By TREY WILLIAMS
What doesn’t kill you, they say, will make you stronger, and Daniel Boone’s football team is confident that it was strengthened by enduring a taxing non-conference schedule after a rash of key injuries.
The Trailblazers are still without exceptional running back Charlie Cole (arm), but Devon White continued to find his stride in his second game back from a thumb injury during Daniel Boone’s 28-21 victory at Morristown East on Friday.
White, a junior inside linebacker-running back, led the ‘Blazers (1-1, 2-4) with 11 tackles and carried the ball 10 times for 55 yards.
“He made a lot of open-field tackles against their really shifty quarterback,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “He’s just getting better and better for us and he’s kind of a calming factor over there for us on defense. But we had a lot of kids make plays. Cole Bishop, coming back off an injury, pressured the quarterback well. Eli Penix, another sophomore, really pressured the quarterback well.
“We’ve got a lot of areas to improve, but our kids took a step in the right direction.”
A number of players took a lot of positive steps at Morristown East. The ‘Blazers rushed for 296 yards. Brennan Blair ran for 141 yards, and quarterback Kaleb Worley (11 carries, 60 yards) and Joe Jones (4-50) contributed significantly to the ground game.
“We finally established the run game,” Jenkins said. “We had 296 yards on the ground and Brennan ran for 141 of those. (Blair) just hits the hole so hard and he’s got breakaway speed in the secondary. He’s not played a lot of running back. We usually had him at receiver and he’s our jet (sweep) guy.
“But with the injuries that we’ve had, we’ve put him there along with Devon and Joe. And Kaleb, too. Joe’s really the speedster. Brennan can hit it up inside and get outside. Devon is kind of more the power guy, and Kaleb’s a power guy, too.”
Worley also had a solid passing game, as did Jackson Jenkins. Worley was 5 of 7 passing for 96 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to Phillip Page while helping the Trailblazers build a 28-7 halftime lead. Jenkins was 4 of 6 for 50 yards.
“Both quarterbacks played well,” Jenkins said. “I thought that was the best game Kaleb has played.
“We know we can throw the ball if they can’t just play five in the box and have to honor us (running the ball) a little bit.”
Jenkins’ primary concern from the victory at East was a lackluster second half.
“We didn’t finish like we’d like to in the second half,” he said. “We had way too many snaps on defense. I believe we had 11 penalties the second half, nine on offense that kept us behind the sticks the whole half.
“We hadn’t been ahead much at halftime and we were up 28-7. And we come out and they hit a deep ball and made it, 28-14. And we had six holding penalties called the second half. We just kind of spun our wheels offensively.”
Jenkins isn’t certain Cole will return this season. He’s still in a cast, and rehab would follow its removal. A return for the regular season finale against Cherokee appears possible, if not likely, and Jenkins said coming back in time for a first-round playoff game might be more realistic.
“It’ll be a shot in the arm for us if he is,” Jenkins said. “But we can’t really control that. I know he’s wanting to play, but it’s been six weeks and he’s still in a cast.”
Boone will host Volunteer (0-3, 2-4) for homecoming on Friday. The Falcons have a versatile athlete in Peyton Derrick on offense and a gambling defense.
“It’s kind of feast or famine,” Jenkins said. “They may hit you in the backfield a couple of times, but if you can break the line of scrimmage, you’re in the secondary one on one. We’ve gotta do a good job getting a hat on a hat. We wanna be coming out of homecoming with a victory there.”
David Crockett was off last week. The Pioneers (2-0, 5-0) will visit Cherokee (3-0, 6-1) in a key Region 1-6A match up on Friday.