Don’t believe your eyes.
For the 2020 high school football season, the simple idiom, “take it with a grain of salt,” can easily be applied.
In a normal year, especially in football, what you see is mostly what you get. But with some teams starting late, others beginning on time, practices disrupted, and a potential season of schedule changes, this year could actually make less sense as it goes.
Consider this from the mid-state area, Cannon County’s game against White County was canceled Wednesday because of a positive COVID test. The next day, Cannon County was able to secure a matchup against Walker Valley, which saw its Week 1 game against Knox Karns disappear.
Cannon County prepared throughout the preseason to face White County, but at the last minute had to draw up a game plan for Walker Valley. For the record, Walker Valley defeated Cannon County, 39-0.
These last-minute changes are particularly difficult for football teams. Some could be worse than others. For example, if a team prepares all week for a spread offense, and then at the last minute it has one day to formulate a defensive game plan for the wing-T, that seems like a coach’s nightmare.
Yes, the good teams are still going to be good. But upsets and surprising margins will likely be more commonplace this season.
And that leads us to a not-so educated guess for …
THE TOP 10
It’s neck and neck at the top between Dobyns-Bennett and Elizabethton.
1. Elizabethton 1-0
2. Dobyns-Bennett 1-0
3. Science Hill 0-1
4. David Crockett 0-1
5. Daniel Boone 0-1
6. Sullivan South 0-0
7. Cherokee 1-0
8. Sullivan Central 1-0
9. Sullivan East 1-0
10. Hampton 0-0
GAMES OF THE WEEK
David Crockett at Science Hill — Last year the Pioneers earned their first-ever win over the Hilltoppers, and it came in dominating fashion with a 62-34 blowout.
Coming off a 22-point loss to rival Elizabethton last week, Science Hill enters with double motivation to turn the tables. Crockett lost the first 13 meetings in a rivalry that went silent for 28 years (1981-2008).
Dobyns-Bennett at Oak Ridge — Talk about a tight series. The Wildcats lead 22-21. And over the last 19 years, neither team has put together more than a two-game winning streak. The Indians won big last year, 41-6.
Daniel Boone at Greeneville — This is an interesting matchup where one team has played a game and enjoyed a mostly uninterrupted preseason (Boone) while the other will hit the Friday night field the first time and also missed practices because of the pandemic. Being at home should help the Greene Devils level some of that discrepancy.
Sullivan South at Cherokee — The Rebels missed their rival game with Boone last week, and face a hot team as the Chiefs are coming off a 48-0 win. The last three games in this series have been exciting, decided by a total 16 points. Also, 161 total points were racked up over the last two meetings, wins for Cherokee by scores 32-30 and 55-44.
Volunteer at Sullivan Central — The Falcons have won seven of the last eight games against the Cougars, but they were forced out of action last week while Central pounded North. This could be a high-scoring battle.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Science Hill 27, David Crockett 20
The Hilltoppers have a lot to prove after their opening-week misfire against Elizabethton.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Bryson Rollins, Elizabethton
The junior quarterback connected on 11 of 16 passes for 231 yards and three scores as the Cyclones rolled past Science Hill, 30-8.
He also carried 16 times for 80 yards.
THE HOGS AWARD
Sullivan Central Cougars
In an encouraging opener, the Cougars’ big guys provided plenty of pass protection. The Cougar Hogs gave quarterback Will Nottingham enough time for 244 yards passing. They also kept the ground game moving in a 26-8 win over rival Sullivan North.
DEFENSIVE UNIT OF THE WEEK
It was an evening of defensive dominance in D-B’s 35-0 whipping of Tennessee High.
The Tribe defenders didn’t budge all night, allowing only 45 yards of total offense.