Summer Preview: Maryville Rebels

What do you do for an encore? How do you top two back to back 4A state titles and 10 overall state championships? Beat two 15-0 seasons in a row? As unfortunate as it may be for Maryville's opponents, these Rebels are just getting started.

Maryville High School

Head Coach: George Quarles
Mascot: Red Rebels
Located: Maryville, TN
Class/ Region: 4A, Region 3
2005 Record: 15-0, 7-0 Region, 4A State Champs

2005 Schedule:

Aug. 26 at Alcoa W 41-21
Sep. 2 at Clinton R W 37-0
Sep. 9 Heritage W 35-0
Sep. 16 Powell R W 47-19
Sep. 23 at William Blount W 39-3
Sep. 30 at Knox Central R W 17-14
Oct. 7 West R W 41-12
Oct. 14 at South Doyle R W 55-0
Oct. 21 Knoxville Halls R W 28-12
Oct. 28 Lenoir City R W 56-20
Nov. 4 White Co. W 45-7
Nov. 11 Powell W 27-0
Nov. 18 Knox Central W 33-23
Nov. 25 at Morristown West W 28-0
Dec. 3 Melrose 4A Cship W 23-10

2006 Schedule:

8-18 South Doyle
8-25 Alcoa
9-01 Clinton
9-08 @ Heritage
9-15 @ Powell
9-22 William Blount
9-29 Central
10-6 @ West
10-14 Open
10-20 @ Halls
10-27 @ Lenoir City

Here's a new slogan for football in Blount County: "It's Always Sunny in Maryville." The Red Rebels are coming off of their second TSSAA 4A State Championship in a row and their 9th TSSAA championship overall. That's currently tied with Brentwood Academy's mark. Matter of fact, Maryville has won the last 6 of 8 4A championships.

Everyone that knows anything about the Rebels knows the word "rebuild" has no meaning at MHS. With that in mind, the word most commonly used is "reload". That's just what the Rebels have done yet again in 2006. Maryville graduates senior greats Ryan Tallent, Kat Kimsey, John Lawhon, MTSU signee Garry Tucker and Matt Valentine among others, but their backups and co-starters got plenty of snaps and were great in their own right in 2005.

So enter the year of QB Derek Hunt, RB Adrian Tank Baker, UT commit WR Tyler Maples, newcomer and WR/RB Tim Rodriques (transfer from Virginia), UT commit TE Aaron Douglas, OL Justin Huskey and Louis Darras, DE Dwight Wood, LB Tanner Caylor, Blue Cross Bowl Defensive MVP Landon Hall and a host of equally impressive Rebel seniors, juniors and sophomores.

Ask most people who know football and they'll tell you straight up, "the two QB system canot work at the high school level." The kids are too competitve, they won't want to share their position and the offense never builds any kind of rythmn or continuity.

Tell that to Coach Quarles and his 15-0 QB duo of Derek Hunt and Brent Burnette. The short and sweet of it is that Hunt knows the book and brings the wheels to get outta trouble (and score) and Burnette has amped his knowledge and brings a cannon of an arm. They are completely interchangeable and completely unselfish. They will also be surrounded by D1 caliber receiving targets.

The Rebel D line took a big graduation hit and may be the teams biggest concern. As mentioned above though, the D line back-ups took meaningful snaps against the best in 4A and learned their positions. Additionally, the Rebel line coaches proved last year that pulling a rabbit out the hat isn't unheard of in the Rebel Nation.

With few weaknesses and two championship rings, one might ask, "what is there for this team to prove that they have not already?" The Rebels don't think in those terms. They think, "last year is last is today", so look for these seniors to go out with one more ring and yet another trip to Murfreesboro.

How's the schedule look?

Maryville gets arch rivals Alcoa and Central at home and that's always a plus. Both will be breaking in new QB's in hostile surroundings. The away games are where the Rebels will get their biggest challenges in a resurgent Powell Panther team, led by new head coach Matt Lowe and an equally tough Knox West team that is looking to play spoiler.

With exceptions to the Alcoa game, the non-regional slate has always been lacking for the Rebs, with matchups against 5A lightweight Heritage and on again, off again William Blount at Blount. Blount obviously being the better challenge in this pair. Both are merely chip shots for a team as talented as Maryville.

Key games:

At Powell and at West. These two games could be real powder keg situations for the Red Rebels, if they do not take them seriously enough. It's as of yet undetermined what impact Matt Lowe's head coaching philosophy will have on the Panthers, but look for Powell to challenge for one of the top slots in Region 3 this year. Lowe will have to decide if transfer Kenny Cruze will play QB, WR or both, or if Senior Matt Abba will do at QB. Senior FB/LB Jordan Lakin was hurt in a scrimmage with Oak Ridge in the spring, so it will be interesting to see how he comes back from that ankle turn. All reports have him on schedule.

Coach Scott Cummings has Knox West humming. One need only look at their impressive 1st half performance vs. Maryville last year to know that Cummings and staff have some things figured out and with a lil more talent might actually scare Maryvillle. The days of being called "the lil rebs" in Region 3 may be over for West. Look for QB Jake Ryan (the son of NFL Eagle great Pat Ryan) to be more challenging than previous West QB's. He has a stable of great receivers around him as well.

Best Offensive Player:

Senior WR Tyler Maples.

On a team that has little drop off from one position to another, it's difficult to make a choice here. Maples is an unbelievable gem though. As a junior he racked up: 73 yards on 9 runs, 986 yards and 15 TD's on 48 catches, 403 yards and 3 TD's on 20 punt returns, 350 yards and 2 TD's on 11 kickoff returns, 141 yards and 2 TD's on 4 interceptions in 2005. Need we say more....

Look for Maples to have a dandy season in 2006. OL Justin Huskey and RB Tank Baker also get consideration.

Best Defensive Player:

Senior DE Dwight Wood.

Nope, he's not your prototypical DE. To look at him without pads you might even think he plays WR or RB. It's when Wood puts the pads and helmet on that things turn scary. By example, he missed the MHS single season sack record (21) by just 4 sacks as a junior (17 total).

He confounded opposing TE's and OG's all last season with his low to the ground leverage and mid 4.6 speed. Let's not forget that this was a kid that was playing special teams and in mop up duty just one season previous, with no meaningful starts. He finished 2005 with just under 100 total tackles and 65 solo stops. He also caused 2 fumbles, recovering both and scoring on one against arch rival Powell.

Senior LB's Tanner Caylor and Landon Hall are just as talented and freakishly fast.

Key player to a successful season:

RB Tank Baker. Will the Rebel attack grind to a halt if Baker can't replace Ryan Tallent by himself...of course not. but the Rebel offensive attack needs Baker to be more than a nice scat back option in 2006. Tank will have to take a lot of the departed Ryan Tallent's load on his shoulders this year and do it with ease.

Sure, he has Ryan Singleton and the two sophomores McCoy and Shuler to back him up, but Maryville shines brightest when one RB is running wild from the first snap and dominating the defense. Baker should have no problem whatsoever making the transition to that role. So far, Furman and Akron University both agree. Tanks stats in 05 back that up as well, with 1146 all purpose rushing yards and 17 TD's, while sharing the backfield with 1400 yard rusher Tallent.

The season will be a success if ...

The Rebels reach 15-0 and win TSSAA championship #10 and overall championship #11. Nothing else is acceptable for this program and these seniors. In speaking to the Rebel leadership, they will not rest until gold ball #10 is safe in the trophy case on Lawrence Avenue.

Tn Prep Sports prediction: 15-0, State Champions

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