'Dogs prepare for speedy Doak

By Jamie Combs

   Like wads of gift wrap scattered across a living room floor on Christmas Day, Chuckey-Doak's offense is capable of making things messy for the Hampton High football team.
   "They've got two backs that can just go all the way at any time," said Hampton coach J.C. Campbell, referring to Doak speedsters Brent Price and Adan Blevins. "If they clear the line of scrimmage it could be six, quick. They can take it on to the house."
   The two postseason-bound Watauga Conference teams square off tonight in a regular season-ending engagement, with kickoff slated for 7:30.
   The contest is an important one for the Bulldogs (2-1, 5-4), who will gain homefield advantage for the first round of the TSSAA playoffs by defeating the Black Knights (1-2, 4-5).
   Asked if his players are in a good frame of mind following last week's decisive loss to Cloudland, Campbell responded by saying: "I would think so. I didn't mention Cloudland this week -- we went on to Chuckey-Doak -- and I never got any feedback or anything like that.
   "They should know what's in store -- the difference it could be between going on the road or staying at home."
   Motivation shouldn't be too big of a problem for the Black Knights, either. While Chuckey-Doak is looking to achieve a break-even record, there is still a chance the Knights, currently the Watauga's fourth-place club, can improve their playoff seeding.
   "We'd rather have third (place) than fourth, based on the fact we don't want to go to Alcoa," said Chuckey-Doak coach George Frye, whose Black Knights were routed by Alcoa in the opening round of the 2000 postseason.
   "That should be enough motivation. Even if we beat Hampton, some other things have to happen. Of course we're playing for pride and we'd like to be .500. If we can slip in there and get third, that would be great."
   A Chuckey-Doak win, coupled with one of three potential outcomes involving other games, would be good enough to move the Black Knights into the No. 3 seed.
   The Black Knights' chances of upending Hampton rest firmly on the running of Price and Blevins, plus the performance of a physical defensive unit.
   Arguably the league's top breakaway threat, Price (822 yards rushing, 10 TDs) is averaging a robust 6.6 yards per carry while Blevins (326 yards rushing), an all-purpose threat, averages an impressive 5.8 yards a pop.
   Defensively, Chuckey-Doak is spurred by three seniors: end Lee Fletcher, tackle Brian Williams and linebacker Jason Johnson.
   Campbell believes that the Black Knights' 4-5 overall record is quite deceiving.
   "They look better than that," said the Hampton skipper. "I don't know what their competition was, but they've got a good-looking ball club. I'm impressed with them."
   Chuckey-Doak won last year's battle with the 'Dogs, 19-6, using many of the same players producing on this year's squad.
   "We beat Hampton and Happy Valley both last year, which had never been done here," Frye said. "I think they were both a little down last year. I hope we've improved -- Hampton sure has."
   Naturally, the Black Knights aim to put the brakes on Hampton's tradition-rich running attack, which is paced by Michael Peterson (616 yards, 5.7 avg.) and Jeremy Hall (496, 4.7).
   Quarterback Mitchell Morton (35-of-73, 551 yards) and receivers Peterson (17-322), Josh Nave (10-159) and Corey McKinney (5-33) have been building a solid passing game for the 'Dogs.
   "They're tough," Frye said of the boys in blue. "It's going to be a good game, I hope, for both teams. It's traditionally a good game. There's a lot of friendly rivalry still involved with Hampton and Chuckey-Doak."
   To combat Chuckey-Doak's speed, Hampton may need to call on its secondary, consisting of Morton, McKinney, Justin Waycaster and Mel Ramey, for good open-field tackling.
   The 'Dogs could be without four players -- Sean Moody, Matt Shankel, Adam Potter, Kevin Harrison -- due to injury, making for a precarious situation.
   Above all, Campbell wants to see a little more steadiness from his Hampton outfit.
   "More consistency and a little better tackling," he said. "Even at times we moved the ball on Cloudland. We just didn't do it enough."
   Notes: If Hampton loses and South Greene defeats Happy Valley -- creating a three-way Watauga tie for second-place -- the tiebreaking formulas still might put the 'Dogs at home for their playoff opener. They can finish as high as second but as low as fourth in the conference.