4A football appears to be loaded for playoffs

Douglas Fritz • Sep 9, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Moving out of Class 3A may have seemed like a good thing for Elizabethton, even though the Cyclones were moving up to 4A for football playoff purposes.After all, who wouldn’t want to say goodbye to Alcoa and Christian Academy of Knoxville? At least one of them has won a state championship for nine straight years.However, 2013 probably isn’t the best year to move to Class 4A. In fact, just winning a game or two in the playoffs could be a major challenge as Quadrant 1 could house all of the classification’s top four ranked teams in the state: Knox Fulton, Greeneville, Sullivan South and Knox Catholic — along with another top 10 team in Elizabethton.Talk about an overload in an eight-team quadrant.It starts locally with South and Elizabethton. The Rebels are ranked No. 3 while the Cyclones are No. 8. Both are seriously good and definitely worthy of their ranking.Adding to the mix, it’s almost a certainty both No. 1-ranked Fulton and No. 2 Greeneville will be in Quadrant 1. The only scenario to kick Fulton to Quadrant 2 would be for eight of the nine teams this side of Knoxville to make the playoffs — including Unicoi County, Sullivan East, Claiborne, Grainger and Carter.Also, there’s a decent chance fourth-ranked Knox Catholic will be in the Quadrant 1 mix. It only takes three of the 10 teams this side of Catholic on the state map missing the playoffs to push the Irish to Quadrant 1 — and two of those three teams, Sullivan East and Union County, didn’t win a single game last season and are each off to 1-2 starts this year.There’s not much room for sway, either. There are 12 Class 4A teams in districts 1 through 4 with eight spots available. However, there is a small disclaimer as the TSSAA sometimes likes to play “pretend locations” and move teams into a different quadrant with such statements as “(Enter team name) is closer to the interstate than (enter team name).”Any way it’s sliced, Quadrant 1 looks like a perilous journey for all teams involved and could be the toughest one to navigate in any classification across the state.———Follow Douglas Fritz on Twitter @FritzBlitzzz.———Science Hill’s 90-21 rout of David Crockett last week left it with a two-game total of 130 points, putting the Hilltoppers on a likely unsustainable pace of 65.5 points per contest.However, it puts the Hilltoppers in the Greeneville conversation. The Greene Devils scored a state record 748 points in 2010.Just to put in perspective what the 130 points in two games means, Science Hill would need just 11½ games to break Greeneville’s record at its current pace.Science Hill’s next opponent, Morristown West, has served up 83 points in its last two games combined.———Cross country update: The Bluegrass Cross Country Festival will be held Saturday at Mountain Home in Johnson City.Varsity girls start at 8 o’clock while the boys follow with an 8:40 a.m. start. Included in the meet are runners from Science Hill on the boys and girls sides. Also scheduled to compete are teams from Elizabethton, Greeneville, Tennessee High, West Greene and Myers Park, N.C.———Golf update: Area teams are setting a course for postseason play as the District 1-A/AA event will be held Monday at Elizabethton golf course.Sullivan South is a heavy favorite to win the tournament. The top three teams from the district will qualify for the region, which is set for Sept. 23 at Elizabethton. …Science Hill has an important match scheduled for Thursday. The Hilltoppers will go up against Dobyns-Bennett at Johnson City Country Club.The Indians figure to be Science Hill’s toughest challenge when the postseason arrives on Sept. 23 with the District 1-AAA tournament at Bristol Country Club.———Soccer update: Daniel Boone is off to a nice start this season, but the Lady Trailblazers will have their hands full tonight as they travel to face Science Hill at Tipton Stadium beginning at 7 o’clock.Boone is 5-1 on the season with an 0-1 mark in the Big Seven Conference. The Lady Hilltoppers are 2-4 on the season, having lost each of their last four games.However, even though Science Hill lost those games a combined margin of 27-1, the combined record of the opponents (Hendersonville, Father Ryan, Franklin and Greeneville) is 23-4-1. Also, Science Hill is 2-0 in league play.———Science Hill has joined forces with Five Guys Burgers and Fries to reward student athletes on a weekly basis.The first Student Athlete of the Week award winner will be announced Wednesday at Science Hill at 3 p.m.Each week an athlete will be chosen from a list of nominees submitted by Science Hill coaches and voted on by the school’s administrative staff. Winners will receive an engraved plaque, a meal at Five Guys, and their name will be placed on a permanent plaque displayed at the school.“This is an outstanding program that provides recognition to our student athletes who dedicate incredible time and effort in competing for our school,” said Science Hill athletic director Keith Turner.———Football games of the week: Science Hill at Morristown West, Sevier County at Dobyns-Bennett, Hampton at Happy Valley, Cloudland at Johnson County.Hilltoppers vs. Trojans — With the schedule difficulty increasing in the coming weeks, this is an important momentum-building opportunity for Science Hill.Smoky Bears vs. Indians — It has been a nice little long-distance rivalry, but this time D-B enters as a home underdog.Bulldogs vs. Warriors — This could be a turning-point game for Happy Valley while Hampton seeks to build on last week’s momentum.Highlanders vs. Longhorns — It has been an impressive start to the season for Cloudland, but this is a serious test.———Pick of the Week — Science Hill 64, Morristown West 27.The Hilltoppers show no signs of slowing down on offense.Picks record: 3-0.———Player of the week — Malik McGue of Science Hill.In half a game’s worth of work, the junior quarterback put up some massive numbers. In a 90-21 destruction of David Crockett, McGue totaled 337 all-purpose yards.He carried eight times for 267 yards and completed 2 of 3 passes for 35 yards. He rushed for five touchdowns and passed for another.———The Hogs Award — Science Hill Hilltoppers.The Hill Hogs spent a couple hours making pancakes in a 90-21 blasting of David Crockett.They bush-hogged the Pioneers’ defense for 580 yards rushing on just 30 carries, for a Hogs Award-record 19.3 yards per attempt.Also, the Hill Hogs pass protected at 75 percent efficiency with three completions in four attempts.———Defensive unit of the week — Sullivan South Rebels.It was a heavy dose of you’re-not-moving-in-this-direction defense by the Rebels. Happy Valley ran 44 plays and 20 of them went for no gain or a loss. South allowed just 24 yards of total offense, an average of just over one-half yard per play.The Rebels forced eight punts, recovered two fumbles, and returned one of them 29 yards for a score. They also finished with six quarterback sacks.———Prep spotlight: Area coaches can submit standout performances for girls soccer, volleyball, cross country and golf to dfritz@johnsoncitypress.com.Deadline is Sunday at midnight.———This Week in Prep History — September 8, 2000.Sullivan East’s Wes Morris pushed his team to the brink of victory, but the Patriots lost 20-19 to Virginia High. Morris carried 26 times for 232 yards and scored all three of his team’s touchdowns in the second quarter.———The top seven spots remain solid in this week’s Prep Top 10.Team W-L Prv1. Greeneville 2-0 12. Science Hill 2-0 23. Sullivan South 3-0 34. Dobyns-Bennett 2-1 45. Elizabethton 2-1 56. Tennessee High 1-1 67. Sullivan North 2-1 78. Daniel Boone 2-1 99. Cloudland 3-0 1010. David Crockett 2-1 8

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