Yes, times are changing in Jonesborough.
But can Crockett continue its early season momentum as it plays host to Corryton Gibbs? Kickoff is set for Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Highlighting the schedule mix are Johnson County at Sullivan Central, Volunteer visiting Sullivan East, Sullivan South playing host to Gate City, and Unicoi County traveling to meet Happy Valley.
The Pioneers haven’t solved the Gibbs riddle, losing to the Eagles in the 2016 playoffs and also suffering a tough one-point loss in the regular season last year in Corryton.
Crockett has outscored its opponents 104-14 in three wins, but head coach Hayden Chandley said his team isn’t getting the big head.
“Humble and hungry,” said Chandley. “That’s what we’ve been preaching to our kids, making sure we stay dialed in from week to week and focusing on being the best team in the stadium when we take the field Friday night. That’s our only focus.”
Gibbs, which is 0-2 after losses to tough opponents Austin-East and South Doyle, will challenge the Pioneers with a strong running game.
“Gibbs brings a rushing attack like we haven’t seen thus far,” said Chandley. “They line up in their flexbone formation and try to mash you. They pound the fullback, and once they have the defense keying on him, their quarterback will keep it and get around the edge.”
Crockett counters with an offense led by quarterback Cade Larkins, running back Ronquille Joyner and receiver John Kollie.
With Central’s 32-game losing streak, which includes three losses to Johnson County, this could be a game the Longhorns take for granted.
That might be a mistake because quarterback Jackson Harrison has helped the Cougars stay competitive in their first two games — a 10-point loss to unbeaten Sullivan North and a two-point heartbreaker against Chuckey-Doak. Plus, the Cougars have had two weeks to prepare thanks to last week’s bye.
East has been blanked twice, and Volunteer is coming off a shutout loss. But both teams can probably count on more offense in this matchup.
In their last two meetings they have combined for 87 and 61 points, respectively. East won both games, and is riding a three-game winning streak in the series.
The Rebels have bounced back nicely after a season-opening loss to Daniel Boone, scoring 93 points in their last two games.
South will be a strong favorite as the Blue Devils have lost 13 of their last 14 games. They also have seven straight losses against the Rebels, although the last three games have been one-score decisions.
There are two distinctly different moods for these teams. Unicoi is feeling pretty good after its first 3-0 start in at least two decades.
The Warriors are 0-2 after a pair of shining seasons, but they haven’t lost to Unicoi County since 2013. And the last two head-to-head meetings, 62-0 and 33-13, haven’t been close.
The Raiders will try to extend their season-starting win streak to four games as they visit Chuckey-Doak. North is favored, but the Black Knights put a 42-14 whipping on the Raiders last year on North’s home field.
The winless Chiefs hit the road, but won’t find any sympathy from Seymour. The Eagles are 1-2 and hungry for wins after last year’s 0-10 finish.
Defense has been Cherokee’s biggest problem, allowing 134 points in three games.
A season-opening loss put the Bulldogs on the edge of another tough season, but back-to-back wins over rivals has them in a different mindset.
Things get much tougher this week as Gatlinburg-Pittman rolls into town. The Highlanders are 2-1 against a tough schedule, and whipped Hampton last year, 45-20.
A week off prior to a rivalry game is not a bad thing, and the Highlanders should be plenty ready for the border bash against Avery County, North Carolina.
The last five games have been good ones. Cloudland won a 46-32 shootout last year, and the previous margins were one, seven, six and six points.
It has been a nice start to the season for the Rangers, who won by eight points and lost by two. And it would be especially encouraging if they were competitive in this one as Midway enters with a perfect 3-0 slate, having allowed just 19 points in three games.