Alcoa passes first test
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alcoa City Schools went back to class a month ago, but Saturday night was the real entry exam for Gary Rankin’s Alcoa football team.
Give the Tornadoes a passing grade. But not by much.
Alcoa did as much homework as it could preparing for Webb School and its Wing-T.
Rankin’s squad slowed down the Spartans run game enough, and got just enough from its own run game — a mixture of Ezekial Koko, Jaquez Tyson, Jarod Crenshaw and Malik Love — for the 14-7 win in a first-day-of-school pop quiz on a schedule that has no shortage of tests.
The classroom prep amps up this week — try advanced physics — when Alcoa turns its focus to a road trip in Six Mile Series, facing Maryville for Sunday’s noon kickoff on ESPN2. The Rebels moved their win streak to 30-straight games with a 41-17 win over Cleveland in the opening game of the Kickoff Classic Saturday at Alcoa.
Webb went 9-3 a year ago before losing to University School of Jackson in the Division II A state semifinals — and expectations are no less, if not more, for a run to Cookeville this season after it’s showing Saturday night.
It’s hard to imagine Alcoa didn’t look past Webb, at least some, to next’s week game. Both teams calender revolves around the Six Mile Series.
The Spartans gave Alcoa a quick wake up call, though.
Webb stopped Alcoa four times inside the 10 yard line on Alcoa’s first drive of the game. All the Spartans did in response was go 99 yards for a score. Alcoa responded, but Webb held its own and then some at the line of scrimmage. A much bigger response will be needed Sunday at Maryville.
“They’re not easy to ready for,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said. “They do such a great job on offense. We don’t see the Wing-T. You can show it in practice all you want to but the speed is different.
“I give them all the credit, I thought they played their butts off.”
Looking past Maryville — something no one inside the Alcoa city limits has done since last August — shows a mid-semester exam in week three against another state semifinalist in Austin-East. A-E is down from last year, when the Roadrunners’ end of the road came at CAK in Class 3A’s final four. It won’t be a gimme, though, coming of the district-opener the week before against Loudon.
Consider Greeneville on September 23 Alcoa’s mid-term. All Greeneville did last year was win the 4A state title.
The Greene Devils, also down from last year’s championship team, lost in week zero at Science Hill. But a trip to Greeneville is never any kind of breather.
The schedule’s final exam needs no introduction — CAK in the final week of the season will be a big-time factor in determining playoff seed, if not being an outright district championship game.
CAK, behind quarterback Charlie High and wide receiver Josh Smith, blitzed Anderson County 76-45 Friday night — that’s neither a typo nor a basketball score.
All High did was throw for 493 yards and seven touchdowns. Oh yeah, he ran for 64 yards and another score. Smith had three first-quarter touchdown catches. He finished the night with six total scores after another touchdown catch and two kick returns taken back to the house.
Alcoa may have survived the first day of football school Saturday, but the syllabus isn’t letting up anytime soon.
Grant RAmey is a sports writer at The Daily Times. He can be reached at grantr@thedailytimes. You can follow him on Twitter @grantramey (http://www.twitter.com) /grantramey).