Derek Hunt piloted Maryville back to the top of the mountain in his first season as head coach.
The Rebels cruised to a 42-7 victory over Cane Ridge on Friday in the BlueCross Bowl at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium to win the Class 6A state championship, the 17th in program history — 16 TSSAA state championships and an AP state championship in 1964 — breaking a tie with Alcoa for the most of any program in the state.
Maryville (14-1) had not won a state championship since 2014, basically an eternity for a program that won 12 titles in 18 years under Tennessee coaching legend George Quarles, who now coaches at Furman.
Although it is his first championship as head coach, it is Hunt’s ninth with Maryville, winning four as a player and four as an assistant before taking the helm.
The Rebels put the game away before halftime, scoring three touchdowns in a six minute, 31 second span to push their lead to 28-0 before the intermission.
Sophomore running back Tee Hodge started the spurt with a two-yard touchdown run, and Trace Parris copied that result on Maryville’s next drive. Michael Buchanan capped the first-half scoring with a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
The Rebels tacked on with their opening drive of the second half, as senior quarterback Dylan Hopkins connected with senior tight end Blake Watson for an 18-yard touchdown pass that issued a running clock and an expedited celebration.
Hopkins, a UAB commit, was named Offensive MVP after completing 11 of his 18 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 90 yards on eight carries.
While impossible to follow in the steps of a predecessor like Quarles, Hunt’s tenure is off to a better start. Quarles finished his first season with a 10-3 record and was bounced from the playoffs in the quarterfinals.
In other words, the Maryville dynasty does not seem to be coming to an end anytime soon.