Bulldogs to host Bledsoe County in round two

Published 8:19 am Wednesday, November 8, 2023

STAR CORRESPONDENT

In the second round of the TSSAA 2A playoffs, the Hampton Bulldogs offensive juggernaut will take on a defensive force in Bledsoe County on Friday night at JC Campbell Stadium.

The Bulldogs (9-2) have scored 441 points this season (40.9 average), while the Warriors have given up just 136 (12.4 average), so something will have to give. Not that the ‘Dogs are not solid defensively themselves, surrendering just 178 points (16.9 average) and Bledsoe can score pretty well with 294 points on the season (26.9 average).

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Each team has had two shutout wins this season with the Dogs having a 36-0 win over Happy Valley and a 55-0 victory over Unaka. For Bledsoe County, they blanked Sale County 27-0 and 28-0 over Oneida.

Bledsoe County also routed conference foe Polk County 35-6.

The Warriors (9-2) come off a 42-21 win over South Greene, who had to play without starting quarterback Jacob Susong who suffered a broken arm in the final regular season game with Hampton. The Bulldogs fell behind at the half against Polk County but once again had a strong second half in a 36-19 victory.

“The kids have to understand how big these games are,” Bulldogs head coach Michael Lunsford said. “We can’t afford to have a slow start against a team as good as Bledsoe County. When it means something to you, you play a little bit harder and that’s what we have to do.”

In the Warriors win over South Greene, quarterback Jonathan Thomas had two touchdown passes and RB Justin Melton had touchdown runs of 15 and 43 yards and had a scoring reception of 12 yards. Also contributing was RB Austin Rains, who rushed for 117 yards and had two scoring runs and WR Matthew Walker took an end around 25 yards for a score and had a TD catch of 5 yards.

In the ‘Dogs win over Polk, junior RB Dominique Burleson had a 214-yard rush game with a pair of scores and senior QB Dylan Trivett had a 100-yard passing game.

“Dom has played his you know what off this season,” Lunsford said. “He gives his best effort every game. It is going to be a challenge, South Greene never forced a punt against them. They are a very disciplined, well coached team and we have to take them very seriously. At this stage of the season, it takes everything you have to win.”

Game time is 7 pm.