published Monday, June 9th, 2014

All-star linemen hoping for notice

By David Jenkins

While steamrolling the Georgia all-stars for 409 rushing yards in Saturday’s 45-7 win, the Tennessee squad rotated its only six offensive linemen with resounding success.

Sunday, in the aftermath of Tennessee’s biggest offensive output ever, winning head coach Tracy Malone of East Ridge and his offensive line coach, Caleb Collier of Boyd-Buchanan, were shaking their heads that none of the six have anything resembling an offer to play collegiately.

“All week long, we felt our offensive line was good,” Malone said after the game. “The success we had started there. I didn’t expect to score 45 points and I didn’t expect to win this big, but I did expect us to move the football.”

The core of his line – Tyner center Arthur Coefield and guards Robert McMahan of Cleveland and Micah Pressley of Signal Mountain – were in on virtually every play. Tackles Tristan Dawson of Bledsoe County, Colton Rogers of Silverdale and Charles Franklin of Hixson rotated. All they did was allow Tennessee to pile up 444 yards of total offense.

“They were a good bunch of guys,” Collier said. “We played a smart, physical game, plus they were motivated. I told them if they got 400 yards I would feed them.”

Malone made it clear that he would go to war with any of them, even if he were coaching at a higher level.

“Not only can they play, they’re smart on the field and were excellent students,” Malone said. “Right now, McMahan is going to ETSU as a student, but I have a feeling that if somebody would ask any of them just to walk on, they would jump at it.”

It didn’t hurt that Tennessee had a stable of running backs that made the most of the chances their line provided. Hixson’s Isiah Robinson, who is headed for the fledgling program at Shorter this fall, was the game MVP with 103 yards rushing on just six carries.

“We weren’t out to prove anything except that we were the best,” a joyous Robinson said after accepting his plaque. “I had a good line, I had good coaches. I love them all.”

McMinn Central’s Denzel Boyd was named Tennessee MVP with a similar night – 90 yards on nine carries, while Central’s Terry Tiller added 69 rushing yards on just three attempts and Ooltewah’s Mike Williams had a 31-yard TD on an end-around that was his only carry.

Even more remarkable is that the game was just 7-7 at the half.

“I have to be honest,” Malone said. “I think we were able to wear them down.”

Scoring for Tennessee were Bradley’s Dee Crisp on a 6-yard pass from Boyd-Buchanan’s Jim Cardwell, Williams on his 31-yard end around, Brainerd quarterback Sam Caffey on a 5-yard keeper, Tiller on an 11-yard run, Boyd on a 10-yard run and Howard’s Terrence Brooks on a 6-yard run. The last two scores came following Georgia fumbles.

East Ridge kicker Tad Whitaker made the game’s record book with six PATs to go with a 36-yard field goal.

Noah Cooper of Ridgeland had Georgia’s only score on a 1-yard run in the second quarter, while Gordon Central’s Jacob Mitchell (two sacks, one forced fumble) earned team MVP honors. Also drawing notice was punter Jonathan Sanchez of Southeast Whitfield, who averaged 43.3 yards per kick, including a 59-yarder that was downed on the 1.

The game was played at Boyd-Buchanan for the first time. The annual Tennessee-Georgia basketball game is scheduled for Tuesday at Notre Dame.

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