Tellico Plains has been dealing with injury problems for several months.
On Friday, the lack of depth caught up to the Bears, as Marion County earned a 44-32 win at Tellico Plains. The Bears notched a few touchdowns late in the game, but Marion County’s lead was too much to overcome.
“I think we did a very excellent job of competing,” Tellico Plains head coach Jon Rechtorovic said. “We get down, adversity, the injury bug … we just keep plugging along and throwing bodies in there. People were doing their job when they got called on.”
Tellico’s starting quarterback earlier in the season was senior veteran Dale Rinehart, a do-it-all, physical runner.
After Rinehart was knocked out several games into the year, sophomore Reid Shaw took over, but he has also been hampered by an injury.
“At some point, we are going to get back healthy. It might not be this year, but we are going to get back healthy,” Rechtorovic said. “We are just getting stronger for it. Adversity just makes it stronger if it doesn’t kill you, and these kids aren’t letting it kill them.”
The Bears’ offense was not the primary concern on Friday, however, as Marion County rushed for more than 300 yards and only threw two passes.
The visitors jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 26-yard touchdown pass, which was their only completion.
Tellico Plains responded with a scoring drive to start the second quarter. Shaw completed an 82-yard pass to wide receiver Major Carter, who led the team with 101 receiving yards. The drive was capped off by a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Shaw, but the extra point was blocked.
“It was a good throw, good catch. It was Major’s number and Reid made the pass,” Rechtorovic said. “That’s all we expect. When it’s their turn to make a play, make a play.”
Marion County tacked on two more touchdowns to end the first half, with Tellico scoring on a 21-yard touchdown run from Levi Roberts in between the visitor’s scores.
The third quarter did not go Tellico’s way, as Marion County scored on a pair of touchdown runs. It added another to open the fourth quarter. Roberts scored his second touchdown of the night late in the third quarter, but it was not enough to keep the Bears within striking distance.
“We got some young kids playing positions that they probably shouldn’t be playing.” Rechtorovic said. “They are getting out there and doing the best that they can, doing what they are taught to do for the most part. They’re playing hard. That’s all I can ask.
“As long as they keep playing hard, we’re going to get this thing right eventually.”
Tellico Plains ended the game with something to build on, as freshman quarterback Landon Hollinghead ran for a 70-yard touchdown and threw a 23-yard score to Marshall Dukes.
“It’s always good to find somebody to step up and do what we expect them to do when their number is called,” Rechtorovic said. “I expect all of our kids, I don’t care who it is, to step up and make plays when it’s their turn.”
The Bears travel to county rival Sweetwater on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re just going to keep plugging along,” Rechtorovic said. “We are going to take every opportunity to get better. That’s all I can ask from them.
“If things were a different way and the injury bug didn’t jump all over us, I think we’d be competing right up there with everybody.”