BY BRIAN HAMILTON
South-Doyle and Oak Ridge faced off in the Class 5A state semi-finals last season, with the Wildcats coming away with a 14-0 shutout win before falling to Summit in the state championship.
The two teams will meet again on Thursday night at Oak Ridge, the site of South-Doyle’s last game, with the Cherokees looking for revenge.
The Wildcats are led by running back Kendall Jackson, who has been lauded as one of the Knox News’ Elite 8 this preseason. The senior is one of the top prospects in the Knoxville area and teams such as Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Arizona Stare and Memphis, among many others, have shown interest.
South-Doyle has a fine running back of its own, in senior Shawn Gary, who also lines up at safety on the other side of the ball.
In 2020, South-Doyle finished second in Class 5A Region 2, while Oak Ridge finished second in Class 5A Region 3.
The Wildcats avenged a midseason loss to first place Knoxville West in the third round of the playoffs, while South-Doyle also took out its region champion (Knoxville Central) in the quarterfinal round.
The winner of Thursday’s game will begin the season with a momentum boost, while the loser will be able to use this game as a means to improve going forward. Regardless, it should be a must-see game in Oak Grove.