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Not just big games ... These are HUGE

Dragons looking for first win; Mavs plan ‘big pregame’ while looking for region title

On Friday, Clinton returns from a bye week to travel to Campbell County, while Anderson County hosts East Hamilton for its final home game of the regular season.

Clinton returns from the off week for one of its last chances to get a win this season, facing the Campbell County Cougars in a conference game. This comes after the Dragons’ 24-6 loss to Fulton two weeks ago. Clinton is currently 0-7 for the season, with the closest game still being the 29-14 loss to Halls at the start of September.

Campbell County, meanwhile, has won three games this season, against Cocke County, Gibbs, and Seymour. It lost to Karns 41-39, and Fulton 33-26. The Cougars scored 13 points on Powell before losing 48-13. Currently, the Cougars are ranked 140th in the state, just above Fayetteville, and just beneath Moore County, while they’re ranked 28th in their division, just above Gibbs and just beneath Karns. In the greater Knoxville area, Campbell County is ranked 28th.

Clinton, meanwhile, sits at 175th in the state, just beneath Sevier County, while in their division, they’re ranked 34th, just above Sevier County. In the greater Knoxville area, Clinton ranked 37th, just beneath Sevier County.

Clinton has finished with an average of six points per game, while the Cougars have finished their games with an average of 24 points each.

Last year’s game against Campbell County was one of only two wins for the Dragons, with Clinton finishing the night 12-7 after Campbell County took an early lead in the first quarter. Whether they’ll be able to repeat that feat again this year will be anyone’s guess.

Darell Keith, the head coach for the Dragons, said they’re not taking the game lightly.

“I think it’ll be a good game, but by no means am I looking past it,” he said. “They’ve got a really competitive football team. I think we have a real chance of winning this game, but at the same time, we’re going to have to play. By no means is this going to be a ‘gimme’ game. It was a battle last year, but I think [Campbell County] has some vanity. They’ve won some games and we haven’t.”

Keith also spoke on the team’s record for the season so far and the mentality of the team going forward.

“We go into every game trying to win, and with the intention of winning,” Keith said. “It seems like every game for me this year has been the Super Bowl, but I think [the kids] have turned the corner. They’re starting to really believe, and I think they should have beat Fulton.

“We’re going to go in there and just play minute by minute, day by day, and second by second. We’re just trying to get better every play.”

Anderson County, meanwhile, hosts the East Hamilton Hurricanes for the Mavericks’ final home conference game.

The Hurricanes are one of the only opponents the Mavericks have faced that are coming into the game with a better record than themselves.

East Hamilton currently sits at 7-2 for the season, while Anderson County is at 6-2. Hamilton’s only losses have come from non-conference games, similar to Anderson County’s record.

In the case of the Hurricanes, they lost 27-24 to Red Bank, and 40-12 to Walker Valley.

East Hamilton will also be one of Anderson County’s closest games in terms of rankings, with Anderson County ranking sixth in its class, just below Marshall County, and East Hamilton ranking 14th, just behind Dekalb County.

In the statewide rankings, the two are much farther apart, with Anderson County sitting at 62nd and East Hamilton coming in at 112th.

Last year’s game between the two teams ended in an Anderson County victory when the Mavs walked away from the game 29-14 after a shaky first half.

The Mavericks entered the second half 15-14 before scoring two more touchdowns and shutting down multiple attempts by East Hamilton to even the score.

David Gillum, head coach for the Mavericks, stressed just how big this game is for the Anderson County team.

“It’s the biggest game for us so far,” he said. “The winner of this will win the region title and get home field throughout the playoffs, which is a big deal for us. We’re fighting for our fourth district championship in a row. We only had two in school history until the last four years, so it’s exciting.”

Speaking on East Hamilton, though, Gillum said the Mavs are expecting to be tested.

“They’re a good football team, and they have a good quarterback with a good arm,” he said. “They like to push the ball down the field, so they’re going to test our defense and our secondary and our discipline. Defensively, they’re probably going to test our [offensive line] and try to put more people into the box. They’re going to test how well we can block and move people around and test our discipline and how well we communicate to make sure we don’t miss assignments, but I think if we communicate well, we can dominate the line of scrimmage, and I feel good about our chances of being successful. We’re going to be playing a lot of man-to-man, and it’ll be a balancing act between taking shots down the field and playing that man-to-man and running the clock.”

Gillum also asked for a big turnout from the community, stressing how important the game is, and saying that the Mavs have something special planned.

“It should be a fun game, and a good game, but – yeah, it’s the biggest game of the year for us, and we need a big turnout and an electric atmosphere,” he said. “We have a special pregame intro planned, so we hope everyone comes out for that.”