Celebrating ‘heart’

Anderson County Head Football Coach Davey Gillum received the “Gatorade Bath” following the overtime win against the Elizabethton Fightin’ Cyclones Friday night. The Mavs trailed 21-7 to start the second half, but fought back to tie the game before sealing the deal in extra play. In the grand scheme of the Anderson County High School football season, losing Friday night would not have spelled doom. But the win exacted a bit of revenge for the Mavs, who were eliminated in the playoffs by the Cyclones in 2021. And it showed Anderson County fans the true heart of its team.

Mavs ‘fought, fought, fought’

Anderson County’s defense came up big when the game was on the line against Elizabethton

Anderson County’s Zeke West takes the hit and the first down yardage (17 yards to be exact) after hauling in a pass from ACHS quarterback Walker Martinez Friday night against Elizabethton. - Zack Williams
A dramatic victory helped Anderson County High School exact a little revenge and keep its perfect record intact.

But it didn’t come easily for the Mavericks football team, which had to overcome a large halftime deficit to notch a 35-34 overtime victory over Elizabethton Friday night at ACHS.

“I’m proud of the way we fought tonight,” Anderson County Coach Davey Gillum said. “As a high school coach, you talk about life and we fought, fought, fought.

“Our kids took the opportunities to make the plays. They made the plays they had to make.

“They found a way to win and they found a way to make the plays when they needed to.”

On a night of big plays for the Mavericks, who are 6-0 this season after avenging last year’s 45-7 second-round playoff loss to Elizabethton, it was two big defensive plays late that gave ACHS the chance to win.

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Chattanooga Central has no answer to Dragon attack

Dragons receiver Lucas Kendall (2) reels in his first of three receiving touchdowns of the evening in the Dragons’ 51-21 victory over the visiting Purple Pounders. Kendall had receiving touchdowns of 44, 20, and 5 yards and a total of 119 yards receiving for the night. - Tony Cox
The Clinton Dragons raced out to a 31-0 lead Friday and went on to drub visiting Chattanooga Central 51-21 in a non-region game.

Quarterback Joshuah Keith went 23-for-32 through the air for 258 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for another TD as the Dragons (4-2) avenged last year’s 20-15 loss at Chattanooga Central and bounced back from a loss to Powell on Sept. 16.

Lucas Kendall caught three of Keith’s touchdown passes and finished with four catches for 119 yards. Jeremiah Lee nabbed six catches for 38 yards and a touchdown, and Teegan Bolinger returned a fumble for a TD for Clinton’s final score. Jawan Goins led the Dragon ground game with 11 rushes for 74 yards and a TD, and Brandon Hollifield added 35 yards and a TD on five carries.

The mercy rule was employed twice as Clinton put up two second-half leads of at least 30 points. Chattanooga Central fell to 3-3 with the loss.

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Better and better by leaps and bounds

Clinton sophomore Ellie Murrell gets the ball past Oak Ridge defenders Lily Yassu and Maggie Wilson last Thursday night. The Lady Dragons played inspired volleyball against the Lady ’Cats.

Lady Mavs secure No. 2 seed in District 4-AA tournament

Anderson County will be the No. 2 seed in the coming District 4-AA volleyball tournament.

But the Lady Mavericks aren’t closing the season with easy matches.

They were set to host Bearden and West High Tuesday and will close the season at home with matches against Farragut and Oliver Springs Thursday on Senior Night.

There, ACHS will honor its lone senior, Anna Kay Smith.

“We’re not closing out the season by playing a bunch of cupcakes,” said Lady Mavs Coach Jayme Smith. “We want to play good teams, teams that will make us better for the district tournament.

“We want to play the top teams and we have a lower win-loss record, but you get better when you play the good teams.”

On Thursday, Anderson County (22-15, 6-2 in the district) will look to avenge a five-set loss to the Lady Admirals earlier this season.

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’Cats have Region 3-5A showdown

Oak Ridge’s Blake Steed, one of the uber-talented defenders on the Wildcat roster, was injured in the team’s Sept. 16 game against Lenoir City, a big loss for the ’Cats as they face Region 3-5A powerhouse Powell this week. - Chad Steed Photography
Oak Ridge High School’s football team has been bruised and battered this season.

Through the first five games of the 2022 campaign, the Wildcats have been ravaged by injuries.

Oak Ridge (3-2 overall, 2-0 in Region 3-5A) had its open date in Week 6, and first-year head Coach Scott Cummings is hoping that the bye was what his team needed to heal and prepare for the second half of the season.

“We’ve got to get well and (Sept. 16) things actually got worse,” Cummings said. “We lost both our starting center (Jermaine Blair) and our starting quarterback (Peyton Sharpe). We hope that we can get those guys back.

“Against Lenoir City, we lost Blake Steed, our inside linebacker, for the season. But the good thing is Connor Cummings is looking to be released and hopefully, Elijah Rogers will be released.”

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Lady Wildcats hold off much-improved CHS squad

Oak Ridge’s Lily Yassu sets up before a Clinton serve Thursday night when the two schools met for a key Region 3-AAA volleyball match. - Ken Leinart
Clinton High School volleyball Coach Lorri Johnson saw her team drop a tough match Thursday night.

But she wasn’t discouraged.

“We’re getting better and we were digging balls all over the place,” Johnson said after the Lady Dragons fell to Oak Ridge 25-15, 20-25, 26-24, 27-25 before a spirited crowd at Clinton High School’s Don Lockard Gymnasium. “Our kids were playing their hearts out.”

After the Lady Wildcats cruised in the opening set, Clinton found some momentum and had leads in each of the final three games.

Oak Ridge first-year Coach Audrey Sherles said she knew her team was in a tough battle against the young and up-and-coming Lady Dragons. The Lady Wildcats swept the season series against Clinton (21-11 overall, 9-3 in District 3-AAA).

“It was a tough game when we played them the first time and they were good,” Sherles said. “But they’ve gotten better.

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The highest of highs and the lowest of lows

Over the past few games, the Oak Ridge High School girls soccer team has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

The low point came Thursday night when the Lady Wildcats were routed by Knoxville Central, 8-1, at Dan Y. Boring Stadium in Fountain City.

That loss came after Oak Ridge notched a 2-0 victory over Christian Academy of Knoxville on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Before defeating the Lady Warriors, the Lady Wildcats defeated defending District 3-AAA tournament champion Powell 3-1 on Thursday, Sept. 15.

“Seven days after we played our best game of the season, we played our worst game of the year,” Oak Ridge Coach Donnie Green said. “(Lady Bobcats’ coach) Bill (Mize) told me that was the best game that his team had played in HIGHEST several years.

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Emma Leander’s second half output helps Lady Mavs to title

A pair of second-half goals by Emma Leander netted Anderson County High School’s girls soccer team the 2022 District 5-AA regular-season title.

Leander’s markers lifted the Lady Mavericks to a 2-0 victory over Kingston on Tuesday, Sept. 20, in the regular-season district finale for both schools.

Anderson County (6-6 overall, 3-0 in the district) will host No. 4 seed Clinton in the coming district tournament semifinals.

The Lady Mavericks, however, struggled to find the back of the net over the first 40 minutes of the match as they were locked in a 0-0 tie with the Lady Yellow Jackets.

“I told them at halftime that if they continued to play like they were playing, then we’d be traveling when we play in the district tournament,” ACHS Coach Chris Curtin said.

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Anderson County cross country competes in ‘home’ meet

Anderson County’s Ava Moody was the 4th place finisher in Thursday nights Norris Dam Invitational 5,000 meter race. Moody posted a season best time of 19:30.00. - Tony Cox
Some familiar surroundings helped athletes on the Anderson County High School cross country teams post some stellar times. The Mavericks and Lady Mavericks competed at the race course at Norris Dam, their adopted home course.

“It’s definitely our home course,” ACHS Coach Derek Wallace said after his teams competed Thursday. “We work out there three times a week, and the kids take a whole lot of pride in running there.

“It was a really good day.”

The Lady Mavericks had two runners complete the course in less than 20 minutes. Ava Moody was Anderson County’s top finisher in the girls race as she crossed the finish line in 19 minutes, 30 seconds. Kaitlyn Fisher finished the race in 19:38. Megan Haire posted a time of 21:33. Marley Caldwell finished in 21:41.

Emily Boring recorded a time 23:18. Sydney Day crossed the finish line in 24:38 and Morgan Lindsey completed the race course in 24:42.

In the boys race, Conner Chandler was the top finisher for Anderson County as he crossed the finish line in under 18 minutes, posting a time of 17 minutes, 57 seconds. Vance Laster posted a time of 18:03. Ethan Bolton completed the course in 19:30.

Jaxon Taylor finished in 19:52. Toby Day posted a time of 21:42. Michael Mattson crossed the line in 22:24 and Johnathan Arsenault finished in 23:04.

Coker has high expectations this swim season

In what seems his natural habitat, Anderson County High School’s Avery Coker practices at the University of Tennessee Aquatic Center as the 2022-2023 swim season prepares to get underway. Coker is also a member of the USA Swimming and competed other swimmers as old as 22 while participating in the 15-and-ups class.
Like all swimmers at Anderson County High School, Avery Coker is preparing for the upcoming high school season.

But his expectations and goals may be loftier than most of his teammates.

The Mavericks and Lady Mavericks began practicing last week and Coker is coming off an abbreviated break after a big summer with USA Swimming, a year-round program. He made some monumental accomplishments in a relatively short time last.

Coker, a sophomore at ACHS, celebrated his 15th birthday in July. After his birthday he moved up in age class. As a swimmer in the 15-and-over age class, Coker began swimming against college swimmers --- and not just swimming --- but competing and winning.

“He went to Senior Zones in West Virginia and he had a tremendous meet,” said ACHS coach Stephanie Coker, who is also Avery’s mother.

“He was only seeded to make the finals in one event and he made it to the finals in almost every event he swam.

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Playoff bound: CAK will host Norris Senators Thursday

Norris Middle School’s football team closed out the 2022 regular season on a winning note Thursday night. The Senators notched their fifth victory of the campaign as they shut out Clinton 34-0. Norris now turns its attention to the postseason as it prepares for Christian Academy of Knoxville in the opening round of the playoffs.

The Senators and Warriors will tangle for the second time in 2022. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Norris (5-3) will head to West Knoxville with hopes of avenging a regular-season loss to CAK.

“We lost to them by six, I think, the first time and we look forward to the chance to go over there and get that one back,” Norris coach Richie Noe said. “We’ve done it before.”

Noe and the Senators couldn’t have scripted a better ending to the regular season.

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Lady Dragons are still working for wins despite injuries

Clinton High School girls soccer coach Suzanne Stout knew that she had a rebuilding project with the Lady Dragons in 2022.

It’s been rough as Clinton (3-5-1, 0-3 in District 5-AA) but the coach has hopes that the team can pick up some late wins as the regular season enters its home stretch.

“We have a young and inexperienced team and things got tougher because we had some injuries,” Stout said. “But our girls are working hard and we have some games left and I think four of those are winnable games and we can have a winning season.”

In their last match, the Lady Dragons dropped a 9-0 decision against Kingston on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Clinton will be the No. 4 seed in the district tournament and it will have a rematch against crosstown rival and regular-season champion Anderson County.

Before the District 5-AA Tournament, the Lady Dragons have regular-season non-league games against J. Frank White, South-Doyle, Fulton and Lenoir City.

“Some of those games are winnable games but the Lenoir City game will be tough,” Stout said.