Eagle Nation flies to Oak Ridge for Quarterfinals

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Mark Pemberton
Eagles coach Mark Pemberton looks on as offense runs through plays during practice on Wednesday. (photo: Rhea Review)

“Battle of Undefeateds” Rhea County Golden Eagles (12-0) set to play Oak Ridge Wildcats (12-0) in State Quarterfinals

A battle between two of the state’s most storied programs will kickoff tonight at 7pm EST at Blankenship Field, 213 Broadway Ave, Oak Ridge, TN.  Oak Ridge currently dominates the series with a 6-0 record.

But there is a lot more on the line than bragging rights.  Not only will the winner advance, but they will also earn home field advantage in the semifinals.  That’s right folks.  With a win tonight, Rhea County will play the winner of South-Doyle and West game at Bill Horton Field.

Neither team has met their match this season, but both have come close.  Rhea County survived a second half rally earlier this season against District 6 rival Cookeville, while Oak Ridge struggled against Cleveland last week securing the 10-6 victory with a goal line stand with 33 seconds remaining.

After last week’s win over Cleveland, Oak Ridge coach Joe Gaddis told OakRidgeToday.com’s John Huotari, “Great teams find ways to win.  It wasn’t pretty on the offensive side, but defense was beautiful.”

And the Wildcats did struggle offensively.  The team, who steamrolled opponents all season, mustered only 7 first downs with 160 total offensive yards against the 6-6 Blue Raiders.

Tonight’s game will also feature a battle of wits between two of the best coaches in the state of Tennessee.  With over 28 years coaching Tennessee high school football, Eagle’s coach Mark Pemberton stresses, “Offense wins games – Defense wins championships.”

On the opposite sideline will be Oak Ridge coach Joe Gaddis who will run a spread-run style offense and 3-4 zone read defense.  Despite struggling with Cleveland last week, Pemberton says Gaddis will have his team ready to play tonight.  Gaddis coached Oak Ridge to a state championship in 1991.

The energy generated by the playoffs is contagious and Pemberton sees that energy coming alive in his team.

“If you can’t get excited to play these games, you’re not much of a competitor,” says Pemberton.

Chili before Football

Be sure to leave a little early and stop by Senator Ken Yager’s Annual Chili Supper & Silent Auction at Roane State Community College Student Lounge.  The event features chili with all the trimmings for just $5.00 – preschoolers free.

“This is an event that I look forward to every year since my service as County Executive,” said Senator Yager.  “This is just a fun family event.  Whether you have attended this event multiple times or have never attended, I want to extend a personal invitation to all citizens in our senatorial district to join us.  No speeches, just great chili and a good time.”

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