A handful of football squads are still chasing state championship dreams, but basketball teams hit the hardwood this week for Hall of Champions contests.
Season play doesn’t officially start until Nov. 21, but most area teams will get a jump on things. It’s a chance to sneak preview the season with the lights on and fans in the seats in a regulation game, even though the TSSAA pockets the profits.
Science Hill gets under way Thursday when it travels to Maryville to take on William Blount in a Hall of Champions game at 7:30 p.m. The Hilltoppers may not be physically ready to tip things off as their three seniors — Hunter Leveau, Zach Howard and Buddy Gosey — are not medically cleared to practice or play. Gosey could miss the season because of a meniscus injury.
Hilltoppers’ head coach Ken Cutlip said he expected to have three football players join practice Monday. That would give him five of his eight varsity-only players, and three days preparation time for the game against the Governors.
Science Hill will also be involved in the 10th annual Hall of Champions tournament this weekend at Shoun Gym in Mountain City. Friday’s schedule has Johnson County playing Avery County, N.C., at 6, followed at 7:30 by Knox Bearden taking on Elizabethton. Then at 9 o’clock, Johnson County will return to the court to play Holston, Va.
Saturday’s games start at 4:30 p.m. with Chuckey-Doak battling Bearden. At 6 p.m. Avery County plays Bearden, and at 7:30, Elizabethton takes on Science Hill. The 9 p.m. game matches Johnson County against Science Hill.
Here’s a capsule look at the other area teams participating in Hall of Champions games:
Daniel Boone will have three days of Hall of Champions contests, running Thursday through Saturday. Involved in the boys and girls event are the Trailblazers, Science Hill, Elizabethton, David Crockett, Tennessee High, Unaka, North Greene, Morristown West, Sullivan Central and Gate City, Va. …
David Crockett will play host for girls HOC games Thursday and Saturday with Crockett, Unaka, Johnson County and Happy Valley participating. …
Dobyns-Bennett will play at Knox Central on Thursday. …
Sullivan East, Cloudland, David Crockett and Tri-Cities Christian will play at the Patriots’ home gym on Thursday and Saturday. …
Unaka plays at Sullivan South on Saturday. …
Tennessee High plays host for HOC games on Thursday and Saturday with Sullivan Central, Happy Valley, Hampton, Volunteer and South Greene involved. …
Sullivan South plays at Unicoi County on Thursday. …
University High plays host to West Greene on Thursday and J. Frank White on Friday. …
Volunteer will be at home for HOC games Friday and Saturday with Unicoi County, Virginia High, Morristown East and Cocke County involved.
The annual Johnson City Press basketball edition is scheduled to be published in Thursday’s edition.
n Here’s a look at who is favored and by how much in this week’s quarterfinal-round football playoff games.
Class 6A — Maryville by 19 over Sevier County, Riverdale by 12 over Oak Ridge.
Class 5A — Knox West by 3 over Morristown West, Powell by 21 over Lenoir City.
Class 4A — Greeneville by 13 over Knox Fulton, Giles County by 10 over Marshall County.
Class 3A — Austin-East by 6 over Sullivan North, Alcoa by 1 over Christian Academy of Knoxville.
Class 2A — Oliver Springs by 14 over Oneida, Boyd Buchanan by 3 over Friendship Christian.
Class 1A — South Pittsburg by 3 over Coalfield, Eagleville by 4 over Gordonsville.
n The TSSAA announced its Mr. Football finalists last week, and Northeast Tennessee got a few looks.
Greeneville had two players chosen for the Class AA lineman: Jamel Hall and Terrell Rollins. West Greene’s Dalton Boles is a finalist for Class AA back.
Winners in each division will be announced Nov. 28 at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center in Murfreesboro.
n Stat chat: Jacob Jasper became Sullivan North’s third 1,000-yard rusher this season in Friday’s 48-41 Class 3A playoff win over Chuckey-Doak.
Jasper, a freshman running back, joined junior running back Kairi Thompson and junior quarterback Cory Rowe as members of the 1,000-yard club. It may the first time an area team has ever had three players reach that level in the same season.
n Final pick of the week record: 12-1, a .923 correct percentage.
n Player of the week — Jacob Jasper of Sullivan North.
In a wild 48-41 victory over lively Chuckey-Doak, Jasper scored three touchdowns — including two in the fourth quarter to help rally his team from a 41-33 deficit.
Jasper carried 13 times for 148 yards, and also caught a 77-yard touchdown pass to pull North within one point, 41-40 in the fourth quarter. His 26-yard scoring run put his team ahead for good.
n The Hogs Award — Chuckey-Doak Black Knights.
It was a good old-fashioned run-fest against the Raiders, and the “Knights of Hog” made plenty of room for the runners. Doak racked up an astonishing 495 yards rushing on 59 attempts, an average of 8.4 yards per carry in the losing cause.
n Defensive unit of the week — Greeneville Greene Devils.
Strawberry Plains Carter had little chance against the “Greene D” in a 77-7 Class 4A playoff punishment.
Greeneville held the Hornets to 103 yards of total offense and just over two yards per rushing attempt.
Greeneville picked off four passes, forced 11 incompletions in 21 attempts, and cornered Carter into four punts.
n This Week in Prep History — Nov. 8, 1997.
Daniel Boone earned its first ever playoff victory, a 28-19 upset of Morristown West in a Class 4A contest on the road.
A 15-play, 94-yard fourth-quarter drive capped the upset win. Brandon Meade carried the last seven plays of that drive, scoring with 1:10. Boone went for a 2-point conversion and got it to seal the win.