“Home Dog” fits these Bulldogs just fine

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023

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By Ron Marvel

Star Correspondent

You could get a real sense from the Bulldog faithful Friday night that they had just enough hearing just how good the Bledsoe County Warriors were. The Hampton Bulldogs responded with a 36-31 come-from-behind win in the second round of the TSSAA Playoffs. In doing so, they sent a message to the remaining 2A teams in Tennessee that they would not be an easy out.

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Bulldog Dylan Trivett displayed near herculean heroics Friday, rallying his team from a 10-point deficit. He also had an interception with just seconds remaining to close the door on any Warrior rally. In Hampton’s final drive, he converted two third downs on QB keepers, including a 17-yard scamper where he broke several tackles; perhaps more surprising was how the Bulldogs, who have not passed much this year, displayed a passing game that looked poised and precise. When asked, Trivett quickly acknowledged what a team effort Friday night was: “I thank the Lord for this opportunity. I also thank my O-line and our receivers. Everybody did their jobs tonight,” Trivett shared. Bulldogs Head Coach Micheal Lunsford acknowledged the character his team showed in the win; “they are so resilient they have showed their ability to overcome all year. In the first game of the year, we got beat by Pigeon Forge and we never wavered. I’m so proud of them tonight,” Lunsford added.

Now the Bulldogs turn their attention to a 12-0 York Institute team that is averaging nearly 290 yards rushing per game. They are a team that has its own aspirations of a State Championship after falling in the sub-state game last year to eventual State Champions Tyner Academy. They are led by dual-threat QB Myles Leffew, who is averaging over 100 yards rushing per game and has scored 18 touchdowns. He is a player who may be even more impressive on the defensive side of the ball. “They are athletic and quick; number five (Leffew) is as good as I have seen. He reminds me of Mark Byrd on offense and Connor Jones on defense, just an overall great player,” Coach Lunsford said. Beyond Leffew, the Dragons have a quick, twitchy tailback in Riylin Miller, who has 14 TDs of his own. This is a football team that rushed for 433 yards in their first playoff game against Eagleton and had 280 rushing yards last week against a good Oneida team. Defensively, the Bulldogs will have to limit the splash plays of York Institute if they are going to have success. “Contain will mean everything; we can’t lose the edge and be sound tacklers; they have a lot of playmakers and do a great job getting the ball in their hands,” Lunsford explained. This is a Dragon team that has a lot of looks offensively, including the jet sweep.

By most media sources, this York Institute team could be considered a favorite over the Bulldogs, but Hampton is a team that will embrace that role. “I guess we are just the underdogs, but when their backs are against the wall, they scratch and fight,” Lunsford replied. Lunsford is confident that, once again, his team will take on this challenge. “I asked them last week how much skin are you willing to give up. We are a squad that has the expectation of winning if we are going out, it will be with our best foot forward,” Lunsford shared. One thing that was key last week was the time Hampton’s offensive line gave Trivett; that and the fact Trivett didn’t make one bad decision all night long offensively, they will have to play at that level again. One advantage the Bulldogs have is they get to play in the friendly confines of Bulldog Stadium and Coach Lunsford knows what that means to his team, “it’s electric when our crowd gets loud we just feel it, the crowd fuels us, we feel nearly unstoppable” Coach Lunsford stated. The cowbells will have to be in full force Friday night as the Bulldogs try to overcome their next challenge. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm.