The Jo Byrns football team is back in the TSSAA playoffs for the third straight season after a 46-0 victory at Pickett County on Friday.
The victory helped Jo Byrns claim the No. 4 seed in Region 4-1A, setting up a first-round date at undefeated South Pittsburg (9-0) on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. A loss to Pickett County would have ended Jo Byrns’ season.
“Our playoffs really started last night,” said Jo Byrns coach Tom Adkins. “We took that focus, and the kids came out and played hard. It was a good team win.”
The Red Devils (2-8, 2-3 Region 4-1A) jumped out to a 39-0 lead by halftime. Senior Alex Wilson scored the final touchdown on a 4-yard run with 4:54 remaining in the third quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Ryan Dowlen accounted for three total touchdowns. He went 8-of-10 passing for 107 yards and two scores and ran for a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
“He’s been consistent all season,” Adkins said. “We were two-dimensional (on offense) – we mixed it up pretty well. He’s the leader of our offense and makes good decisions back there.”
Senior Bobby Ogg caught both touchdowns from Dowlen. He finished with five catches for 57 yards and did not have to punt a single time.
Elijah Farmer led the Red Devils with 82 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Fellow junior Jake Chennault rushed for 36 yards on three carries in his first action since a 35-6 loss at Monterey on Oct. 4. Chennault also missed half of last season with a dislocated elbow.
“He has fought the injury bug all year long,” Adkins said. “He played a little bit on both sides of ball (against Pickett County). It was good to get him back.”
Taylor Head intercepted Pickett County twice. Rudy Tucker also had an interception and a sack. Maxie Owens led the defense with seven total tackles, while Bailey Serignet had six tackles and a sack.
Jo Byrns and South Pittsburg have some history. The Pirates topped the Red Devils 42-0 in the second round of the 2017 playoffs. They also defeated Jo Byrns 41-7 for the 2010 Class A state championship at Tennessee Tech.
“We’re familiar with them,” Adkins said. “They’ve consistently been there year in, year out. They are physical and well-coached. We’ll have to match that intensity.”