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Coalfield ends Jellico’s season in playoffs

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By Robby O'Daniel

Coalfield cruised to a 56-14 victory over Jellico in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs at Coalfield School last Friday night.

“I thought that we came in prepared,” Jellico High School interim head football coach Johnny Massengale said. “We handed them some scores early, but Coalfield’s Coalfield. They’re going to smash you in the mouth and do what they do. Our kids never quit.”

Coalfield led 50-0 at halftime, which meant a running clock started with the beginning of the second half.

“In the locker room at halftime there, what can you do?” Massengale said. “You’re down whatever the score was, and chances to win are slim to none. And so you go in there. You break up the sad faces. You make them laugh and tell them, ‘Just relax. Just go out there and play.’ And that’s what they did. They didn’t quit. I’m proud of them.”

Three players — Noah Albertini, Joe Elliott and Blake Maiden — did not return for the second half due to injury, Massengale said.

“Joe Elliott, we were not sure that he was going to be able to come back and play because of his ankle injury,” Massengale said. “And by the sheer grace of God, we got him back, and he gave everything he could tonight. And it killed him not to be able to come back out.”

The Yellow Jackets had a 56-0 advantage after three quarters, but Jellico scored twice in the fourth quarter.

It was James Cassidy that recovered a Coalfield fumble at the Yellow Jacket 21-yard line, setting up Jellico’s first score: an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Buttram to wide receiver Noah Smith.

“Noah Smith is a leader,” Massengale said. “He sees things on the field that most kids don’t see. He sees things and relays the information, and we talk about it and we go with it.”

Keaten Jones was short on his 2-point rush, meaning it was 56-6 Coalfield with 6:34 remaining in the contest.

“Other seniors, Noah Albertini, hard-nosed ballplayer,” Massengale said. “He wants to win, and he runs hard. Mikey Delk was a first-year senior. If we had had him four years, he would have been a freak of nature. There’s no doubt about it.”

Buttram connected with Smith again, this time from 40 yards out, for a touchdown. Jones ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 56-14 with 1:11 left in the game.

“Andrew Buttram came in and played quarterback, had fun with it, learned on the curve, and he’s going to be a better man for stepping up and trying to do better things,” Massengale said.

Massengale also praised senior Ethan Davenport.

“Ethan did everything that was asked of him,” Massengale said. “He juggled dual enrollment classes and football when he didn’t have to. That says a lot about him.”

Jellico finished the year 1-10, marking the first double-digit loss season for the Blue Devils since 2014 when Jellico went winless. Jellico’s only win this season was at Unaka.

“Oakdale was a game that we really should have won,” Massengale said. “Discipline bit us in the hind end on that one. We were hopeful that we could build on the success at Unaka, and we did a little bit. Hancock game was a game we should’ve won. Should’ve competed better against Cosby and we should’ve beaten Berea, but like I told the kids, adversity is going to build your character or reveal your character. And they’ll remember these tough times for the rest of their life and they will help them carry through some things that happen later in life, I hope, and I love them. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.”