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TSSAA classification series, Part 4: Spring sports see changing landscapes

Douglas Fritz • Jun 30, 2017 at 7:30 AM

League schedules are going to look different when the 2017-18 school year arrives for area high school athletics.

This is Part 4 of a four-part series that will take a look at the new conference setups, and what Northeast Tennessee teams are facing in the TSSAA’s new alignment. When nearly all of the private schools moved to Division II, it caused a statewide change in the public-school division, even all the way down to the district level.

Part 4: Spring Sports

BASEBALL

District 1-A

University High, Unaka, Hampton

Cloudland, Sullivan North, North Greene

A very strong league added another sturdy part in Sullivan North, a former Class AAA state champion. This league could be a year-in, year-out dogfight.

Region outlook: Greenback is now in the mix, so area teams could have a heightened need to win the district title.

‘Boro dreams: Grace Christian is no longer in the picture, so the road seems less cluttered.

District 1-AA

Elizabethton, Happy Valley, Unicoi County, Johnson County

Sullivan East, Sullivan South, Sullivan Central

Sullivan Central had some good moments in its last venture in the Class AA ranks, so this league could be stronger.

Region outlook: It’s still the same teams at the top with Greeneville leading the way.

‘Boro dreams: Pigeon Forge is the biggest benefactor of Knox Catholic and CAK moving out of Class AA. The return of Corryton Gibbs from Class AAA creates another problem for District 1 state hopefuls.

District 1-AAA

Science Hill, Daniel Boone, David Crockett, Dobyns-Bennett

Tennessee High, Volunteer, Cherokee

It’s a little bit longer trip to Rogersville as opposed to Blountville for teams like Science Hill and Daniel Boone, but otherwise it’s the same league.

Region outlook: There could be a rough road through the region with the likes of Jefferson County and Morristown East on the scene.

‘Boro dreams: Knox Farragut is still there along with a host of capable teams year in and year out.

 

SOFTBALL

District 1-A

University High, Unaka, Hampton

Cloudland, Sullivan North, North Greene

North replaces South Greene, which shouldn’t cause any major league upheaval.

Region outlook: District 1 teams should have a sizable advantage over District 2.

‘Boro dreams: Meigs County is gone to Class AA while Grace Christian and Silverdale Academy are gone to Division II, and those are big changes. The road looks wide open.

District 1-AA

Elizabethton, Happy Valley, Unicoi County, Johnson County

Sullivan East, Sullivan South, Sullivan Central

This league has the potential to be even tougher than last year, adding an improved Sullivan Central program to the mix.

Region outlook: It’s still Greeneville and Grainger at the head of the class.

‘Boro dreams: Gone is two-time defending Class AA state champion CAK — finally — but area teams didn’t get much of a break. Defending Class AAA state champion Corryton Gibbs returns to the Class AA ranks, meaning area teams likely need to win the region to avoid the dreaded trip to Gibbs.

District 1-AAA

Science Hill, Daniel Boone, David Crockett, Dobyns-Bennett

Tennessee High, Volunteer, Cherokee

In softball more than other sports, Cherokee adds more of a challenging dimension in its move to District 1.

Region outlook: Morristown East is still the biggest problem at this level.

‘Boro dreams: With Gibbs out of the picture, the road is less fraught with danger. Knox Powell is among the chief threats.

 

SOCCER

Class A, District 1

University High, Happy Valley, Hampton

Chuckey-Doak, West Greene

Like the girls’ program, the University High boys have to like the subtraction of teams like Greeneville, Elizabethton and Sullivan South from the postseason equation.

TAKEAWAY

With CAK not in the sectional mix, UH will try to navigate programs like Alcoa in its bid to reach Murfreesboro.

Class AA, District 1

Elizabethton, Unicoi County, Sullivan South

Sullivan Central, Volunteer, Greeneville

Adding the defending Class A-AA state champion to a league immediately takes it to another level.

TAKEAWAY

Things get really tough at the regional level with Sevier County now in the mix. In fact, the region could be tougher than the sectional step.

Class AAA, District 1

Science Hill, Daniel Boone, David Crockett

Dobyns-Bennett, Tennessee High

Dropping Central and Volunteer made the league a little more compact.

TAKEAWAY

Knox Bearden makes District 2 a potentially tougher battle, although Sevier County — now in Class AA — is usually a tough out as well. It’s still Knox Farragut, Oak Ridge and Maryville at the sectional level.

 

BOYS AND GIRLS TENNIS

Small Division

From a regional standpoint, it’s a whole new world for District 1 and District 2 teams. Of the eight qualifiers for the region team tennis semifinals in boys and girls, none of them return to Region 1.

TAKEAWAY

Things get tougher at the sectional level with L&N STEM Academy and others.

Large Division

Elizabethton, Sullivan South and Unicoi County (District 1) must compete with powerhouses like Tennessee High, Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett. The same goes for Greeneville (District 2).

TAKEAWAY

Team success will be much less likely for the smaller schools moving up, but there may be an opportunity for individual standouts to battle through tough waters from time to time.

 

BOYS AND GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD

Small Division

More state opportunities are available for athletes from schools like University High and Happy Valley.

Large Division

Elizabethton, Unicoi County, Sullivan South, Sullivan East and others find themselves competing against the likes of Daniel Boone and Science Hill. It’s going to be tough.

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