Once the Boyd-Buchanan soccer team put the "Hammer" down Thursday evening, they never looked back.
The Class A/AA 11th-ranked Buccaneers scored goals in each half, and played one of their most complete matches when it mattered most in defeating Arts & Sciences 2-0 to claim the Region 3-A/AA championship in a match played at Finley Stadium.
With the win, the Bucs (14-5-3) will host sixth-ranked Central Magnet (14-1-2), who lost a 3-2 decision to Signal Mountain in the Region 4-A/AA championship, Saturday in a sectional matchup. The top-ranked Eagles (15-0-2), who claimed their first-ever championship, will host the Patriots (11-7-2) Saturday at 3.
Boyd-Buchanan, who improved to 2-1 against CSAS on the year, started as out the more aggressive team Thursday. Known for their ability to score off set pieces, they threatened early when Zach Jenkins headed a shot that just slid over the goalpost. A similar play minutes later, off a John Beasley throw-in, led to a Jenkins header that traveled to Kenny Diaz, who knocked the ball in for a 1-0 edge.
"I was a little worried we would come out tired after how physically demanding the East Ridge game was," Boyd-Buchanan coach Dustin Walker said. "We really had to dig deep, but we wanted the region championship. We didn't have a letdown the entire game."
It was another set piece that led to the Bucs' final goal, midway through the second half -- and again, it involved the head of the 6-foot-5 Jenkins. A free kick by Brogan Baker was placed perfectly for the tall senior, who had a nice header that found its way to the back of the net.
CSAS coach David Poss was happy with how his team performed, as they find themselves back in area relevance for the first time in his six seasons. The 11 wins set a high-water mark for his tenure so far.
"I think we didn't have our best game in some areas that hurt us," Poss said. "Last time we played them, we were really clicking all over the field, but we missed some opportunities not just to score but play the ball better in the midfield. They controlled the midfield better than we did. We played well out of the back, but the midfield gave up a bit. We'd win three passes, but couldn't win a fourth.
"I keep stressing to the guys that this is the first time in my six seasons that we've had a winning record, so from that to a sectional is a huge accomplishment, and you're playing a team that is used to doing that."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.