Going toe to toe… Hampton tangles with Class 5A Vikings in scrimmage

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2019

BRISTOL — With August well underway, there are only a couple more weeks before high school football kicks off in East Tennessee for the 2019 regular season.
One Carter county team, the Hampton Bulldogs, traveled to the Stone Castle in Bristol to take on the Tennessee High Vikings in an unofficial contest.
In a matchup that was, for the most part, to help the Bulldogs get ready for a turf field and an atmosphere like the one they will see in week one against Gatlinburg-Pittman, things began to get heated between the two teams.
Hampton being the away team started the scrimmage on defense.
The Bulldogs came out firing on all cylinders as the Vikings were only able to get three yards total on their first three plays.
But soon after Tennessee High was able to get things going after two consecutive plays that resulted in twenty-plus yards which were followed by a rushing touchdown from eight yards out.
After a change of possession, most of the defensive starters for the Bulldogs stayed on the field for their first offensive drive.
Going against a fresh Viking defense, Hampton’s first possession ended in three plays.
The three and out didn’t phase the Bulldog defense however as Hampton handed Tennessee High a three-play drive of their own sending the Hampton offensive unit out once again.
Hampton was able to find their bearings starting the drive with a twenty-seven-yard rush by Caleb Oaks.
Oaks followed that impressive run with another carry that gained thirteen yards taking the ball to the Viking thirty-yard line.
This was all Hampton could muster as the Bulldogs came away with a field goal.
The Bulldog defense seemed to finally be in a groove when Caleb McKinney met the Viking quarterback in the pocket for Hampton’s first sack of the game followed by a breakup by Gage Chambers on a pass that would’ve scored a touchdown.
The defensive stand ended a few plays later as the Tennessee High running back slipped away from two Hampton defenders for another score.
After another unlucky drive by the Bulldogs, Tennessee High gained possession once more on a drive that started with a bang when linebacker Oaks leveled the runner for a loss of seven yards on a sweep play.
This was followed by a major blow on the quarterback by defensive lineman Mackinley Kuhn. Only a couple plays later Hampton showed their hitting power yet again as a forced fumble resulted in a turnover.
While tempers had been flaring during the whole contest, things were turned up a notch when a carry by senior Matt Hughes for seven yards resulted in a minor altercation causing penalties to be issued to both teams.
Afterward, Hampton was able to advance when Isaiah Greenwell was able to pull in a beautiful pass by quarterback Conor Jones despite being heavily guarded.
That was where the drive would end as the Bulldogs came away empty-handed.
With the ball back in Bristol’s hands, the Bulldogs continued the fight forcing another short drive which was fueled by a Max Cash tipped screen pass and a tackle for a loss of four by Oaks.
Hampton was able to keep the momentum going on offense as they started their drive with a magnificent catch on the sideline by Jonah Jones which took the Bulldogs forty-two yards down the field.
Hughes continued the drive by taking the ball another eight yards and Dylan Moffit was able to cap the drive off with an eight-yard touchdown run.
This unofficial contest was put to a satisfying end for the Bulldogs when a couple plays into the Vikings final drive, a backward lateral was picked up by the Dogs’ Jones who carried it all the way to the end zone to what would be a close game if it were, in fact, an official game.
When asked about his team’s performance against a school that is three times the size of Hampton High School, head coach Michael Lunsford said, “I couldn’t be more proud of our effort. We played really well up front and blocked as hard as we could. “I thought we learned how to play hard and give maximum effort even when it wasn’t easy to.”
With Tennessee High being a 5A school and Hampton being a 1A school the odds were stacked against the Bulldogs.
When asked how this scrimmage will help them in the season, Lunsford elaborated, “A big thing is that we wanted to play on turf and experience an atmosphere like the one we’ll see week one against Gatlinburg-Pittman. “We did a great job adapting. When you play a bigger school like this, it shows your guys that we can compete. And that’s exactly what we did tonight. We competed very well against one of the bigger programs in Northeast Tennessee.”
Although some things still need to be worked on, the Hampton Bulldogs looked very sharp.
This scrimmage should help get this team prepared for their journey to Gatlinburg-Pittman High School during week one of the season.
This year’s Hampton team looks ready to show just how good Carter County high school football teams are.

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