The two teams that traveled the farthest to Finley Stadium on Friday certainly showed no added fatigue from their long bus rides up Interstate 24.
Marion County and South Pittsburg each cruised to a pair of impressive shutout wins in the night's final four quarters, wrapping up the second of three days of action at the BlueCross BlueShield prep football jamboree.
The only two teams that traveled from outside of Hamilton County, both showcased a stingy defense and plenty of big-play potential.
Marion County defeated Chattanooga Christian School 21-0, and the Warriors followed that with a 7-0 win over Silverdale Baptist Academy. South Pittsburg was equally dominant on both sides of the ball, with the Pirates whipping Ooltewah 21-0 and Silverdale Baptist 14-0.
Friday's Final Scores
Hixson 14, Lookout Valley 0
Boyd Buchanan 14, Lookout Valley 0
Chattanooga Christian 21, Hixson 0
Boyd Buchanan 14, Ooltewah 0
Marion County 21, Chattanooga Christian 0
South Pittsburg 21, Ooltewah 0
Marion County 7, Silverdale Baptist 0
South Pittsburg 14, Silverdale Baptist 0
All four scores by the Warriors covered 50-plus yards, with long-distance touchdown sprints by senior Brody Leonard, sophomore Ashton Martin and freshman Zaiden Humphrey against CCS, then a 65-yard interception return by Sam Pickett against Silverdale Baptist.
"We've got a lot of playmakers on this team," Marion coach Tim Starkey said. "The ball is spread thin this year, but that's a good problem to have because a lot of good football teams do, and I believe we'll be one of those type teams this year."
South Pittsburg wasted no time taking charge against Ooltewah as senior linebacker Logan Hargis returned an interception 50 yards to score on the opening series. A pair of sophomores added insurance as running back JaMychal Buckner scored on a short run and Zach Green followed with a 15-yard scoop-and-score fumble return two plays later.
The Pirates showcased all-state quarterback Kamden Wellington in the nightcap as he threw for more than 100 yards, including two long completions to A.J. Wallace, and set up a touchdown with a 9-yard sideline-to-sideline scramble to the goal line.
"Our weapons around me make my job a whole lot easier," Wellington said. "Last year we had weapons, but this year we've got so many more. If you take away the pass game, we'll run it right at you, and if you take away the run, we can throw it all over the field. You can't stop all the guys we've got.
"Defensively, man, we've got some guys who just fly around to the ball, and losing in the playoffs last year has lit a fire under them. Their goal on that side of the ball is to not let anybody score on them in any game."
Fans also had an early glimpse at what could be TSSAA Division II-AA's East Region championship battle between Boyd Buchanan and CCS.
After setting a program record with 10 wins and a trip to the state semifinals last year, CCS dominated in a 21-0 victory over Hixson.
The Chargers showcased a lethal passing game on the first drive as Gavin Berger hit Jermaine Stinson with a 38-yard touchdown strike on the team's sixth play. Da'Rell Brown also had an impressive showing running with several big gains and a 12-yard touchdown behind a stout offensive line led by 6-foot-6, 320-pound star Darrius Talley. Brown also had a one-handed interception for a 30-yard interception return for a score.
"We played with good tempo offensively, and defensively we were physical with a good Hixson football team," CCS first-year coach Grant Reynolds said. "Gavin has built a really good relationship with his receivers, and they have good timing together.
"Da'Rell is a solid running back, Dre (Martin) has the speed on the edge, and Jermaine is a big receiver. But games are won up front with your offensive and defensive line. Talley and those guys up front are going to have to do good for us to be successful."
Boyd Buchanan looks the part headed into the season with a stout group of running backs led by Asher Keck and Jaylon Sanderfer, while Keion Brooks, Tavo Davis and David Green will add to the fire.
In their jamboree quarter against Ooltewah, the Buccaneers won 14-0, with their first scoring drive lasting 11 plays and Standerfer and Green providing tough runs to set up Keck's 1-yard score. Houston Hicks added a a 53-yard touchdown pass to Darrin Shannon, and a few moments later Timothy Jones, one of Boyd Buchanan's nine seniors, intercepted a pass.
"We have to mix it up and throw it well," said second-year Bucs coach Gary Rankin, who has won 17 state championships in his career. "But there is no doubt our running backs are the strength of our team. We have enough depth, but we are still a young team. There is still a lot of buzz, and we are looking forward to this season."
Hixson, in a 14-0 win over Lookout Valley, showcased a suffocating defense led by Adam Billingsley and Richard Burney, who combined for two sacks and a fumble recovery. Lawuan Hughley and KoKo Kendricks provided electricity with plays covering more than 30 yards, and Hughley had a 36-yard touchdown, going sideline to sideline after catching a pass from Luke Finch.
Boyd Buchanan's Brooks also had touchdown runs of 5 and 60 yards in a 14-0 win over Lookout Valley.