It may be TSSAA’s dead weeks, but excitement is alive and well for Science Hill’s football program.
However, there is a catch.
“I see the skill level, all over the place,” said Hilltoppers head coach Stacy Carter. “We’ve got a lot of playmakers. And the size I’ve never seen. We’ve got big kids. But there’s nothing to replace experience. The players we have need to get playing time under their belts.”
Carter saw it played out in real time during the spring football scrimmage against Sevier County in May. The Smoky Bears left the field feeling pretty good about themselves.
“They got after us good,” said Carter. “They will be a really tough team. They had a lot of people back from last year, and we went on the road and didn’t play well.
“We beat them like a dog last year, and then they went out and won 10 games. I hope we have a season this year like they did last year. I feel good about our season, but we’ve got to get experience.”
Included in the getting-experience mix is junior Malik McGue, who will have a new position behind center and also line up other places.
“I think he’s the best player from here to Knoxville, for what he can do in high school,” said Carter. “What he can do is amazing. He looks like (Malik) Foreman and (Devaun) Swafford from D-B last year.”
Dead weeks end Sunday, and Science Hill will burst right into things Monday. On the schedule are installation of the offensive, the usual weight-room work, and a 7-on-7 scrimmage at the end of the week.
Science Hill isn’t big on the 7-on-7 events, and doesn’t travel to play in the weekend tournaments. The Hilltoppers will match up against local teams like Cocke County, Unicoi County, Sullivan North and Virginia High.
“We’ve got so many kids playing basketball and other stuff,” said Carter. “For a school as big as we are, we have so many multi-sport players. It’s hard to go to the 7-on-7 weekends.”
Science Hill has plenty of time to get ready for its opener this year. The Hilltoppers don’t play Week Zero, and their first game isn’t until Aug. 30 at home against Elizabethton.
“I think that will help us,” said Carter. “And this year we will actually get some two-a-days before we start school.”
Science Hill will scrimmage Greeneville during Week Zero.
With the calendar turning to July, the 2013-14 season is almost ready to take flight.
Golf teams will be able to begin practice Monday, and can start official competition on July 22.
Football, girls soccer, volleyball and cross country teams can begin practice July 29.
During the recent TSSAA Board of Control meeting, a couple of changes were made.
The Board voted to make the length of the basketball coaching box 14 feet, expanding from the previous size of six feet. This should be a welcome relief to the more active coaches like Science Hill’s Ken Cutlip and Sullivan East’s John Dyer.
However, it should also be pointed out referees in Northeast Tennessee generally ignored the six-foot box as long as the coaches were reasonably under control.
In another move, the Board voted to make an exception for the 2013 football calendar. From the end of the dead period to Aug. 1, 15 days of practice will be permitted, 10 of which may involved practice with another school.
Helmets and shoulder pads may be worn beginning July 22. Individuals must practice in helmets and shoulder pads for a minimum of three days prior to practicing in full pads.
Carter said it’s not a big change, but a good one.
“The only thing that really changed was getting three days in shoulder pads and helmets,” said Carter. “It’s smart. It gets the kids acclimated to the weather, and gives them a little time to build up.”
The exception will be presented to the Legislative Council to be considered for an permanent change to the calendar.