A case can be made for Daniel Boone having played the toughest schedule of any football team in this corner of the state.
With four straight losses against that rugged slate, the Trailblazers will be a big underdog as they travel to Tipton Stadium to take on rival Science Hill. Kickoff is scheduled for tonight at 7:30.
Science Hill is 4-0 in Big Seven Conference play and 6-2 overall, with both losses coming against tough mid-state competition. Boone is 2-2 in the league and 3-5 overall, having lost to Class 4A state powers Elizabethton, Greeneville and Sullivan South — along with Dobyns-Bennett and Tennessee High.
But despite those setbacks, Carter said he expects plenty of resistance from the Trailblazers.
“Every time we play them it has been tough for us,” said Carter. “We had a really good team last year, and we only scored 17 points. They didn’t score, but it was hard to move the ball on them.
“I know we will be in a dogfight. They had D-B on the ropes, but that fluke pass at the end got in there.”
The losses haven’t come from bad practices, said Boone head coach Jeremy Jenkins.
“We had good practices the last couple of weeks, but we haven’t taken our practice game to the field,” said Jenkins. “We hope it will be different this week. We’ve had a great week of practice.”
One of the worst losses for Boone was against Greeneville, but Carter said his team can’t put much stock in the 61-7 decision a couple of weeks ago.
“It kind of snowballed on them,” said Carter. “There were two punt returns and two interception returns, and before you know it they were out of the game. So you can’t go on that game.
“I just think they will be ready for us. As banged up as we’ve been, I think it will be a tough game.”
Health is starting to get back on Science Hill’s side. Quarterback Malik McGue returned last week, and key defensive player Gad Nagba is expected to be back at linebacker tonight.
Nagba could be particularly important as Boone will undoubtedly try to control the clock.
“They aren’t grinding as much, but it will still be Boone and still the same stuff,” said Carter. “(Jenkins) is still trying to control the clock. He’s one of the best guys around at controlling the clock. They know what to do to move the chains.”
Carter said his team needs a good performance after a pair of easy wins over Sullivan Central and Volunteer where the Hilltoppers didn’t really play complete games.
“We do need to have a good game and get our rhythm back,” said Carter. “We need to get a rhythm going on offense.”
Such a rhythm could be a scary thing for Boone because of Science Hill’s talent.
“They’ve got great athletes at every position,” said Jenkins. “When you think about Science Hill, that’s what you think of.
“But the key to them is their offensive line. Statistics don’t lie, and they’re the No. 1 rushing team in the conference (273 yards per game). They like to play physical up front.”
The Hilltoppers boast the top two rushers in the league with McGue (696 yards) and Chance Pierce (665 yards).
Boone counters with running back Josh Bacon (601 total yards) and quarterback Gabe Sanders (774 yards passing).
“Gabe has really gotten better for us as the year has gone along,” said Jenkins.
Science Hill will play Dobyns-Bennett for the Big Seven title next week regardless of the outcome of this game. However, Boone knows its playoff fate is a little different.
“We know we have to win out to get into the playoffs,” said Jenkins. “For us to have a chance to play in November, we’ve got to come away with a win (tonight).”