Tigers’ playoff run ends at Greeneville
For the third season in a row the Marshall County Tigers were on the cusp of a state finals berth, but once again it was not to be as the two-time state champion Greeneville Greene Devils handed MCHS a 49-24 season ending loss.
“It was a great season and I couldn’t be more proud to be the coach at Marshall County High School,” Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen said. “Four years ago these seniors consented to a young head coach who didn’t know much at all and fours later to see what we have accomplished is impressive.”
“To be to the semifinals three years in a row and not get it done stings as a coach, but I feel we are one of the top four teams in 4A, we are close to being a championship program, but not there yet and it will take all of us to get there.”
Burley Stadium was packed to capacity on a chilly Friday night in Greeneville as the two number one seeds met in the Class 4A semifinal where the Tigers’ hopes were undone on a couple of untimely penalties and the inability to stop newly crowned Class 4A Mr. Football Cade Ballard and the Greene Devils offense.
“It is no shame to lose to a team like Greeneville, I believe they will win the state championship next week by a lot of points,” Osteen said.
Ballard was the difference in the game as the junior quarterback went 13-of-16 for 158 yards and tossed two touchdowns, while leading Greeneville in rushing with 150 yards on 14 carries and a pair of scores.
Greeneville finished with 435 total yards of offense and the Tigers put 365 yards as Bryce Wallace completed 15-of-26 passes for 184 yards and ran for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
Kamron Liggett was the main focus of the Greeneville defensive unit all night as the senior running back finished his record setting career with 81 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown.
Liggett finished with a school record 1,834 yards on 284 carries and 34 touchdowns on the year and 4,135 and 74 touchdowns in his varsity career.
Marshall County received the opening kickoff and drove all the way to Greeneville 10-yard line before a pair of penalties pushed them back and an incomplete pass on fourth down forced the Tigers to settle for a Caleb Estes 32-yard field goal with 5:52 remaining in the first quarter.
“It would have giving us some more momentum if we got six points there,” Osteen said. “I think that was bogus holding call there and I think it would have made it a better score at halftime.”
The Greene Devils answered with a 10-play, 85-yard drive that was capped off by 4-yard touchdown pass from Ballard to Cam Hite.
Eli Shepherd booted the first of seven PATs in the game.
The Greenville defense forced a Tiger three-and-out before scoring again early in the second quarter to make it a 14-3 contest.
Marshall County tried to answer, driving to the Greenville 21-yard line before Jacques Gillespie-Taylor sacked Wallace, forcing a third-and-19 situation.
Wallace tossed a 10-yard completion to Devon Wilson but an incomplete pass on fourth down ended the drive.
Greeneville scored again, this time capped off by a 30-yard touchdown run by Ty Youngblood to make it 21-3 with 3:15 remaining in the first half.
Undaunted, the Tigers went on an important scoring drive that was highlighted by a circus catch by Matt Runions deep in Greeneville territory and made it a 21-10 ballgame when Liggett scored from one yard out with 15 seconds left in the first half.
“The first half really went as about as good as we thought,” Osteen stated. “We wanted to limit their possessions and if you would have told they had only three possessions I would have been really happy.”
“I wish we could have scored once more to make it 21-17 or so.”
The Tigers needed a big defense stop and got it on Greeneville’s first touch of the second half when they forced a punt, but a bad snap on second down put Marshall County behind the chains and they had to kick the ball back to the Greene Devils.
“If there was one moment we would have liked to have back that was it.” Osteen said. “We got that stop, had the ball in good field position, we got a few yards on first down and then had a miscommunication with the center and a fumbled snap and from there it was all uphill.”
That was the turning point of the contest as Greeneville scored two plays later when Ballard raced 65-yards for a score, making it a 28-3 contest.
The Greene Devils forced another Marshall County punt and put the game on ice with 3:21 remaining in the third quarter on a Jaevon Gillespie 4-yard touchdown burst.
Both squads scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns with Wallace scoring twice on the ground and Ballard ran one in and tossed a 31-yard touchdown pass to a Jamion Thompson.
“I’m just as proud to be the head coach of the Marshall County Tigers right now as I was before the game started,” Osteen said. “I know it hurts now, but in a few days they will look back and know they are part of an elite group from what they have accomplished in these past four years.”
“In my four years, I have never had one senior after it was over say I regret playing high school football. They are all going to be able to look back and say I was a better father and a better man because I played high school football and was part of something very special.”
Marshall County graduating seniors are Caleb Estes, Grant Agnew, Kamron Liggett, Tavi Mclean, Brandon Rowan, Matt Runions, Hunter Cummings, Billy Cheek, Joseph Freeland, Joshua Johnson, Jason Donisa, Taylor Clark, CJ Hunter, David Roberts, and Camryn Ruiz.
“When these seniors look back on what they did, they will so proud of what they have been a part of,” said Osteen, who was voted the Region 4/4A Coach of the Year. “One of the biggest attributes of having the success we have had is the young kids only know how good Tiger football has been.”
“That’s how you create good programs is when people coming up don’t want to let the people in front of them down.”
Marshall County 3 7 0 14-24
Greeneville 7 14 14 14-49
Marshall County-Caleb Estes 32-yard field goal, 5:52
Greeneville-Cam Hite 4-yard pass from Cade Ballard, Eli Sheppard PAT, 2:19
Greeneville-Ty Youngblood 1-yard run, Sheppard PAT, 10:34
Greeneville-Youngblood 30-yard run, Sheppard PAT, 3:15
Marshall County-Kamron Liggett 1-yard run, Estes PAT, 0:15
Greeneville-Ballard 65-yard run, Sheppard PAT, 10:14
Greeneville- Jaevon Gillespie 4-yard run, Sheppard PAT, 3:21
Marshall County-Bryce Wallace 5-yard run, Estes PAT, 9:55
Greeneville-Ballard 25-yard run, Sheppard PAT, 4:43
Greeneville- Jamion Thompson 31-yard pass from Ballard, Sheppard PAT, 4:06
Marshall County-Wallace 7-yard run, Estes PAT, 0:19
Marshall County Offense
Rushing-Kamron Liggett 19-81-TD, Bryce Wallace 24-76-2TD, Javarria Rucker 2-22, Mason Warner 1-2, Hunter Cummings 1-0
Passing-Bryce Wallace 15-26-184-INT
Receiving-Devon Wilson 4-67, Brandon Rowan 4-44, Matt Runion 1-39, Dagon Stacey 3-27, Kamron Liggett 3-7
Kickoffs-Kamron Liggett 5-132
Field Goals-Caleb Estes 1-1-32
Kickoffs-Caleb Estes 5-210-3TB
Coach of the Year-Thomas Osteen
Region Co-MVP-Kamron Liggett
Defensive Player of the Year-Tavi Mclean
Kicker of the Year-Caleb Estes
Lineman of the Year-Dave Roberts
Assistant Coach of the Year-Justin Perry
Offensive 1st Team
Defensive 1st Team