Penalties are in place for high school athletes who get involved in a fight during a regular-season contest.
However, a recent situation in Chattanooga brought light to the fact the TSSAA doesn’t police offseason or preseason scrimmages.
The organization that governs high school athletics in the state recently accepted two high schools’ self-punishments because it said it has no jurisdiction over football workouts.
Signal Mountain and Soddy-Daisy were competing in a 7-on-7 tournament contest on July 16 when an on-field fight broke out, involving several players from both schools and at least one parent, according to a story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Because of the incident and the realization there are no mandatory penalties for preseason fighting, players might feel less restrained in heat-of-the-moment situations in scrimmages. However, one area coach said his school takes proactive steps during scrimmage competitions.
“We’ve been in 7-on-7 tournaments, and our coaches have stayed on that,” said Daniel Boone head football coach Jeremy Jenkins. “We make sure it’s one-hand touch, and if it gets out of hand we just take the kid out of the game.”
Jenkins said he talks to his players often about staying under control on the field.
“Yes we do, all the time, especially after last year when we had the episode between us and Sullivan South,” he said. “Anything that involves competition, we address (fighting).”
The TSSAA said its sportsmanship bylaws do not cover practices or summer workouts. Jenkins doesn’t think the TSSAA needs to extend its powers of control.
“I think they’ve got enough to do as it is,” he said. “If we decide to participate in something, we should be able to control our kids.”
The TSSAA accepted Soddy-Daisy’s proposal that includes a one-game suspension of the head coach and requirement that every player skip practice to help move furniture at the school for one day. However, the TSSAA said Signal Mountain didn’t address the seriousness of the situation.
n The Johnson City Press football edition will be published next week, but the first prep rankings of the season are ready to be released.
Of course, it’s all word of mouth right now. Here’s what coaches, fans and players are saying:
1. Greeneville — Until proven otherwise
2. Dobyns-Bennett — Tradition still matters
3. Science Hill — Getting stronger every day
4. Elizabethton — Standout QB, good talent mix
5. Daniel Boone — Always well-coached
6. Sullivan South — Interesting collection
7. Sullivan North — Always competitive
8. Happy Valley — Riding momentum from 2010
9. Tennessee High — New coach; darkhorse
10. Hampton — Tradition still matters
(tie) Johnson County — Always tough and scrappy
n In a very interesting scrimmage between defending Class 6A state champion Maryville and defending Class 4A champ Greeneville on Friday, the Rebels won. However, it was a very competitive 17-14 decision.
Staying that close to perennial powerhouse Maryville just gives Greeneville more validity as the No. 1 team at the top of the Northeast Tennessee rankings.
n Dobyns-Bennett offensive guard Ty Hayworth announced his college choice Friday. He will be playing ACC football for Wake Forest.
The 6-4, 305-pound senior chose the Demon Deacons over Cincinnati.
n Tri-Cities Christian will be plus-three this season.
The Blountville school has made the move from eight-man to 11-man football for the 2011 season. Travel costs was one of the biggest reasons for the move.
“Probably the biggest factor was the fact all of the teams that used to be in the east in our conference either dropped their program or went to 11-man,” said head coach Scott Allgood. “Our conference games would have been against teams from Nashville and Memphis, and we can’t afford a 600-mile round trip every time we play a conference game. Also, playing locally is where we need to be. We want to give students a local platform they can enjoy more, and it’s a better draw for the school.”
Eventually, Allgood said Tri-Cities could become a member of the TSSAA.
“That’s definitely in my vision,” he said. “We will try to give it about three years and see where we are.”
Tri-Cities played some 11-man games in recent seasons, so the transition won’t be a giant one.
“Football is football,” said Allgood. “The aspects are the same. We had played three or four 11-man games, and the toughest thing was switching back from 11 to eight and having the kids see the field with six less players out there. As long as we can stay with 11-man, the teaching time is the same.”
Tri-Cities has 23 players on the current roster, but Allgood expects that to grow before the season begins. He said the team is open to home-school kids who want to play.
Also, Tri-Cities has started a feeder program with elementary and middle school teams.
“If we can field 30 kids on the high school varsity, I think we can compete in the Class A world,” said Allgood.
Tri-Cities will open the season against North Greene. It also has games scheduled against King’s Academy, Oakdale, and Virginia schools Ervinton and Hurley.
The team will compete as an independent, but will get an opportunity to play in the National Association of Christian Athletes national tournament Nov. 7-11 in Nashville.
“We wanted to give our kids something to shoot for,” said Allgood, whose team will play nine regular-season games. “Teams come from all over the country, and there are three rounds of play in that week. It’s not a comprehensive tournament, but there are teams from Texas, Missouri, Florida and Illinois.”
Allgood said he has seven seniors on this year’s team, and being competitive is a realistic goal.
“I think so, if we stay healthy,” he said.
Top players include Josh Waldecker (C, NG), Brandon Jeter (FS, WR), Tucker Montgomery (OLB, RB) and quarterback Joe Saulsbury. Also, sophomore Evan Blankenship, who is from Clearwater, Fla., is expected to give the team a lift as a running back and inside linebacker.
n Happy Valley struggled through a tough baseball season with few wins in 2011. But better days appear to be on the horizon.
The Warriors have a new head coach in former East Tennessee State standout Caleb Moore, and extensive work is being done at Cannon-Gouge Park. Included in the mix are lights for the field.
“It’s a priority to get the lights up by next spring,” said Happy Valley athletic director Bernie Young. “There have been so many people who couldn’t get off work in time to see the games. I can’t tell you how many parents we’ve had like that in the past couple of years. This will definitely help the program to be able to play at night.”
Another improvement is renovation of the playing surface, including an irrigation system.
Moore, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Minnesota Twins in 2005, was a standout for ETSU at the plate and on the mound. During his junior season with the Bucs, Moore led the nation with a batting average of .455.
The 28-year-old Moore played three seasons in the Twins’ organization, trying to climb the ladder as a catcher and on the mound before finishing up in 2007.
“What makes him unique is he was a two-way player who caught and pitched,” said Young. “I think that will be huge for him as a coach. I look for the program to turn around quickly, not talking about wins and losses. Caleb brings a professional work ethic that will rub off on the players.”