Note: This story was last updated at 11 a.m.
Oak Ridge Coach Joe Gaddis got his 300th win as a football coach during a 42-6 win over Clinton on Friday.
Gaddis is only the seventh football coach in Tennessee to get 300 career wins, and he is one of only two active coaches with 300 wins, Oak Ridge school officials said. Gary Rankin of Alcoa is the other. Rankin was the first in Tennessee to win 400 games, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported in September.
Fans and players, parents and coaches, and students and school officials celebrated Gaddis’ milestone 300th win with a brief ceremony on Blankenship Field on Friday that included fireworks and photos, and signs and a football painted with the number 300 that was presented to Gaddis.
More than half of Gaddis’ wins have been at Oak Ridge, where he is 162-36. Gaddis first coached at Oak Ridge for 11 seasons, from 1988 to 1998, and he is in his fifth season back, after returning in 2013.
“I’m coaching at the best place there is to coach,” Gaddis said. “This is just a special place.”
Among the ingredients necessary for his success have been longevity, great players and great coaches, and administrative support, Gaddis said.
But that 300th win wasn’t on his mind before the rivalry game with Clinton, one of the last three region games remaining during the regular season.
“This was not even on the radar,” Gaddis said. “It just was not important.”
Word had gotten around well before the Friday night game that Gaddis would pick up his 300th win if the Wildcats (6-2, 4-0 Region 3-5A) beat the Dragons (2-6, 0-4).
After the Oak Ridge victory, Gaddis did take a few minutes to enjoy the celebration with the community, Oak Ridge High School Athletic Director Mike Mullins, and ORHS Principal Martin McDonald.
Gaddis said the Oak Ridge defense played very well on Friday, except for one long run they gave up. That allowed Clinton its one touchdown about three minutes into the third quarter.
The Oak Ridge offense was not as consistent, Gaddis said. The Wildcats had a few decent drives, but they squandered a few drives when they had a short field, he said.
“We had some opportunities to score, and we didn’t take advantage of them,” he said.
Gaddis said Clinton has a good defense, but the Dragons’ offense has struggled this year. And the Oak Ridge defense is good, Gaddis said.
Oak Ridge had 217 yards at halftime Friday and led 28-0 after two quarters, when Clinton had -10 yards offense.
The Wildcats held Clinton to 32 yards total offense through four quarters, compared to 305 yards for Oak Ridge, and Clinton had only two first downs by rushing or passing. Oak Ridge junior Jeremy Mitchell had three sacks against Clinton, and junior Herbert Booker had one, plus an interception.
Penalties hurt both teams. Clinton had 10 penalties total, losing 90 yards, while Oak Ridge had nine for 92 yards lost.
In its next region game, the Wildcats will play the Panthers (5-3, 2-3) at Powell next Friday.
Gaddis said he hasn’t had a chance to study Powell yet, but they are probably the most improved team on Oak Ridge’s schedule. The Panthers have good talent, and the highlights he’s seen have been good, Gaddis said.
Gaddis is in his 35th season as head coach, and he’s been coaching for 44 years.
He replaced former Coach Scott Blade, who resigned to accept a position in Williamson County, in Oak Ridge in 2013. At that time, Gaddis had an overall 258-112 record in his 30 years as head coach.
His 162-36 record at Oak Ridge is the best in the school’s history. Gaddis led the Wildcats to the Class AAA state championship in 1991.
Gaddis is 43-12 since 2013, when he came back to Oak Ridge: 7-4 in 2013, 12-1 in 2014, 10-2 in 2015, 8-3 in 2016, and 6-2 so far in 2017.
The Wildcats were undefeated in District 3-AAA (8-0) and during the regular season (10-0) in 2014, when Gaddis was named district coach of the year, and in Region 3-5A in 2016 (5-0). They made it to the Class 5A quarterfinals in 2014, when they lost to Rhea County 35-21.
Gaddis is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, and he has also previously coached at Peabody High School in Trenton, Tennessee. He has also coached in Henry County, Tennessee, and held coaching positions in Alabama, Mississippi, and North Carolina.
Against Clinton on Friday, Oak Ridge scored on its opening 10-play drive on a 21-yard pass from senior quarterback Johnny Stewart to Mitchell, a wide receiver.
Two possessions later, the Wildcats added another touchdown on a four-play drive that ended with a 25-yard pass to senior wide receiver Caleb Martin, who angled into the right side of the end zone with about two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Wildcats scored again two possessions later, this time on a handoff to sophomore Tyrell Romano (nine carries, 44 yards), who ran the ball in from five yards out after a 42-yard punt return by Martin. Oak Ridge was up 21-0 at 9:29 in the second quarter.
The final Oak Ridge score of the first half came after the Wildcats recovered a Clinton fumble on a punt return at midfield. Oak Ridge then went backwards 25 yards on holding and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
But the Wildcats scored on a third-and-38 on a 78-yard pass from Stewart, who was scrambling, to Martin, who broke a tackle in the middle of the field, stayed on his feet, and spun over to the right sideline, where he ran up the field and into the end zone as Mitchell, a blocker, trailed him. The Wildcats led 28-0 with 31.8 seconds left in the first half.
Gaddis praised Martin’s effort on that touchdown play. Martin led receivers with three catches for 126 yards and the two touchdowns.
The first touchdown of the second half was a defensive touchdown for Oak Ridge. On its first drive of the the quarter, Clinton freshman quarterback Nathan Murphy handed off to junior Andrew Shoopman, who was intercepted by Wildcats junior defensive lineman TJ Johnson on a pass in the backfield. Johnson ran straight into the end zone from 24 yards out for an Oak Ridge score, giving the Wildcats a 35-0 lead at 11:41 in the third quarter.
But the Dragons answered on their next possession, a three-play drive that ended with an 86-yard run by junior Josh Breeden who ran up the right sideline with a diving Oak Ridge defender just a few steps behind him. The two-point conversion attempt was no good, and the score was 35-6 in favor of the Wildcats about three minutes into the third quarter.
Stewart, who threw for 183 yards and three touchdowns, tacked on the final score for Oak Ridge midway through the third quarter. He scrambled right, evaded a defender, and ran upfield with senior lineman Ramar Hawkins helping to block near the right sideline. After a 17-yard carry, Stewart bowled over Clinton junior Isiah Washington at the goal line for the touchdown.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See preliminary game statistics by Mark and Shawna Haste here.
See preliminary rushing stats here.
See preliminary passing stats here.
See preliminary receiving stats here.
See preliminary tackling stats here.
— Myles Hebrard (@myleshebrard) October 14, 2017
— Myles Hebrard (@myleshebrard) October 14, 2017
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