It’s Kickoff Week for high school football.
At this point, everybody has visions of winning games they may not actually win. And, of course, some teams will win games they might not have expected to win.
There are many factors involved with how far teams can carry their dreams, like injuries or turnovers. But it’s always fun to speculate on what teams can get done.
So here’s one look at what Northeast Tennessee teams are predicted to do in 2014. Just consider it a gut-instinct high school picks for the entire regular season. There’s no reason to project playoff performances at this point because the matchups are unknown:
Big Seven Conference
Science Hill (9-1) — This is going out on a limb a little bit. The Hilltoppers should be able to handle the Big Seven Conference foes — yes, the Dobyns-Bennett game is never a given — but getting to 9-1 means winning two of three from Murfreesboro Siegel, Brentwood Academy and the Indians.
It’s all going to come down to defense for the Hilltoppers, who should be able to score with just about anybody.
Dobyns-Bennett (8-2) — The Indians will be up against it three times in their first four games, and a 2-2 record wouldn’t be a shame.
Daniel Boone (5-5) — It’s going to take some work to get to .500 with the schedule the Trailblazers face. As things stand now, they look like underdogs in six games.
David Crockett (5-5) — If the Pioneers can make it through a tough early three-game stretch with their confidence intact, a strong finish could get them back in the playoff mix.
Tennessee High (6-4) — The Vikings look like team that could go either way: maybe as high as 8-2, or even down to 5-5.
Three Rivers Conference
Elizabethton (9-1) — To get to this point, the Cyclones would have to beat either Science Hill or Sullivan South. Both are very big challenges, but both games are at home.
Sullivan South (9-1) — The Rebels will be heavily favored in almost every game they play in the regular season. The Week 10 matchup against Elizabethton could be only their third real challenge of the season.
Happy Valley (6-4) — Yes, this will be a challenging number of wins for the Warriors to reach. But it is realistic if they win two of their three 50-50 games.
Johnson County (5-5) — The Longhorns face a pretty tough schedule, and even getting to five wins will take some work.
Unicoi County (4-6) — It’s certainly reasonable for the Blue Devils to exceed this record, but it’s also possible things could go the other way. Their first two games could spell things out for the rest of the season.
Mountain East Conference
Cloudland (9-1) — The Highlanders are primed for a big season.
Hampton (8-2) — It’s always difficult to beat the Bulldogs, who have some business to take care of before they can peek at Week 10 and Cloudland.
Unaka (3-7) — There are some 50-50 games that could lift the Rangers to a better finish.
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Science Hill has added a pair of assistant coaches in basketball, and both are known in the community.
Joe McPherson, who led University High to the Class A state tournament back in the late 1980s, will be an assistant coach for Ken Cutlip this season. On the girls side, former East Tennessee State player Latisha Belcher will be on Keith Turner’s staff.
“Joe helped us for a number of years with the eighth grade team,” said Turner, who is also Science Hill’s athletic director. “He didn’t coach last year, but when we lost Ryan Collins (to Morristown East) he was able to fill that position. And you know (McPherson’s) resume.”
Not many schools have the ability to pluck a former successful high school head coach from the middle school ranks.
“We’re fortunate to have that luxury,” said Turner. “He was a successful coach with state tournament experience. He has been a counselor at Science Hill for several years, and has great relationships with the kids. He knows Ken’s style, so it should be a really smooth transition.”
Belcher played for the Lady Bucs from 2006-11. She also played overseas in Malta, and also coached some there after her playing career. She will be the ninth-grade girls coach, and also help with the varsity.
“It was great for us,” said Turner. “We lost Tiffany Collins, who was outstanding. To be able to get Latisha — someone who had to work extremely hard her whole career, and someone who was motivated to go overseas and play — I just think she will be a great role model for our girls. She just jumped in and started working with the girls, and they responded really well.”
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Alcoa is taking on a rare challenge for high school football. The Tornadoes will play Smith County in their season opener Thursday, and then will go head to head with Morristown East on Saturday.
Topping things off, the next game will be Aug. 29 against perennial powerhouse Maryville.
Head coach Gary Rankin told the Maryville Daily Times he will try not to play any of his kids more than the equivalent of one full game in this week’s contests. Rankin said Alcoa was “desperate” because of the difficulty of finding games, and wanted his team have 10 contests on the schedule.
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Tennessee High has a new wrestling coach as Tim Marshall has taken over the program. He was formerly an assistant coach with the Vikings, and holds a masters degree from Milligan College.
Last year with a large group of underclassmen, the Vikings earned regional runner-up and top 20 finish in the state tournament.comments powered by Disqus