When word spread Wednesday that Red Bank quarterback Madox Wilkey had sustained a broken thumb in practice the day before, coach Chris Brown said there was a period of numbness around his Lions. By practice that afternoon, Brown knew quickly that numbness had been replaced by toughness.
“We’re tough — that’s who we are,” Brown said Friday night. “I knew we would rally around Madox and carry him just like he has carried us this year.”
With a hard plastic cast encasing the thumb on his throwing hand, Wilkey led the unbeaten Lions to a 24-21 win over Sequatchie County on Friday and into the quarterfinals of the TSSAA Class 3A playoffs. The Lions will take on another undefeated team, Upperman, next Friday on the road.
“I thought it was jammed or maybe a deep-tissue bruise,” said Wilkey, who broke the thumb against a teammate’s helmet. “But there was no way I was going to let that stop me. No way.”
He didn’t. Wilkey marched his team down the field on its first possession, completing three of five passes, including a 2-yard score to junior receiver Lucas Brown. For the night, Wilkey was 10-of-24 for 139 yards and the one touchdown.
“He had to be hurting,” said Brown, now 11-0 in his first season.
Wilkey got strong support from sophomore running back Lumiere Strickland, who ran for 137 yards on 18 carries and scored on a 59-yard run that helped the Lions hold a 14-6 lead going into halftime. In addition, senior all-purpose athlete Calvin Jackson, a 2018 TSSAA Mr. Football semifinalist, had 67 yards rushing, 59 yards receiving — including a spectacular, one-handed catch along the sideline — and scored Red Bank’s final touchdown on a 25-yard run midway through the third quarter.
“We’re tough, we’re athletic and we’re disciplined,” Brown said. “What has happened this year started when the guys started buying into a new culture early in the year, and it has just built from there.”
With the game in the balance early in the fourth quarter, Wilkey led the Lions on a 64-yard, 17-play drive that took nine minutes off the clock. He completed three passes for 46 yards on the drive.
After Wilkey’s early touchdown pass, Sequatchie County answered quickly thanks to quarterback Colin Hudson, who broke away for 71 yards on the drive’s second play to set up a first down at the Red Bank 2-yard line. Hudson then scored on the first play of the second quarter. The kick failed, and the Lions led 7-6.
Hudson, who doubles as a standout on defense, accounted for 188 of the Indians’ 261 offensive yards while scoring two rushing touchdowns and throwing for another.
Sequatchie County ended its first season under coach Mark Wattenbarger at 8-4. The run-oriented Indians scored their final points of the 2018 season with eight seconds left in the game.
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