Each week the state football rankings, compiled and distributed by the Associated Press, are voted on by sports writers.
Sometimes it becomes territorial as writers rank their local teams a few spots higher than they deserve. Other times it becomes laughable as writers blatantly rank a team No. 1 in an attempt to push them up in the rankings.
Yes, this has happened locally but has not been done by the Johnson City Press.
The Press has pushed for accountability among statewide voters, but to this point votes are still anonymous. In an attempt to be transparent, here’s a look at this week’s vote in the state poll by the Johnson City Press (please note that many of the ranking numbers in this column will differ from the results listed on today’s scoreboard page):
Class 6A — Being undefeated and the defending state champion is a difficult thing to ignore when casting the No. 1 vote, and that’s why Memphis Whitehaven holds our vote for the top spot. Factored into the equation is the memory of 420 yards rushing against Maryville in last year’s state title game.
Oakland (No. 2) and Blackman (No. 3) were moved ahead of Maryville (No. 4) based on the impressive mid-state look provided to our area by Siegel’s destruction of Science Hill. It wasn’t quite enough to move Siegel (No. 5) past Maryville, even though the Star’s losses were to Oakland and Blackman.
Overton, Sevier County, Station Camp and Ravenwood were slotted ahead of Science Hill (No. 10) as the Hilltoppers barely stayed in the rankings ahead of Germantown Houston and Franklin.
Class 5A — Things are wide open in 5A this season, so much so that Class 4A Greeneville head coach Caine Ballard said recently, “I wish I was in Class 5A this year.” His statement was more about 4A’s strength than anything else, but it doesn’t appear 5A has even one loaded team.
The Press gave its vote this week to Anderson County while acknowledging No. 2 Henry County’s Week 1 win over defending champion Hendersonville Beech looks mighty good on the resume.
Ooltewah (No. 3) jumped into the Press’ rankings with its win over East Hamilton (No. 6). The Owls also played Siegel a closer game than Science Hill was able to muster.
Cleveland was No. 4 while Knox West (No. 7) was followed by Tennessee High, Memphis Ridgeway and Millington.
Class 4A — It doesn’t take rocket science to rank this loaded classification although the Knoxville News-Sentinel seemed to take umbrage with the fact Knox Fulton wasn’t getting everybody’s No. 1 vote.
While the Falcons are the defending champion and undefeated (see aforementioned Whitehaven), the Press has been siding with Greeneville at No. 1. The Greene Devils are one year removed from back-to-back state titles and also unbeaten. Yes, Fulton smacked the Greene Devils silly (42-14) in last year’s playoffs. However, Greeneville did worse to Fulton in 2010-11, winning playoff games by a combined score of 77-0.
Rounding out the top 10: No. 3 Sullivan South, followed by Knox Catholic, Elizabethton, Signal Mountain, Lexington, Giles County, Dyersburg and Pearl-Cohn.
Signal Mountain is the darkhorse title threat in that group.
Class 3A — There’s not much to see here, folks. Elizabethton might have had a legitimate path to a state title if it was still in 3A this year, but the Cyclones are tasked with the mountain that is Class 4A.
Most signs are pointing toward a title-game matchup between Christ Presbyterian Academy (No. 1) and Alcoa (No. 2).
Following Fairview (No. 3) were Upperman, Notre Dame, Polk County, No. 7 Sullivan North, Martin Westview, Christian Academy of Knoxville, and Lipscomb Academy.
Class 2A — There’s a consensus at No. 1 with Grace Christian, but Trousdale County is a close No. 2.
Trinity Christian Academy (No. 3) could be in the mix with those teams. The best of the rest is Adamsville, Marion County, Peabody, Silverdale Baptist Academy, Huntingdon, Oneida and Halls.
Class 1A — Cloudland is getting some first-place love, but the Press has the Highlanders slotted at No. 5.
The reason? The Highlanders haven’t made any real postseason noise since 2001.
Also, Cloudland’s wins over bigger schools like Happy Valley, Johnson County and Cosby aren’t the type of names that will turn heads across the state. Unfortunately for Cloudland, it will be Week 10 before the Highlanders get such an opponent, and even Hampton is unranked in Class 2A.
So it appears the Highlanders will have to wait until the playoffs and beat Greenback (No. 4) or Coalfield (No. 9) to earn some real statewide respect.
Humboldt, which moved from Class 2A down to Class 1A this season, is No. 1, followed by South Pittsburg and Dresden. Columbia Academy is No. 6, followed by Nashville Christian School and Union City with Clarksville Academy at No. 10.
Follow Douglas Fritz on Twitter @FritzBlitzzz.
Science Hill’s football team fell out of the top spot in the state’s scoring leaders.
The Hilltoppers (52.5 points per game) are behind Knox Fulton (55.6) and Upperman (55.3).
Soccer update: Elizabethton and University High will match up once again today at Rider Field, beginning at 6 p.m.
The teams met earlier this month with the Lady Junior Bucs pulling off a 2-0 home victory. The Lady Cyclones (5-7 overall) are 1-2 in conference play, having split a pair of games with Sullivan South.
University High is 1-1 in the conference, having lost on the road to the Lady Rebels and facing a rematch on Oct. 1 at home.
Football games of the week: Brentwood Academy at Science Hill, Sullivan South at Daniel Boone, Dobyns-Bennett at Ooltewah, Elizabethton at Tennessee High.
Eagles vs. Hilltoppers — Both teams will be pretty desperate for a win as the Eagles are trying to end a three-game skid while the Hilltoppers need to erase short-term memory of a 64-38 loss to Murfreesboro Siegel.
Being a mid-state team and a 10-time state champion, Brentwood should have the Hilltoppers’ attention — even though the Eagles have only one state title in the last 17 years.
Rebels vs. Trailblazers — After opening the season with a pair of victories against tough opponents, South has been on easy street with a 149-7 total margin of victory in its last three contests. Boone, which has won three straight since get whipped by Elizabethton, is hoping to provide opposition with a lot more bite.
Indians vs. Owls — The Indians need to know only two scores to realize how tough this task will be: 58-47 and 28-26. The former is Ooltewah’s close loss to Siegel, and the latter is the Owls’ win over East Hamilton — which defeated D-B earlier this season.
Cyclones vs. Vikings — If someone was picking an over-under for this game, the bar would probably start at 56 (four touchdowns each) and move up from there.
Tennessee High is No. 4 in the state in scoring at 47.5 points per game while the Cyclones are No. 15 at 42.8. That’s a combined average of 90 points per game, but the two teams defenses have combined to allow just 30 per contest.
Pick of the Week — Sullivan South 27, Daniel Boone 20.
The Rebels do a lot of good things offensively, and should be able to make a few more big plays than the Trailblazers.
Picks record: 5-0.
Player of the week — Austin Whitehead of Cloudland.
Could it be the legend of Mark Byrd reborn? The Highlanders’ sophomore quarterback won his second straight player of the week honor by amassing over 400 all-purpose yards.
Whitehead carried 35 times for 319 yards and scored three touchdowns. He threw for 70 yards and a touchdown, and also returned an interception 38 yards for another score — giving him 427 all-purpose yards and very similar numbers to the best offered by Byrd, who led Cloudland to the Class A state championship game in 2001.
The Hogs Award — Cloudland Highlanders.
It was a ground-level assault by the Highlanders in a 45-21 dismissing of Unaka.
The “Cloud Hogs” rolled over the Rangers defense for 506 yards rushing on 62 attempts, an average of 8.2 yards per carry.
Defensive unit of the week — Happy Valley Warriors.
In a case of history repeating itself (see This Week in Prep History), the Warriors’ defense came up with a big play at the end of the game to secure a tight win over rival Johnson County.
Defensive back Stephen Barnette tipped away a pass intended for Greg Roark in the end zone on the game’s final play to secure a 6-0 win for Happy Valley.
The Warriors got the shutout while also picking off two passes and recovering a fumble.
This Week in Prep History — September 20, 2002.
Happy Valley’s defense came to the rescue in a 7-6 win over rival Johnson County. With six seconds remaining in the contest, the Warriors stuffed Longhorns’ running back Jonah Dunn on a 2-point conversion attempt to seal the win.
The Warriors also surrendered just 78 yards rushing on 41 attempts.
There was only one change in this week’s Prep Top 10 as Sullivan South used a blowout win over Unicoi County to edge past Science Hill for the No. 2 spot.
Team W-L Prv
1. Greeneville 4-0 1
2. Sullivan South 5-0 3
3. Science Hill 3-1 2
4. Elizabethton 3-1 4
5. Dobyns-Bennett 3-2 5
6. Tennessee High 3-1 6
7. Daniel Boone 3-1 7
8. Cloudland 5-0 8
9. Sullivan North 3-2 9
10. Hampton 2-2 10