By David Grindstaff
firstname.lastname@example.orgAction in the Toe river Conference middle school football league is heating up as the upper echelon teams are separating themselves from the pack in the third week of competition.
Two of those teams are still undefeated and will meet this week in what should be the battle for the regular season title. East Yancey (3-0), who topped Bowman 44-0 last week, and Harris (3-0), which beat Avery Middle 58-7, will meet in Spruce Pine Tuesday night with the winner having the inside track to the regular season crown and the top seed in the playoffs.
East Yancey wasted little time showing their dominance in a trip to Bakersville to take on the Bulldogs last week. The Panthers grabbed an early 8-0 lead on the strength of a 14 yard TD pass from QB Trey Robinson to Dawson Branton and two point conversion run by Austin Randolph.
The Panther defense got into the act when Dawson Branton came away with a pick six, taking a Bulldog pass attempt 14 yards for a score to put East in front 14-0.
After forcing Bowman three and out with a hard hitting defense, East Yancey tacked on another first quarter score when Derek Thomas broke loose from 8 yards out and Trey Robinson rushed for the two point conversion and the Panthers were rolling 22-0 early in the second quarter. The score was set up by a Trey Robinson punt return deep into the Bowman red zone.
The Panther defense, Trevor Hughes (DE), Chris Freeman (T), Mike McCoy (T), Kane McCandless (T), Logan Woody (LB), Dathan Robinson (LB), Seth Randolph (LB), Trey Robinson (SS), Douglas Gouge (CB), Derek Thomas (CB) and Austin Randolph (CB), held the Bulldogs to no first downs in the contest.
Another strong punt return, this time a 52 yard scamper by Dathan Robinson, set up another Panther score before halftime. Dathan Robinson finished off the drive with a 19 yard touchdown run and with the two point run by Austin Randolph East Yancey enjoyed a 30-0 advantage at the intermission.
Early in the third quarter a Seth Randolph 23 yard run put the Panthers in scoring position once again. Trey Robinson then hooked up with Mike McCoy on a scoring pass that covered 32 yards and coupled with the two point run by Jacob Autrey, East Yancey extended its lead to 38-0.
The Panther depth showed through in the second half as Coach Wade Sheehan emptied his bench in the 3rd and 4th quarters and the reserves continued to pour it on.
Following a fumble recovery by Chris Trimm that gave East possession at the Dog 49 yard line, ,Jacob Autrey busted a 46 yard TD run to give the Panthers their final margin of victory.
Coach Sheehan praised the work of his offensive line, Logan Woody (TE), Mike McCoy (TE), Isaac Quintero (RT), Ethan Dale (C, Thomas Brown (RG), Zeb Virnelson (LG), Trevor Hughes (LT) and Dawson Branton (Wide Out) for their work in the trenches against the Bulldog defense.
In other TRC action Harris stopped Avery 58-7 and Cranberry bested Cane River 30-8.