Sometimes there are things to be learned by watching a football jamboree.
While it is possible to sometimes get a false read, it still means a little something when players put on their uniforms, the lights are on, officials are at their best/worst — and perhaps most importantly, a tally is kept on the scoreboard. For any player in full gear and school colors, pride should be a motivating factor.
High school football season officially kicks off Thursday — including David Crockett playing host to Sullivan East, and Johnson County traveling to play Tennessee High — but here is a team-by-team look at what appeared to be happening during last week's dress rehearsals (with an assist from Press Sports Writer Trey Williams):
Big Seven Conference
Science Hill — There's no denying the Hilltoppers' offensive capabilities, but just like in other recent seasons the defense has something to prove. Getting to the championship level will likely require better performances on that side of the ball.
Dobyns-Bennett — Perhaps it's not a typical Indians' team as there seems to be some speed issues. However, the Indians might be able to get the ball down the field in the air, and possess a pair of receivers who can go get the ball.
Daniel Boone — Never underestimate a Jeremy Jenkins-coached team, but the Trailblazers may not be able to impose their will with the power running game as well as they have done in recent years — at least not against really good defensive teams. Inexperience could be a hindrance to a quick start.
David Crockett — Spirit and enthusiasm are evident on the sideline and on the field, but there is still much proving to do — especially on offense. It seems like the Pioneers are on the right track.
Tennessee High — The Vikings are a threat to score at any point in the opponents' territory. The Peyton Henley-Adam Mitchell combination could provide headaches all season for opponents.
Volunteer — A definite bright spot: running back Maliek Carpenter has outstanding speed. He raced 70 yards against the Vikings and nobody was gaining on him.
Sullivan Central — There is nothing new to report from a league standpoint. The Cougars will be up against the wall.
Three Rivers Conference
Sullivan South — The Rebels pulled no punches against Elizabethton, and their mindset should remain that way all season. Whether South is talented enough to dominate the Three Rivers Conference remains to be seen, but the Rebels appear poised, confident and solid.
Elizabethton — Defense has been a major concern during the preseason for the Cyclones. From the looks of things, Elizabethton may have to outscore people if it wants to have a shot at the league title.
Happy Valley — There was a lot to like about the Warriors, and freshman Austin Hicks could thrive in Larry Shively's system. Happy Valley looks like a team that could score some points this season.
Johnson County — It looks like a typical Mike Atwood team, which means the Longhorns should be competitive against just about anybody they play.
Unicoi County — Head coach Jerad Huskins may not get enough credit for the work he does with the Blue Devils. Even though Elizabethton didn't play its top players, Unicoi looked sharp, well-coached, and ready for the season to start.
Sullivan North — It was hard to get a read on this bunch, but there still appears to be some good offensive weapons. The Raiders could surprise a few folks.
Sullivan East — Size and strength could be issues for the Patriots this season. Offensively, someone needs to step up as a playmaker.
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Nashville Ensworth is the only team from Tennessee listed in the Student Sports Fab 50 national football rankings.
Ensworth, the three-time defending Division II Class AA champion, was slotted at No. 20. The Tigers have won 21 straight games, and also 35 of their last 36 contests.
How good is Ensworth this season? In a scrimmage with Maryville on Aug. 9, the Tigers scored three first-half touchdowns while Maryville didn't record a first down in its first five possessions. Maryville, a Class 6A school, has appeared in nine consecutive state championship games, winning six times.
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Cross country season gets off to a running start as the TC/Twilight 2-Miler will be held today at Daniel Boone.
The girls' race begins at 6 p.m. while the boys are scheduled for a 6:30 start.
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Soccer starters: Science Hill gets under way tonight at 7 o'clock as the Lady Hilltoppers play host to Volunteer.
David Crockett also begins its season today as it travels to battle Cocke County. The Lady Pioneers play host to Tennessee High at Grandview Elementary on Thursday.
Daniel Boone opens on the road against Dobyns-Bennett, and travels to play Cherokee on Thursday. ...
In Class AA, Elizabethton started Monday at Dobyns-Bennett. The Lady Cyclones will travel to face West Greene on Thursday.
University High visits Chuckey-Doak on Thursday.
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Volleyball beginnings: Science Hill opened its season Monday at home against Sullivan South. The Lady Hilltoppers will be back in action today as they travel to take on Daniel Boone for the Lady Trailblazers' season opener. On Thursday, Science Hill returns home to battle Volunteer.
David Crockett begins its season today at home against Sullivan Central. The Lady Pioneers are also at home Thursday against Tennessee High. ...
Elizabethton plays host to Volunteer today while Unicoi County is at home to go up against Sullivan North.
Unicoi travels to meet Daniel Boone on Wednesday.
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Golf season continues to roll along. Science Hill's boys have already played in the Morristown Invitational, finishing second and just one stroke behind champion Knox Halls.
The Hilltoppers lost to Dobyns-Bennett on Thursday at Cattails, and played Volunteer at Silver Lake on Monday. Science Hill plays host to Daniel Boone today at Pine Oaks.