Five classes for football could return

Douglas Fritz • Nov 5, 2012 at 9:03 PM

There have been some rumors the TSSAA would consider going back to a five-classification setup for football — sooner as opposed to later.

A 5-4 vote this summer left the setup with six classes for football and three for other sports. However, the Board of Control now has a vacancy, and that spot reportedly voted in favor of six classes.

There is speculation a new vote could be held when that spot is filled, possibly returning football to five classes. However, the likelihood of that happening before the 2013-14 school year isn't very high.

“That has been rumored, but is not likely,” said TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress. “The better chance would be at the end of the first two years when enrollments are reevaluated.”

Childress hinted at the possibility of a change when responding to the mess created by leaving Sullivan South out of this year's Class 5A playoffs because of a mistake, and then re-inserting the Rebels into a mid-state quadrant.

“(Situations such as that are) why we recommended to go back to five classes in football,” said Childress in an e-mail reply. “The six-class system magnifies these unfortunate incidents. It happened several times when we were in five classes, and no one probably paid any attention to it other than the schools in that particular region. When a school was removed for whatever reason, it was replaced by a school in that region.”

— — —

Small crowds for Friday's first-round football playoff games were a common sight in Northeast Tennessee, and there are several reasons for the low turnouts like the one for Johnson County's game at Elizabethton.

“I think the ticket prices as set by the state are too high,” said Cyclones' athletic director Mike Wilson. “At $8, a family of four has to pay $32. Understandably that has hurt attendance.

“I'm going to write a letter to the TSSAA, trying to get them to reconsider some of their policies on ticket pricing for the playoffs.”

One of Wilson's ideas is a graduated rate for playoff games. First- and second-round games could be $6, followed by $8 for the quarterfinals and semifinals.

“I don't think a first-round game should be $8 when third- and fourth-round games are $8,” said Wilson. “Why should people pay $8 to watch a one seed play an eight seed?”

Wilson said people want to see certain matchups in the playoffs.

“By the time it gets to the matchups people want to see, it's colder and people are out of money,” said Wilson. “It's easy to see a family of four spending $50 for a night of football and concessions. If they do that for two weeks, they're out $100. Then they have to consider whether to throw another $50 out there to see the matchup they wanted to see in the first place.”

— — —

Science Hill basketball guard Shy Copney suffered a knee injury during last season's Class AAA state tournament, but the Lady Hilltoppers' standout is making good progress on her way back.

“She's doing pretty good, but she's still limited in practice,” said Science Hill head coach Darrell Barnwell. “They will re-test the strength of the knee next week, and if all goes well she will start practicing more.”

Barnwell said the current time frame looks like Copney could return for the Hall of Champions games in two weeks, or the first game after the Thanksgiving break.

“Right now they are not planning on having her wear a brace at all,” said Barnwell. “It will be a matter of getting her legs back under her, and getting back into basketball shape.”

Science Hill is already in full stride as far as getting ready for the season. The Lady Hilltoppers — who finished as state runner-up last season with their lone loss coming against Murfreesboro Riverdale in the state finals — began practice last week and won all three of their scrimmages Saturday at William Blount.

This Saturday the Lady Hilltoppers will travel to Morganton, N.C., for the Super 24 preseason event. Science Hill will scrimmage perennial private school powerhouse Charlotte Providence Day, and also take on Charlotte Myers Park and Jacksonville (Fla.) Potter's House Christian.

— — —

It's basketball jamboree time, and Thursday is the big day for area schools.

The Big Eight Conference event will take place at both of Science Hill's gymnasiums.

In the old gym, David Crockett will take on Volunteer with the girls at 6 p.m. and the boys at 6:30. That will be followed by Sullivan South versus Tennessee High girls at 7 p.m. The boys play at 7:30.

In the new gym, Daniel Boone will play Sullivan Central (girls, 6:30; boys, 7) and Science Hill will go up against Dobyns-Bennett (girls, 7:30; boys, 8).

As for the Three Rivers Conference, its jamboree will be held at Elizabethton's Treadway Gymnasium. Cloudland and Hampton were invited to join the event this year.

“We knew they didn't have a jamboree, and we thought it would be good to have four quarters,” said Cyclones' athletic director Mike Wilson. “They were the logical people to invite, so we did it to round things out.”

First up will be Unicoi County versus Elizabethton at 5:30 in a girls contest. That will be followed at 6 o'clock by a boys' game between the Blue Devils and Cyclones.

Happy Valley will take on Johnson County with girls at 6:30 and boys at 7.

That's followed by Sullivan North versus Cloudland (girls, 7:30; boys, 8) and Sullivan East against Hampton (girls, 8:30, boys, 9).

— — —

Prep signings: Science Hill baseball standout Will Craig will make his college choice official next week.

The Hilltoppers' senior pitcher and infielder will sign with Wake Forest on Nov. 14.

— — —

Dobyns-Bennett head football coach Graham Clark was honored last week as the Tennessee Titans high school coach of the week.

Clark's team pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat rival Science Hill 37-34 in a battle of previously undefeated teams.

Titans' owner K.S. “Bud” Adams made a $1,000 contribution from the Titans Foundation to D-B's football program. Also, Clark will be the Titans' guest when they play Jacksonville on Dec. 30 in Nashville. He will also be a finalist for coach of the year honors.

The program is in its 13th season, and Adams has awarded more than $159,000 to football programs across the state.

— — —

Science Hill's total of 508 points set a new school record for a season. The Hilltoppers averaged 46.2 points per game.

Dobyns-Bennett needs just 46 points to post a top-10 all-time finish. Christian Academy of Knoxville scored 628 points last season to take the No. 10 spot.

The record is Greeneville's total of 748 in 2010.

Here are the top 15 teams in scoring across the state (through Week 11):

Team Class Pts

1. Dobyns-Bennett 6A 582

2. CAK 3A 532

3. Lexington 4A 525

4. Cheatham County 3A 522

5. Science Hill 6A 508

6. Knoxville Fulton 4A 491

7. Giles County 4A 488

8. DeKalb County 4A 481

9. Murf. Siegel 6A 474

10. Greeneville 4A 469

11. Covington 4A 465

12. Maryville 6A 464

13. East Hamilton 4A 452

14. Trinity Christian 2A 442

15. Henry County 5A 439

— — —

Soccer update: Brentwood won the Class AAA state title, defeating Murfreesboro Siegel 1-0 in Saturday's championship in Chattanooga.

It was the second state title for Brentwood (18-2-1) in girls soccer, and its first since 1997.

In Class A-AA, Christ Presbyterian Academy won the championship, stopping favorite Christian Academy of Knoxville 1-0 in the finals. It was the first state title for CPA (21-2-2) in girls soccer.

— — —

Football playoff odds:

Class 6A — Dobyns-Bennett by 13 over Sevier County; Maryville by 14 over Oak Ridge.

The Indians have struggled in the second round in each of the last two seasons, but that could be motivation enough to avoid overlooking a Sevier County team they whipped by 30 points in Week 3.

Class 5A — Morristown West by 3 over Tennessee High, Knox Powell by 6 over Knox West.

The Vikings surprised Daniel Boone, and may have a shot at bumping the Trojans as well. Things are looking brighter for second-year head coach Shane Boggs.

Class 4A — Greeneville by 2 over Knox Fulton; Livingston Academy by 2 over DeKalb County.

The Greene Devils are two-time defending state champions, but Fulton has a tradition, too, playing for the Class 3A state title five times from 2002-07, and winning three championships.

Class 3A — Elizabethton by 10 over Gatlinburg-Pittman; Sullivan North by 14 over West Greene.

When Elizabethton met Pittman in the 2010 state quarterfinals, it was a tight 32-28 decision in favor of the Cyclones. It could be another close one this time around.

Meanwhile, West Greene is coming off its first-ever playoff victory, but the Buffaloes will be hard-pressed to make it two in a row.

Class A — Coalfield by 22 over Cloudland; Greenback by 15 over Copper Basin.

Coalfield was 34 points better than Cloudland in a Week 1 shutout. The Highlanders should close the gap a little this time, but not five touchdowns worth.

— — —

Pick of the Week — Elizabethton 28, Gatlinburg-Pittman 20.

The Cyclones' ground game is a tough beast to stop, which is why Elizabethton enters with a nine-game winning streak.

Picks record: 11-1.

— — —

Player of the week — Devaun Swafford of Dobyns-Bennett.

Leading his team to a 35-7 win over Knox Bearden in the opening round of the TSSAA Class 6A playoffs, Swafford found the end zone four times.

He scored on runs of 30, 7 and 2 yards while also adding a 43-yard touchdown reception. Swafford finished with 160 yards of total offense, 110 on the ground and 50 receiving.

Defensively, Swafford thwarted three Bearden scoring opportunities with a fumble recovery in the end zone, an interception in the end zone, and a pass break-up in the end zone.

— — —

The Hogs Award — Elizabethton Cyclones.

Controlling the line of scrimmage, the Cyclo Hogs paved the way for 284 yards rushing on 31 carries, an average of 9.2 per attempt.

The pass protection was rock solid, allowing 75 percent completions (3 of 4).

— — —

Defensive unit of the week — Tennessee High Vikings.

After allowing 37 points in their first meeting, the Vikings held Daniel Boone down in a 28-7 win in the Class 5A playoffs.

The Vikings picked off two passes, had a 21-yard blocked punt return for a touchdown, and held Boone to 79 yards rushing on 31 attempts for just 2.5 yards per carry.

— — —

This Week in Prep History — November 1, 1991.

Cloudland standout running back Tim Clipse rushed for 216 yards and four touchdowns in his team's 39-6 whipping of Cosby.

Recommended for You

    Johnson City Press Videos