There are a number of teams in Rhea County’s storied gridiron history that immediately instill feelings of anger, frustration, and angst when their name is heard by the Eagle faithful.
Teams such as the Cleveland Blue Raiders, the Bradley Central Bears, the Ooltewah Owls, and that one team from the Knoxville area that starts with an “M” that I dare not mention bring a heightened sense of rivalry when it is that team Rhea County suits up against.
However, there is one team that the Eagle faithful only have one major dealing with that brings that sense of bad memories: the Rebels of Knoxville West.
Riding into Evensville on a chilly November night in 2014 with a 12-1 record, the Rebels handed the Eagles their only loss of the season, ending what was one of the best seasons in Rhea County history at 13-1.
The Rebels would go on to win the state title against the Hillsboro Burros.
While neither team is the same team that took the field that fateful night, the West head coach, Scott Cummings, having moved to Cleveland and the only players left who were present in that last meeting entering their final season of high school football, it is still an important matchup.
The Rebels enter this Friday’s matchup with a 6-4 mark on the season and a third place finish in Region 3-5A to boot. The Eagles sport a 5-5 record and a runner-up finish in Region 4-5A.
Let’s take a look at the Rebels:
Knoxville West High School
Players to Watch Out For:
Zach Stokes (#1, defensive tackle, senior)
Drake Peer (#8, quarterback, senior)
Demarcus Nelson (#3, safety, junior)
Aaron Worthington (#20, defensive back, sophomore)
Jose Marquez (#32, corner, senior)
Jacob Scruggs (#50, offensive line, sophomore)
Game Breakdown: Knoxville West has not been known for scoring a ton of points this season, but they also haven’t given up many either. It will take Rhea County having a solid night on the ground and a tough defensive effort to beat the Rebels in Evensville.
“Survive and Advance” is the name of the game this time of year, and I believe the Eagles do just that and move on to Round 2 for the 5th straight year under Coach Pemberton.
Brian’s Pick: Eagles 28, West 21
Other Games of note:
Soddy-Daisy @ Oak Ridge
-Victor faces the winner of West/Rhea; Brian’s pick Oak Ridge 28, Soddy-Daisy 27
Lenoir City @ Fulton
-Winner faces Catholic/Campbell winner; Brian’s pick: Fulton 35, Lenoir City 24
Campbell County @ Knoxville Catholic
Brian’s pick: Catholic 42, Campbell County 21