Rights Reserved-Hillsboro Globe; Associated Press Terrianna Carter and Ashja Murchison
5 Takeaways from Hillsboro’s 20-19 loss to Beech
Hillsboro IB World High School recently hosted Beech High School in the third round of the TSSAA football playoffs and the Burros ended the 2018 season with a tough loss. The final score, 20-19, in played on Overton’s football field because Hillsboro has not had a home field since November of 2017.
As the Region 6 5A champions, Hillsboro was predicted by many to win the third round. However, fans of both programs know, that the last three seasons have produced several intensively close games.
In the 2017-18 playoffs, Hillsboro traveled to Beech to battle for the right to move on to the semi-finals. The teams have been evenly matched for several seasons.
They have had comparable top running backs with Kaemon Dunlap of Beech and Jacob Frazier of Hillsboro. Hillsboro lost the 3rd round by a touchdown scored very late in the game.
Beech would go on to win its semi-final round but would get trounced at the Blue Cross State Championship by Knoxville Catholic.
And again in the current season, both teams have stellar running backs with Ja’Sean Parks (BHS) and Brian Covington (HHS). As predicted, Friday night’s game was close, emotional and it would came down to defensive plays.
There is no taking away the successes that Hillsboro had this season beating Independence, Centennial and Beech in the regular season. Though they will graduate 19 seniors, the rising seniors and juniors saw significant playing time and should be able to bring leadership to the spring practices.
The Hillsboro Globe’s 3rd Round Takeaways
1. Darius Smith is a true athlete.
Offensively, Smith, who started the season as a wide receiver, has seen game minutes in nearly every position. He finished the game with 243 all purpose yards in Friday’s game against Beech. As this game’s quarterback, Smith completed 8 of 10 pass attempts for 179 passing yards, two TDs and no interceptions. He ran for 64 yards in 7 attempts averaging 9.4 yards a carry. Defensively, he had 8 tackles (3 solo and 5 assisted) and two tackles for losses of a total of 21 yards.
2. Undisciplined play cost the Burros too many yards: As has been the case over the last 2 games, Hillsboro kept on shooting themselves in the foot with penalties. There is no question the penalties contributed to the loss. In the regular season game against Beech, the Burros had 4 penalties walking back on 35 yards. However, the last two playoff games combined for a crushing 23 penalties for a loss of 210 yards. Perhaps the strangest of all the penalties were the 3 delay of game calls on the final drive for Hillsboro. With each penalty, the Burros lost steam to keep the drive alive and ultimately, were unable to challenge the one point lead by Beech. They finished the game with 8 penalties for 105 yards which simply can’t happen if you want to win.
3. Beech’s push up front was the difference in the game
Beech had a monster day on the ground with 220 yards on 41 carries in a domination up front by the offensive line. Parks of Beech had another great game just as he has had all season.
Parks sealed the game late with a game-winning touchdown with 2:10 left in the first half giving Beech the 20-19 lead with around 2 minutes remaining. Foxx had a quiet game but the rest of Beech’s offense made up for it despite trailing 19-6 with 8 minutes left.
4. Hillsboro won the first 3 1/2 quarters; Beech owned the 4th
Hillsboro dominated nearly all of that game including moments were they could have truly broken away with that game such as not capitalizing on turnovers. Hillsboro gave up 14 points in the final 8 minutes and shot themselves in the foot rapidly with so many penalties in the 4th including on the last drive when Beech gained great field position because of a 15 yard penalty for unsportsman like conduct.
5. Despite the loss and losing several key players Hillsboro looks on to next year
With the loss of Joseph Honeysucker is an All-District, All Region Defensive back who isn’t done playing. He will finish his high school career in the East-West All State game and then prepare for a football career at Memphis University.
Donald Fitzgerald has barely begun his football career but losing his leadership and talent is going to be difficult to replace. He will leave behind Jacob Hood his giant twin. As a duo they were intimidating and quietly caused quarterbacks to fear their presence.
Darius Smith is out pick to be picked up late by a D-1 school. He certainly demonstrated that he can play nearly any position he is challenged with and finished so strong it is hard to believe he is not playing next Friday. Losing Smith is like losing four seniors: a wide receiver, quarterback, running back and safety.
Like Donald Fitzgerald, Harold Jemison has not yet hit his stride. His skills are catching up with his build. Given the right school placement, next year, we predict, will be his breakout year. Colleges that by-passed this full back with be wishing for a V8 when they realize they scooted over this gem.
Hillsboro must find replacements for each of these positions. The Burros have several rising leaders with Brian Covington, Jamaal Thompson, Dorian Dismukes, and Avont Burrus.
The Burros may have ended the game in a fog of disappointment, but there is much for Coach Fitzgerald to build on as they plan their next season on the way to Cookeville.