host Oak Ridge, with a 7:30 p.m. opening kickoff Sept. 8.
The Wildcats (2-1) were the last team to beat Farragut.
That victory would eventually net Oak Ridge the 2016 Region 3-5A championship. But the Wildcats would make an early exit from the playoffs while the Admirals would win the 5A state title and bring a gold football back from Cookeville.
Friday night will represent the 43rd installment in one of East Tennessee’s longer-running football rivalries. The series dates back to 1977 and the two teams have played every year since 1993. The Wildcats hold a 30-12 advantage in the series and have won three playoff games against the Admirals: 1998, 2004 and 2005.
However, Farragut dominated the series from 2006 through 2015.
The two teams have been league foes several times over the years and were Region 3-5A opponents the previous two seasons. With the Admirals moving up to Class 6A this season, the game has no playoff implications.
“It’s not a league game but it matters on your overall record,” Admirals head coach Eddie Courtney said. “The game is always big for both teams because we’ve played so many times.
“It’s always a good game for us and it’s always a classy game between two good teams. I think the first time we played was back in 1977. Then, we were in their classification for years.
“Then [the series] went away for awhile,” the Admirals skipper added. “Over the years, we’ve probably played them as much or more than we’ve played anybody.”
The Admirals won their home opener last week when they routed Morristown West 33-10 (see related story beginning on page 8B).
Gavin Wilkinson, a sophomore, and junior Jake Evans have split time at quarterback in 2017 while projected starter and senior Max Travis has been shelved with a finger injury.
“They’ve both played well and done a good job for us,” Courtney said. “We have a lot of weapons and we’re going to have to use all of those weapons.”
The coach noted that Travis may play against the Wildcats this week.
As for Oak Ridge, the Wildcats are coming off a 17-15 comeback win versus Campbell County last Friday.
They overcame a 9-0 deficit with 17 consecutive points and prevailed late when the Cougars missed a potential game-winning two-point conversion.
After Oak Ridge opened its season with a 21-20 victory against Hardin Valley Academy at Blankenship Field — when the Hawks missed a tying extra point attempt with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter — the Wildcats fell to Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett 28-25 one week later.
Players to watch for Oak Ridge include quarterback Johnny Stewart, who threw for 211 yards and a pair of scores in Jacksboro.
His favorite targets are Caleb Martin and Jeremy Mitchell.
Running back Jordan Graham is a top player in the area.