“It was crazy,” said Carter, Farragut High School’s senior running back, who emerged as one of the area’s more potent and consistent offensive weapons last season and had a pair of early carries in the Admirals’ 10-0 victory over Gibbs Friday night’s one-quarter, 12-minute game. I looked up there and saw the people. I just couldn’t believe that I was playing in Neyland Stadium.
“I want to thank (Tennessee football head) coach (Jeremy) Pruitt and (athletic director Phillip) Fulmer for bringing this back here and giving us the opportunity to play here.”
Eddie Courtney, Farragut’s longtime head football coach, agreed.
“We told the kids to act like this was Saturday afternoon and they were playing in the backyard,” Courtney said. “This is just like wearing orange.”
Junior Gabe Hensley had three carries on the Admirals’ scoring drive. He amassed 39 yards on those three carries, including a 12-yard scoring scamper.
“He got his chance,” Courtney said of Hensley.
Sophomore Daniel Bethel kicked a 37-yard field goal to provide the winning margin for FHS.
With the glitz and glamour of Neyland Stadium behind them, the Admirals can turn their full attention to their 2018 season opener against Bradley Central. Farragut hosts the Bears Friday, Aug. 16, with opening kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.
“I know that they’re a good team and they run a three-man front on defense,” Carter said. “They’re really athletic.”
“We have a tough game coming up. We really do,” Courtney said. “We’ve been working to get ready for them all summer. They’re a very good football team.”
Farragut, which went 9-3 in 2017, edged the Bears 27-21 in overtime last year in Cleveland.
Meanwhile, Hardin Valley Academy will be the first area team to take the field. The Hawks will begin their 10th varsity season tonight (Aug. 16) when they host Oak Ridge in a Rivalry Thursday Game, which will be televised throughout the Knoxville Area. Hardin Valley will play its first game on its new turf field.
“We have a huge game,” said HVA coach Wes Jones, who has won 50 varsity games as the only football coach in school history. “Oak Ridge has a great team and they’re talented.
“It will be a big test because they have a lot of speed. This may come down to which team makes a big play early.”
The Wildcats edged the Hawks 21-20 last season at Blankenship Field. “Our concern is that we’re very young on the offensive line and they have a lot of their starters back on defense,” ORHS head coach Joe Gaddis said. “Wes always does a great job, and they have a great quarterback (senior Grayson Vaughn).”
“We’re ready to get going this year and we want to make it back to the playoffs,” senior running back and linebacker Nick Filipkowski said. “We have to focus and we have to finish games.
“We were 5-5 last year but we could’ve been 8-2.”
Hardin Valley edged South-Doyle in last week’s jamboree as junior Jacob Smith threw a touchdown pass to Hunter Doerfler.
Bearden, which went 6-5 in 2017, scored a defensive touchdown as junior defensive end Andrew Kregel recovered a Roadrunner fumble and rumbled 36 yards to the end zone to beat Austin-East in Neyland Stadium.
Bearden will host West High Friday night. “We’ve been working on West and that showed tonight,” BHS head coach Morgan Shinlever said. “The good thing about this was that it was at Neyland Stadium. I think that’s great because our kids all grew up following UT.”
“We’re excited and we know that we’re going to have to get effort from everybody, whether their sophomores or seniors,” said Bearden senior Caleb Wilkins, who punts and plays both running back and linebacker.
“We know that it’s going to be a tough season and nothing is going to be easy,” he added. “We’re looking forward to the season and we’re looking forward to playing against West.”