Indians Ambush Cougars 7-1, Take Regular Season Title

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Indians Ambush Cougars 7-1, Take Regular Season Title
BLOUNTVILLE -- Dobyns-Bennett struck quickly offensively and smothered Sullivan Central's best players with its defense Friday and made short work of what was expected to be a close game.

The Indians got two goals from David Geno in the first seven minutes of play and a career-best four goals from the talented sophomore and went on to beat the Cougars, 7-1, and wrap up the District I soccer title with one conference game remaining.

"To come out and win the district title was one of our goals,'' said first-year coach Shane Calvert. "I'm not sure how many others thought we could do it, but these guys believed it all along. We really came through as a team. This team has the best chemistry of any team I have been around.''

The Indians were picked fourth in preseason -- behind Science Hill, Sullivan South and Central.

Eric Hammonds, who is one of three returning starters, said being picked fourth in preseason served as a catalyst to help the team play well.

"When we saw that,'' said Hammonds, who had a goal in Friday's game, "we wanted to go out and prove people wrong.''

D-B is now 5-0 with a game remaining against Sullivan South. That game has been moved to Friday night. The No. 10-ranked Indians are now 12-0-3 and next play Elizabethton on Thursday.

"We knew we had good players and a strong bench,'' said Geno, "so we thought we'd be better than what they were saying.''

As for his effort Friday?

"It was a good day,'' said Geno.

Geno, Hammonds and Bryce Herlong were the only returning starters. That fact and a new coach made others skeptical.

Central's Brent Baker admitted he was still skeptical going in Friday night.

"I guess we underestimated them,'' said Baker, a King College signee. "But they're a great team. I thought what they did in that South Carolina tournament was a fluke, but they're for real.''

"When we were down early 2-0 or 3-0, I knew it would be hard to come back,'' said Central coach Eric Freeman, whose team is now 7-5 and 3-2 in Big 9 play. "They attacked so quickly. One thing we couldn't match was their height.

"We talked before the game about how they would get up on Bennett (Becker). I didn't think they'd play Kenneth Long that way, too, but they did. I thought there were some no-calls a couple times when our guys got roughed up, but that didn't change the outcome.''

D-B played physical and tried to deny the two goal leaders for Central the ball and succeeded, to a large degree. But Becker got loose long enough to score the only Central goal in the second half off an assist from Austin Culbertson.

"Central really played well in the second half,'' said Calvert. "We outscored them 2-1 in the second half, but both our goals came after they bunched everyone up front trying to score goals.''

In addition to Geno's two early goals -- one on a penalty kick just five minutes in and the other on a breakaway, Hammonds knocked home a goal in the 20th minute off an assist from Dany Clark to make it 3-0. Colton Clark then scored in the 29th minute off an assist from Craig Mitcham, and Geno made it a three-goal first half with a goal that came with an assist from Brad Davidson in the 38th minute of the first half.

Leading 5-0 at halftime, D-B went into a defensive mode -- trying to keep Central out of goal -- but got offensive again after Becker's goal with 21 minutes remaining.

Geno took a pass from Mitcham and shot it through the top of the goal to make it 6-1 in the 72nd minute and Chase Givens added the final goal with five minutes remaining off an assist from Christian Morales.

The D-B players gave Calvert an ice bath with 2:50 showing on the clock and the scoreboard showing the Indians up by six.

"This will help them because now they will get a bye in the tournament and will get an extra day of rest,'' said Freeman. "But we're still in good position. We're still the No. 3 seed. We've got six games left and we like our position in the tournament.''

The only remaining District I game will be against Daniel Boone on Tuesday. The Cougars play a makeup games against Virginia High at noon Saturday at home.

Here is scoring from Friday's game:

Dobyns-Bennett 7, Sullivan Central 1

First Half

D-B -- David Geno, penalty kick, 5th minute, D-B 1-0
D-B -- David Gene, breakaway, 7th minute, D-B 2-0
D-B -- Eric Hammonds, assist Danny Clark, 20th minute, D-B 3-0
D-B -- Colton Clark, assist Craig Mitcham, 29th minute, D-B 4-0
D-B -- David Geno, assist Brad Davidson, 38trh minute, D-B 5-0

Second Half
SC -- Bennett Becker, assist Austin Culbertson, 59th minute, D-B 5-1
D-B -- David Geno, assist Craig Mitcham, 72nd minute, D-B 6-1
D-B -- Chase Givens, assist Christian Morales, 75th minute, D-B 7-1
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