Just two teams playing football on a Friday night in Monroe County are sure to fill seats.
But the Sweetwater Valley Collision High School Football Jamboree brought eight total programs to King Berrong Stadium on Aug. 16.
County teams Sweetwater, Tellico Plains and Sequoyah, as well as Loudon, Lenoir City, Meigs County, Polk County and McMinn Central, all competed in the preseason’s final tuneup on Friday.
The event also featured halftime competitions, including cheerleading tumble and jump, punt, pass, kick and 40-yard dash contests.
A missed extra point was the difference in the jamboree’s opening contest.
Dale Rinehart kept Tellico’s long opening drive alive with a first down run on fourth-and-three at the 46-yard line before eventually connecting with Gaige Fairbanks for a short goal line touchdown pass. The extra point was missed, putting the Bears’ lead at 6-0.
Loudon responded with a 12-yard rushing touchdown, converting the extra point to take a one-point advantage.
Tellico was forced to punt on its next drive, and the Redskins’ West Coast offense moved the ball efficiently down the field, running out the clock and eliminating the Bears’ chance to win the game.
In a battle of cats, a late rushing score for the Tigers was the difference against the Panthers.
A long Lenoir City drive was finally stopped short on fourth-and-three, but Meigs County was held scoreless as well on its ensuing drive, being forced to punt.
The Panthers completed a deep pass to set them up in scoring position before a quarterback sneak at the goal line punched the ball through for a touchdown, giving Lenoir City a 7-0 lead. The Tigers, though, struck back with a 56-yard rushing score to even the game at 7-7.
Meigs County recovered a Lenoir City fumble at the Panthers’ 36-yard line and took a 14-7 advantage with a seven-yard touchdown run, holding control of the game with just 33 seconds remaining.
The Tigers sealed the victory by grabbing an interception on the last play of the game.
The Chiefs and the Wildcats were unable to find any ultimate advantages in the third matchup of the evening.
Sequoyah scored first off of a River Jenkins passing touchdown to Justin Floyd, giving the Chiefs a 7-0 lead.
Polk County responded with a 22-yard touchdown run to tie the game, but that was all the scoring the two teams could muster in the one quarter of play.
The Wildcats recovered a Sequoyah fumble at the Chiefs’ 29-yard line, but weren’t able to capitalize with points before the clock expired.
The fourth quarter featured a defensive showdown that neither side was able to break free from.
Sweetwater punted on its first offensive possession, but the Wildcats’ defense forced the Chargers into a similar result. That was the recipe for the rest of the contest, as neither squad was able to make it into the end zone.
Sweetwater’s Ben Brackett attempted a 36-yard field goal in the waning moments of the contest, but it was no good, keeping the Wildcats off the scoreboard.
The Chargers saw their quarterback scramble on the final play of the game, their attempt to win in a last-second miracle, but the Sweetwater defense contained the play in order to end the contest, and the jamboree, with a tie.
The 2019 high school football season officially kicks off on Friday, Aug. 23. Sweetwater will host Meigs County at King Berrong Stadium, setting the stage for a showdown in which Wildcats head coach Mike Martin faces a team he previously coached before joining SHS.
Meanwhile, county rivals Sequoyah and Tellico Plains will play at SHS. The Bears are looking for revenge after falling to the Chiefs 41-13 last season.