Jo Byrns dropped a 48-7 loss at South Pittsburg on Friday, ending its season in the first round of the TSSAA playoffs.

South Pittsburg (10-0) is considered a contender for the Class 1A state title. Seven of the Pirates’ 10 wins have come by 40 points or more.

“A lot of people are picking them to win state, maybe including me,” Jo Byrns coach Tom Adkins. “They are by far the best team we’ve played this year. They have a lot on seniors on that football team. They are going to be a hard out.”

South Pittsburg senior Ronto Tipton rushed for four touchdowns. De'Andre Kelly and Cameron Trussell also ran for scores, while quarterback Brayden Sanders hit Jaylyn Hubbard for a 36-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

The Pirates led 42-0 at halftime. Jo Byrns scored its lone touchdown on a 2-yard run from junior Jake Chennault in the third quarter. He finished with 34 yards on 11 carries.

“(South Pittsburg) controlled the line of scrimmage,” Adkins said. “We had trouble running the football. We tried to be two-dimensional but didn’t have a lot of success.”

Jo Byrns QB Ryan Dowlen completed six of his 10 passes for 42 yards and one interception. The Red Devils had 117 yards of total offense, while South Pittsburgh had 327.

Rudy Tucker led the Red Devil defense with seven total tackles. Emmanuel Barbee contributed six. Jo Byrns was without second-leading tackler Maxie Owens, who missed the game with an injury.

Jo Byrns (2-9) loses seven seniors to graduation. They include Owens, Tucker, Bobby Ogg, Alex Wilson, Noelan Woods, Jacob Richards and Matthew Henegar.

“They went to the playoffs three of their four years,” Adkins said. “Their leadership has been important for the younger kids to see. We’ll miss those guys.”

However, Dowlen, Chennault and other key contributors return in 2020. Jo Byrns also won the middle school county championship, and Adkins is hopeful the influx of new players will help build the team’s depth.

“We’ve got a good nucleus coming back,” Adkins said. “We need to build depth. If we can get some of those (upcoming) freshmen to come out, that will help.”

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