By Trey Williams
When Daniel Boone or David Crockett wins three straight Musket Bowls – the annual football clash between the Washington County rivals – a musket is awarded to the victor.
In 51 years, David Crockett has claimed one musket.
The Pioneers, who will visit Daniel Boone on Sept. 1, beat the Trailblazers three straight times from 2000-02. Coach Brent Bledsoe won the first two before giving way to Scott Fox, whose first team completed the three-peat.
Bledsoe arrived at Crockett in ’99. The Pioneers had endured 16 straight losing seasons after going 5-5 in 1982 during Jerry Jenkins’ first season.
And while the Pioneers went 3-7, including a 42-14 loss to Boone in the ninth game of the season, players could see a tone being set during Bledsoe’s debut.
Josh Edens was a freshman lineman in 1999.
“When I got to Davy Crockett as a freshman,” Edens said, “Crockett was known for one thing, and it wasn’t winning football games – it was losing. And Brent Bledsoe came in my freshman year … and he wouldn’t allow us to wear that ‘loser’ label at Davy Crockett.”
Wesley Dulaney was a record-setting quarterback under Bledsoe’s tutelage. He passed for 4,900 yards and 54 touchdowns.
“I really think Coach Bledsoe turned the atmosphere around, nothing bad against anyone before,” Dulaney said. “He was kind of an old tough-nosed football guy as well. He didn’t take a lot and he always wanted to find something to yell about, but he was definitely an excellent coach.”
There wasn’t much to yell about when Crockett played Boone during Bledsoe’s final two seasons.
Crockett won 27-6 in the Minidome at East Tennessee State on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2000 during Trailblazers coach Ken Green’s final season.
Dulaney threw a 53-yard TD pass to Shannon France on the opening possession. Boone fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Matt Tittle recovered. Josh Overstreet scored from nine yards out on the following play, and Crockett was up 14-0 with eight-plus minutes left in the first quarter.
Travis Costner’s 20-yard run made it 20-0 and Tyler Baker’s 7-yard TD catch concluded the scoring in the fourth after Boone had made it somewhat respectable. France finished with five catches for 148 yards.
Crockett won 14-7 on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2001 in the Minidome. Dulaney threw a 27-yard TD pass to Tittle in a crowd of defenders with 1:13 remaining for the winning score. Dulaney was 13-of-17 passing for 178 yards. Tittle had 11 of those completions, which gained 127 yards.
The most gratifying victory, especially for an offensive linemen such as Edens, was in 2002. Boone, a decided underdog under second-year coach Carl Richards, had scored late in the first half to get within 21-12 at halftime.
But Crockett went to its ground game in the second half and essentially made a greasy spot out of Boone on the dome’s carpet before taking the musket to Jonesborough. The Pioneers ran the ball on their first 16 plays of the second half, which were good for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
“There was a lot of pressure to three-peat and win that third time against Boone,” Edens said. “We knew we had the better team. We knew it was a game we were supposed to win and should win. But we give up a touchdown late in the first half and … we’re sitting in a silent locker room and we just make this decision – this choice – that, ‘Man, this is not happening. They are not gonna take this from us.’
“We head back out on the field and we spent the next two quarters just doing everything in our power to run through everybody and anything in our path. And we end up blowing them out in the second half.”
Edens’ teammates on the offensive line were Josh Gilreath, Brandon Shipley, Matt Torbett and Jeremy Crain. Adam Jarrett carried 15 times for 122 yards and two TDs while Costner had 115 yards and three TDs on 16 rushes. Costner also pancaked two Boone running backs trying to protect the passer when he blitzed quarterback Chris Clear.
“He was a train coming through,” Dulaney said. “I played with him in football, basketball and baseball. I think he actually hit people harder on the basketball court than the football field.
“A lot of times we ran a single-back set with four receivers and we did so many traps with him because he could just pound it out. It took more than one person to get him down every time, which was always nice with him. He was one of those downhill runners. He didn’t dance and do all this stuff. He found the hole and he hit it. He was one of the toughest backs I ever saw.”
Boone’s beleaguered Coach Richards credited Costner and company after the game.
“They took that football and shoved it right down our throats in the second half,” Richards said.
That was pretty much what Coach Fox had instructed the Pioneers to do at halftime.
“Coach said, ‘We’re going to run it down their throats,’” Costner said after the game, “and that’s exactly what we did.”
The Pioneer players, giddy with their unprecedented feat, ran around the Minidome like Olympic gold medalists.
“The adage is act like you’ve been there,” Edens said. “Well, hey, it was the first time we had three-peated and we were excited and we were hyped, and they presented us that musket to take home to Crockett – the first one to keep – and we did this victory lap around the field. We took the flags from the cheer squad and we were just victory-lapping around the Minidome.
“And I remember the rivalry was so intense that the fans would get into it during, before and after the game – arguments and giving each other down the road, not to mention the players on the field. It was so intense and passionate and it meant so much to so many people. I can remember as we’re making this victory lap around the Minidome and there’s this (Boone) grandmother, and she hangs over the rail and she’s just giving us the business.”
Indeed, community pride swells to the vicinity of hatred when the programs clash.
“It wasn’t just about two football teams, it was North against South,” Edens said. “It was two sides of the county that, for four quarters of football and the week building up to it, it was about your kids who’d played before, and for players it was about your daddy and your uncles and your cousins and your older brother and your granddaddy that had played. It was a game that was steeped in tradition for us.
“It was about bragging rights. It was about pride in your school, pride in your family, pride in your town. And there just couldn’t have been anything better than the Musket Bowl.”
Edens recalled a funny anecdote involving good friend/Boone running back Ben Moody.
“I remember the week of the Musket Bowl we sat at a church at a chili supper, shoulder to shoulder, and we’d been friends since childhood,” Edens said, “and I don’t think me or Ben spoke a word to each other that night, because it was Musket Bowl week. You laid those relationships and those friendships aside that week. It was red and gold against brown and gold. …
“Winning was a matter of pride. You were gonna see those guys in Johnson City at the Mall and break bread at the same places. And you wanted to be able to just look across the restaurant at ‘em and for them to know that you had got ‘em that year – that for 365 days, you owned them.”
A musket won’t be on the line on Sept. 1. The teams have split the past four games. But the Boone juniors could win three straight if they win next week and next year.
“The Musket that hangs in the cafeteria at David Crockett High School to this day – it’s a point of pride for me to say is the one my senior class brought home,” Edens said. “I’ve been blessed to do a lot of things. I’ve coached college ball, a lot of high school, and been part of the rivalry as a coach and a player. I’ve been blessed to win some awards along the way … and I got to play college football. And, you know, when I look back, my favorite memory of playing football has gotta be threepeating Daniel Boone High School.”
This time of year, that Thursday night in September of 2002 is still fresh in Edens’ mind, particularly the second half.
“I think they got all of Travis Costner in that half – and Adam Jarrett – that they wanted for a lifetime,” Edens said. “Those guys just ran wild on ‘em in the second half. You could see on that other sideline just the absolute despair that was on their face – that we were gonna take that musket home, the one that hangs at David Crockett until this day. It’s been a point of pride my entire life – career as a player and a coach – to say we’re the ones that took that from ‘em.”