FOUNTAIN CITY (WVLT) - The Halls Red Devils are red hot, the Central Bobcats are in danger of losing their bite, and both schools are looking to improve their early-season standing Friday in one of Knoxville's oldest rivalry games.
The Red Devils (1-0) are looking to beat the idling Bobcats (0-2) for the first time since 1997, but they aren't fooled by Central's slow start.
"Kids look at 0-2 and they think they're not Central, but they are Central," Halls coach Kevin Julian said. "We talked to them and showed it to them and they understand that Central's as good as they always are. They've had a little bit of tough luck. Coach Helton will get the kids playing hard, that's for sure."
The 0-2 start is an anomaly for the Bobcats, who have perenially contended with Maryville for the Region 3-4A title. Both losses came against 5A opponents. In their first game they suffered an agonizing 18-14 setback to Cookeville, a game which they led 14-3 early in the fourth quarter.
Last week Farragut's Andre Sterling rumbled for 181 yards and four touchdowns as the Admirals toppled Central, 45-7.
Meanwhile, Halls enters the game on a high after defeating Sevier County 28-20 in its season-opener. Receiver Daniel Dayton hauled in a touchdown pass and Kevin Waggoner and Wesley Kitts each ran for scores to give the Red Devils their second win against the Smoky Bears in the last six meetings.
Last year Central shut out Halls, 35-0. This game may very well be much closer.
In other area action...
Bearden takes its 2-0 record to Kingsport Dobyns Bennett, who lost to William Blount last week. The Indians edged Bearden last season, 10-6.
Knoxville Catholic visits Austin-East in what could be a playoff preview. The Irish (2-0) pounded TSSAA newcomer Stone Memorial 48-3 last week, while AE (0-1) looks to rebound from a season-opening 35-27 loss to Webb.
A hot Farragut squad hosts Heritage, who is coming off a bye week after a 27-16 loss to Seymour. Farragut's Andre Sterling has averaged 192 rushing yards in his first two games of the season.
Fulton hopes to rebound from a loss to Oak Ridge against the Anderson County Mavericks, who beat county rival Clinton 23-6 to open the season.