There was one key difference between Tellico Plains’ game on Friday, Sept. 13, and the first three games of the season, according to head coach Jon Rechtorovic.
It all came down to discipline. The Bears were lacking in that department on Friday, as Copper Basin earned a 20-8 road victory, sending Tellico Plains to 2-2 on the season.
“We have to be more disciplined in things that we do,” Rechtorovic said. “I told them from the very beginning that we don’t have the numbers to out-athlete folks. We have to be more disciplined than everybody.
“In this game, we didn’t do that. In the first three games, we were a pretty disciplined team. This week, we got away from some of our discipline and the results show.”
Copper Basin jumped in front with a touchdown early in the second quarter. Less than one minute later, the game would go into a lightning delay — lasting slightly more than an hour.
Tellico Plains followed the delay with a promising drive into Copper Basin territory, but the possession stalled, ending with a 2-yard rush on fourth-and-three. Things spiraled downhill at the end of the first half, as Copper Basin notched a touchdown on a Hail Mary from near midfield to take a 12-0 lead into the break.
Tellico Plains’ starting quarterback Dale Rinehart was knocked out of the game after taking a hit early in the second half. Rinehart, the core component of the Bears’ offense, was 5-of-11 passing for 43 yards. He also rushed for 62 yards on seven carries.
“That was a big blow. It was 12-0, we were on a drive, you know he’s a big part of our team offensively and defensively,” Rechtorovic said. “Like I told the kids, we have to be able to adapt. That’s why we practice. Everybody gets reps. People gotta be ready to step up … even when it hurts, we got to fight and continue.”
Sophomore Reid Shaw stepped up at the quarterback position following Rinehart’s injury.
Shaw was 2-of-3 passing for 32 yards. He completed a 14-yard pass down the sideline to fellow sophomore Major Carter with 10 seconds left in the game to notch Tellico’s only touchdown of the night.
Carter led the Bears at the receiver position with four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. Senior Levi Roberts added three receptions for 32 yards. Shaw carried the ball six times for 19 yards.
“I’m proud of our kids. We lost a big key to our offense and we still were able to drive down the field a couple times and ended up punching one in,” Rechtorovic said. “That proves that overcoming adversity … we are still gonna fight and get after every play.”
Sophomore linebacker Mikiah Jenkins led the Tellico Plains defense with six tackles, including a sack. Junior Chase Hunt added four tackles and a sack from the defensive end position.
Junior defensive back Marshall Dukes picked off Copper Basin’s quarterback in the first half, but the ensuing possession ended in a punt. Shaw racked up five tackles and recovered a fumble early in the second half.
“We are going to keep fighting to the very end. I am not ever going to admit to defeat,” Rechtorovic said. “We are going to keep fighting. That’s why we went for the onside kick. We are going to keep scrapping until the very end.”
Tellico Plains travels to Polk County for a region matchup next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Wildcats are 0-4 on the season, having dropped games to Copper Basin, Silverdale Academy, Marion County and McMinn Central.
Tellico lost 50-22 to Polk County last season.