published Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Hixson Wildcats end drought with shutout of Red Bank Lions

Don't be surprised if Hixson's celebration is still ongoing.

The Wildcats' seniors were in the third grade the last time Hixson beat Red Bank in high school football at Hixson. That is, until Friday night.

And it was senior night, and those 22 seniors treated their home crowd to a 23-0 victory over the Lions.

Not to be lost in the hoopla is that it was a District 6-AA game. Hixson (6-2) leads the district standings at 4-0 and controls its own destiny with league road games remaining at Central and Brainerd.

"These seniors said to me they wanted to change the perception they believed Hixson had been given," coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "Over the years they wanted to change that."

Friday's performance went a long way in punctuating what they said. Senior Austin Gilkey, an undersized defensive lineman and reserve running back who had five tackles before chipping in four carries for 35 yards late in the game, was among the joyous on the field afterward.

"I actually think I'm starting to get used to winning, unlike the past," Gilkey said. "This is one of those nights I've been waiting on for a long time. We all had fun. It wasn't just me. I asked a couple of seniors at halftime if they were having fun, too. This is what we've been working for."

Hixson had no passing yards -- two of Gil Brown's three attempts were dropped and the other underthrown -- but Kedrick Bradley and Isaiah Robinson made up for it on the ground. Bradley ran 15 times for 122 yards and Robinson carried 14 times for 69 yards. Each had a touchdown.

"Our bread and butter are those two horses in the backfield," Fitzgerald said.

Brown also had a scoring run, and his 56-yard punt that was downed on the 3-yard line led to a safety when Quinton Russell made a tackle in the end zone on the next play with 9:43 to go in the third quarter.

Quarterback Michael Robinson was the offensive leader for Red Bank (2-6, 2-2) with 68 rushing yards and 34 passing. His 16-yard pass to Malik Davis in the second quarter and his 16-yard run in the third were the Lions' longest plays.

Adding to the build-up for the game, Hixson athletic director Brian Bray said a special presentation was made during a pep rally to freshman Austin Clark, a football-team member with Down syndrome and a Florida fan. Footage of him running for a touchdown in the jamboree in August was sent to the University of Florida, and the athletic department there sent him a game-used jersey and a mini helmet signed by coach Will Muschamp.

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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