Dandridge, TENN. (WATE) – With their backs against the wall to open the season, Jefferson County found their fight.
“We didn’t complain, we didn’t yell at each, we stayed together, and we knew we could come out with a win,” said running back Kris Hawkins.
The Patriots overcame a 21-point deficit, scoring 32 unanswered in their furious Week 1 comeback against Sevier County.
“At halftime, we had 66 yards total offense,” head coach Spencer Riley stated.
The VFL won the 1998 National Championship pushing people around as Tennessee’s center. His Pats did the same, carving up running lanes for Hawkins. The senior rolled up 199 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns, better numbers than his entire junior year.
“Man that was amazing,” recalls senior Jaylon Haney, a defensive end for Jefferson County and Hawkins’ cousin. “I’ve seen it for years, but to go out and show the people that, that’s what’s up.”
“He was hurt as a sophomore and a junior, and no one really knew about him,” says Riley. “And that was fine, but now I want people to start paying attention.”
After missing all but one game as a Junior, Hawkins’ is focused on staying healthy.. even if his diet is anything but.
“I eat a lot of fast food. I love Pal’s,” he laughs. “Double Big Pal with cheese, two large french fries.”
Hawkins estimates he eats at the east Tennessee staple ten times a month.
“I’m glad I don’t eat Pal’s 10 times a month, or I’d be as big as a house, and I’m not a small guy to begin with” says Riley. “But Pal’s is some good eats up this way.”
“We’re trying to get some weight on him,” adds Haney. “But with his metabolism, he can’t get it. Pal’s, McDonald’s. That 2-for-$5 Big Mac, that’s all him.”
Whatever he’s eating, it’s working. Riley says at 500 pounds, Hawkins is the strongest squatter on the team. But you won’t hear the camera shy halfback hype himself up.
“No matter what, we always gonna be humble,” admits Haney. “That’s Kris. That’s 18.”
“I love my team, they got my back, and I got theirs. I’d die for them, I really would.”