Cleveland vs Knox Catholic Football Preview

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Cleveland vs Knox Catholic Football Preview

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It was a highly-anticipated game. Spirit Week had the best participation since I got to the high school. The student body was stoked for Friday night. And it was here.

The beautiful night turned into an ugly first half for the Blue Raiders. Cleveland had (at least) 3 scores called back, and two were on back to back plays at the goal line. One, being a touchdown run by defensive lineman Victor Dodd, and the other by power back Jordan Hickey.

The other touchdown called back was a 70 yard touchdown reception by Robert Flowers, and boy, was it pretty. Flowers went up over two Governor defenders, pulled the ball down with one hand, and put on the burners.

With all these splash plays, the Blue Raiders trailed 7-3 at the half. Coach Scott Cummings and staff coached a good half. Don’t let the score fool you. It very well should have been 24-7 at the break. But it wasn’t. And the team knew it.

After a lengthy halftime because of the homecoming ceremony, it was time for the second half. And boy, did Cleveland come out hungry as ever.

Though the passing game wasn’t necessarily at its best, the Cleveland team dropped 41 points in the second half, much credited to the run game. Whether it be Jeffrey Perez, “Bug” Bowman, or even QB Jackson Moore, Cleveland ran the ball down the throats of the Governor defense the entire second half.

The Blue Raiders finished with 300 yards on the ground over the course of the game. Perez and Bowman both broke the 100-yard-mark.

Player of the Game :

Victor Dodd: Dodd had his touchdown run called back in the first half for illegal formation, but made up for it by scoring two touchdowns within minutes in the final minutes of the game. Dodd picked off a swing pass by William Blount quarterback Trey Clemmer near midfield and went untouched down the right sideline, and then took an onside kick to the house just a few minutes later. Congratulations on a great game, Vic. 


Last year at Benny Monroe Stadium, the Fighting Irish of Knoxville Catholic came in and according to the scoreboard, they put it on the Blue Raiders 33-7.

But don’t let the score fool you. Cleveland was in that game. In fact, they took a 7-5 lead early in the game. But after a crushing blow on former QB Kellye Cawood by now-Georgia-lineman Cade Mays, the momentum shifted, and the Irish took command of the game.

The Blue Raiders are one of the most talented teams in the state, and that’s no stretch. They’re not scared of Catholic, nor are they expecting to travel to Knoxville to lose. Last week, after the game on Friday, quarterback Jackson Moore told CHSLive the team needs to “cut down the mental errors” in order to defeat the Irish.

This is vital for the Blue Raiders to pull off a huge road win. Against William Blount, Cleveland committed FOURTEEN penalties for 105. Given, most of these were deemed mistakes after watching film, but just because there were blown calls, doesn’t mean it benefits Cleveland any more. There were many false starts or offsides penalties called on Cleveland that are easily fixed. Discipline. Focus.



It’s no surprise here. Cleveland’s offense cannot be one dimensional on Friday. They can’t rely solely on the run game, though it’s one of the best in East Tennessee. Jackson Moore and the Blue Raider wideouts have to get work done on the field. Robert Flowers is always an X-Factor, but look for Jay Townsend on Friday. He’s a new transfer, but wasted no time getting in the end zone on Friday vs the Governors.


The Knox Catholic offense is going to be much different than the one the Blue Raiders saw a year ago. But according to a few Blue Raider defenders, the son of infamous former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is the player to keep an eye on. Adam Jones is the primary wideout for the Irish offense, and has had quite the start to the year. In week 2 of their season, he had eight receptions for 97 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the 35-16 win over Baylor School.



Though Jones may be a perimeter receiving threat, it’s safe to say that he’s not seen a cornerback as dominant as David Dorsey of Cleveland. Dorsey is all-around lockdown, and is starting to get more and more recognition as one of the top DBs in the area. Another dominant Blue Raider defender is freshman Leo Palelei. Over the first 3 games of the season, the linebacker has been one of the most dominant defenders I’ve seen wear the Cleveland uniform, especially at his young age. He flies to the ball, seems to have a feel for how the play is going to be run, and is seemingly the first player in every tackle. Look for Leo to show out in his first big test of his high school career.


If it weren’t for a 93-yard-TD run by Micaleous Elder, the Irish defense would have pitched a shutout against the Blue Raiders last year. They lost a few big pieces, but look for JT Quinones to show out on Friday.  Quinones had two interceptions and returned one 17 yards for a touchdown in the win against Baylor week 2. Jackson Moore has to be careful with his decision making period.

All in All, it’s going to be a great matchup this Friday. It’s a clash of the titans. Both teams have multiple state championships under their belt, and Cleveland is looking to get another one for the first time in over 20 years. If Cleveland limits the mental/unforced errors, they’ll have a legitimate shot.

The Blue Raiders will be hungry.. and they won’t go down easy.