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Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Rhea County's Ethan Davis carries the ball on a long run for a touchdown during an Oct. 22 game at Bradley Central.

Ethan Davis has done an incredible amount of damage to opponents in his first two seasons with Rhea County High School's football program.

Notorious for dismantling defenses with great speed and vision in the Golden Eagels' Wing-T based attack, Davis' route-running and hands produced the knockout blow in Friday's 48-42 road win over previously unbeaten Bradley Central.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound sophomore running back spoiled the Bears' senior night and their unbeaten record, earning Times Free Press Player of the Week honors in doing so. Davis tallied 463 all-purpose yards while his fifth touchdown provided the winning score on a 66-yard play action pass from Kaleb Martin with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter.

"I went out on a seam route up the middle and Kaleb just tossed the ball right over," Davis said. "I outraced the linebacker and then it was just me and the safety. I jumped right in front of the safety to catch it and he whiffed on the tackle. From there I just out ran the other defender to the end zone.

"I felt like that was going to be the winning score because I knew our defense was going to get a stop."

From rushing for over 300 and sometimes 400 yards in middle school games to now becoming a star underneath the Friday night lights, Davis is in an ideal spot.

In 19 career games he has already rushed for 2,204 yards and 23 scores on 300 carries. Meanwhile, on just 13 catches he has produced 300 yards and three more touchdowns.

Davis set new career-highs with 284 rushing yards and 95 receiving yards against Bradley Central, whose defense for most of the season had been stingy.

"Ethan is our go-to guy," Rhea County coach Mark Pemeberton said. "He has tremendous vision and quick feet and on top of that our guys up front are all very strong. Especially the right side of our line. If he can stay healthy there is a good chance he will be the school's all-time leading rusher."

With a signature win against a state-ranked 6A program to go along with the Region 4-5A title, the Golden Eagles (7-2, 4-0) have plenty of steam with the TSSAA playoffs approaching.

Davis knows the secret to success is not just what he can do with the ball, but what his teammates can do around him.

"Most of my success comes from our talented line. They continue to open huge holes and space for me to run through," said Davis, who has rushed for 1,230 yards on 172 carries this season. "Those guys do a lot of things really well. I am thankful for Justin Woody, Rahul Patel, Jaylee Elsea, Drew Fisher, Garrett Lemons and everyone that is throwing blocks for me."

Davis' top goal in his high school career is to bring a state championship back to Rhea County, which has two runner-up finishes in 1981 and 1985 but no gold ball trophies yet.

"To play for Rhea County means everything," Davis said. "This program is all about football and I am so happy and proud to be here. I am motivated to play in front of all of our fans and to help this program win a state championship."

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