Oak Ridge will play for a state football championship this Friday.
The Wildcats (11-3) beat South Doyle 14-0 this past Friday in a semifinal game to advance to the state final for the first time since 2005.
Oak Ridge will now play Summit (13-1) of Spring Hill in the Blue Cross Bowl Class 5A state championship at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Wildcats scored early in the first quarter against South Doyle (10-4) on Blankenship Field last Friday after a fumble recovery by Jacob Berven. Oak Ridge senior quarterback Mitchell Gibbons rolled right and threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Cole Adams, who was able to push past two South Doyle defenders and reach his right arm into the end zone near the right pylon.
Oak Ridge did not score again until about midway through the fourth quarter. Gibbons, who led the team in rushing, ran up the left side of the field 37 yards for a touchdown.
Neither team had much success running the football and both were held to about 200 yards or less total offense. The Wildcats had 31 yards rushing and 151 total yards, while the Cherokees had 45 yards rushing and 202 total yards.
The Oak Ridge defense had seven tackles for loss and five sacks against South Doyle on Friday, according to preliminary statistics by Mark and Shawna Haste. Berven, who had the fumble recovery that led to the first score, led the defense with seven tackles and six assists. Wildcats senior Preston Turner had an interception in the final two minutes of the game when South Doyle was in Oak Ridge territory.
Mitchell finished 14-of-26 for 120 yards, one interception, and the one rushing touchdown and one scoring pass.
Oak Ridge started this season 2-3, but then won eight straight games and had a COVID win (against Fulton) to advance to the state championship game. The defense has had five shutouts.
The Wildcats beat Soddy Daisy 30-7, Rhea County 23-0, and West 31-28 in their three other playoff games.
Summit, which is playing for its first state title in a repeat visit to the state championship game, beat Henry County 35-21 in the other Class 5A semifinal game this past Friday.
The Spartans, whose junior quarterback Destin Wade is a Class 5A Mr. Football finalist, had four of their 10 regular season games canceled because opponents had COVID-19 outbreaks.
The last time Oak Ridge won a state championship was in 1991.
The Wildcats last played for a state championship in 2005, when they lost to Ravenwood 14-7.
Summit was defeated by Central 30-7 in last year’s Class 5A state championship game.