On to the next one… Bulldogs advance to state quarterfinal after smackdown of Rockwood

Published 11:20 pm Monday, November 15, 2021

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In round two of the TSSAA state playoffs, the Region 1, 2-A Hampton Bulldogs traveled to Rockwood High School for a business trip, defeating the Tigers in a lopsided affair, 47-18.

This week brings a brand new challenge to the table as the Bulldogs will make another three-hour trip to take on the Oneida Indians in the state quarterfinal round, a team that Hampton has become very familiar with over the past few years.

This Friday will be the third time in three years that the Indians and the Bulldogs will face off with the start of the trilogy coming in the second round of the 2019 TSSAA 2-A state playoffs, a game where Oneida bested the Bulldogs in a heartbreaker, 14-12.

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The next installment of the series comes one year later in the first round of the 2020 TSSAA state playoffs, a contest in which the Bulldogs exacted their revenge against the Indians winning by a final of 28-14.

This season is sure not to be the last time the two teams square off against one another, but it will be the biggest matchup between the two as this contest between the two determines who will get a chance to play in the semifinal round of this year’s state playoffs.

With the matchup between the Indians and Bulldogs being a familiar one, it means a lot for head coach Michael Lunsford to square off against this team again in such a pivotal part of the postseason. “At this point, if you are still playing football around Thanksgiving, you’re playing good football. We are excited for another opportunity and hope to continue being able to play.”

And while the state quarterfinals are not new to the Bulldogs, Lunsford explained the impact this game has on his team with this year being the first time Hampton has made it past the first two rounds of the postseason since 2015.

“This is only the seventh team out of Hampton to play in the state quarterfinals, so it means a lot to our kids, the fans, and the whole program in general. If we are able to keep rolling, we will be the fifth-ever team to make it to the state semifinals so that is something these guys are looking forward to each day,” Lunsford continued.

With last week’s contest for the Bulldogs being a similar drive as this Friday’s matchup, Lunsford said, “I was proud of our guys last week. They were professional and handled it like the business trip that it was. Last week was a good prep for another road trip and hopefully, our guys can stay focused and be just as mature as last Friday.”

As the playoffs progress, the talent teams match up against increases each time and this is no different for the Bulldogs. Lunsford explained, “Being one of the final eight teams in 2-A in the state, you’re not going to play any bad teams from this point on. Everyone left is a good team and having to travel to Oneida and being able to cross your T’s and dot your I’s helps going forward.”

The postseason saga between the Oneida Indians and the Hampton Bulldogs is surely not done, but another chapter will be written on Friday night as the Bulldogs take on the Indians at Oneida High School in Oneida at 7 p.m.