When Farragut High School’s football team survived a tough Class 6A opening-round playoff game against Cleveland at home last week, it earned the right to face an opponent that really needs no introduction to high school fans across the Volunteer State.
The Admirals now head to Jim Renfro Field to face perennial powerhouse Maryville.
Opening kickoff is slated for 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 10, at MHS. The Rebels [10-1] are the program by which many teams in Tennessee use as a measuring stick.
Legendary longtime head coach George Quarles departed, taking an assistant coaching job at Furman, following the 2016 season. But Maryville hasn’t missed a beat, winning the Region 2-6A championship.
“We’ve got to get focused up and do what we do,” FHS head coach Eddie Courtney said. “We bounced back against Cleveland and got back on the winning track after we lost to Hardin Valley.
“We just have to worry about what we do and take chances when we can. We have to take advantage of our opportunities when we get them.”
In recent years, Maryville has accomplished seemingly unsurmountable feats on the gridiron. The Rebels had a long streak of state championship game appearances snapped last season when they lost to Oakland High in Murfreesboro in last year’s Class 6A semifinals.
The Patriots also handed Maryville its lone loss of the 2017 campaign.
While appearing in the state championship game every year from 2004 through 2015, Maryville has won four Class 6A state titles since moving up to Division I’s top level in 2009.
The last team to defeat Maryville in the regular season, before this year, was Alcoa .
“Maryville has had a great program but we don’t have to play all of those teams,” Courtney said. “We only have to play this team. We’re looking forward to a great week of practice and we’re approaching this like it’s any other game.
“Maryville doesn’t beat [itself] and you can stay on top when you don’t beat yourselves,” he added. “We’re going to have to be focused and play a solid game.”
The Rebels are coached by 2007 Maryville High School graduate Derek Hunt, who played quarterback under Quarles. Hunt split time under center with Brent Burnette — the duo led the Rebels to three state championships.
“Coach Hunt has done a good job sustain their success over there,” Courtney said.
Farragut will look to become the first Knox County team to beat Maryville since the Central Bobcats did it in 2000 — before the Rebels rebounded to go 11-4 and win it all.
Farragut [9-2] and the Red Rebels were one-time league rivals. The two schools last met in 2014, a 49-14 Maryville victory.
The series dates back to 1958 with the Rebels holding a 13-2 advantage. The Admirals last beat Maryville in 1991 when they claimed a 38-21 win.
Farragut linebacker Cade Burkey is all too familiar with Maryville’s reputation.
“I always heard about Maryville and I’ve known about them since my dad coached here,” said Burkey, who recovered a pair of fumbles last week against the Blue Raiders. “I know all about them and I’m just looking forward to going over there and showing them what we can do.”
Senior tight end Jacob Warren agreed.
“They’re definitely a great team and we’re looking forward to the chance to play on another Friday night,” he said.
Key players for Maryville include: Dylan Hopkins [a senior quarterback and Alabama-Birmingham commitment who threw for 195 yards and a touchdown against Bearden last week, a 28-0 Rebels win]; Isaiah Cobb [a running back who had 103 yards and scored against the Bulldogs]; and defensive back Will Orren [who had two interceptions in the opening round of the playoffs].