The countdown is on to high school football
By Grant Ramey | (email@example.com)
Exactly 235 days ago Maryville’s try at a Class 6A state championship three-peat came up a point short against Whitehaven.
It’s been 250 days since Alcoa was two points shy of district rival Christian Academy of Knoxville in the Class 3A quarterfinal round. The same number of days applies to Greenback, another quarterfinal round casualty, this one by three points to Coalfield in Class 1A.
And it’s been 271 days since William Blount and Heritage both had seasons come to an end short of qualifying for the playoffs — the Govs with an emotional Senior Night upset of Farragut, Heritage with a loss at Knox West.
But all those results will gladly be forgotten by the five teams involved in 30 days, when the 2013 high school football season kicks off with Week 0 games on Aug. 23.
Here are 30 points, looking both forward and back, to prime prep football fans for another run on the road to Cookeville:
30: Maryville travels to Alcoa on Aug. 30. No further explanation necessary.
29: Full pads can come on for the first time on July 29, officially starting prep training camps across the state.
28: Heritage scored a combined 28 points over the final five games of the 2012 season. The Mountaineers will have to find offensive production to continue Tim Hammontree’s rebuilding project.
27: Logan Winders, T.J. Kimble and Cody Carroll combined to catch 27 touchdowns last year. The bad news? Winders and Kimble graduated. The good news? Carroll, the Rebels’ TD reception leader a year ago with 13, is back.
26: For the first time since 2003, neither Alcoa nor Maryville brought home a state title in 2012. If one of the two win a gold ball in 2013, it would be the 26th title between the two teams. Maryville holds a 13-12 advantage.
25: Alcoa plays hosts to Nashville’s Maplewood High School — a 7-5 Class 4A playoff team in 2012 — on Oct. 25, squeezed between a rivalry rematch against CAK and the season finale against new district opponent Knoxville Catholic.
24: On Aug. 24 of last year, William Blount rallied for 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to turn a 20-10 deficit into a 30-20 win at Central. The momentum didn’t carry over, though, as the Govs lost six of their next seven before the Senior Night win over Farragut.
23: Justin Ridge turned the Greenback football program into a state title contender in four years leading the ‘Kees. Now the William Blount grad will try to do the same at his alma mater, starting with his first game as the Govs’ new head coach, on the road against Loudon on Aug. 23.
22: Maryville tailbak Shawn Prevo ran for 22 touchdowns as a junior in 2012. What’s on the horizon for the talented Rebel runner in his senior season?
21: Maryville reeled off 21-consecutive points to turn a 24-21 deficit into a 42-24 win over Alcoa last year in front of a nationally-televised ESPN2 audience.
20: Heritage and William Blount renew their cross-county rivalry on Sept. 20 at William Blount. Can Heritage and second-year coach Tim Hammontree turn the tables on the Govs and first-year coach Justin Ridge?
19: A loss at South Doyle to start the season would extend Heritage’s losing streak to 19 games, dating back to a 38-24 win over Hardin Valley on Aug. 26, 2011.
18: Alcoa plays host to CAK on Oct. 18, with the District 4-AA will most certainly on the line. Alcoa got the best of CAK in last year’s regular season finale. The playoffs, for the second year in a row, went in favor of the eventual Class 3A state champion CAK.
17: Peyton Wall led Alcoa to an average of just under 17 yards per completed pass last season. Wall returns in 2013 to continue the evolution of Gary Rankin’s traditionally run-heavy offense.
16: Running back Trenton Shuler (10) and quarterback Nick Myers (6) combined for 16 Maryville rushing touchdowns a year ago. Can Jaylen Burgess (27 attempts, 116 yards and one touchdown in 2012) help fill the production lost in the Rebel backfield alongside Shawn Prevo?
15: In 15 games in 2012, Maryville scored 40 or more points 10 times. Before lighting up the scoreboard in 2013, the Rebels need to find a quarterback — either Tyler Vaught or John Garrett — to be the catalyst in George Quarles’ high-powered playbook.
14: Defense is as much a tradition as state titles at Alcoa. Under defensive coordinator Brian Nix, the Tornadoes gave up just 14 points in a five-game span a year ago.
13: William Blount has won 13 games over the past four seasons. In the same time, new Govs coach Justin Ridge transformed Greenback from a three-win team in 2009 to a 10-win state quarterfinalist in 2012.
12: Twelve more points would’ve done it for Heritage in a 13-2 loss to William Blount last year, the Mountaineers closest game of the season.
11: William Blount hosts Knox. West on Oct. 11, before finishing the schedule with an always difficult three week stretch including trips to Maryville and Farragut before a Senior Night meeting with Bearden.
10: Maryville has played in nine-straight state championship games, dating back to a 2003 state semifinal loss to Morristown West. Another trip to the Blue Cross Bowl in 2013 would mean a complete decade of title game trips.
9: For the first time in nine years, Alcoa and Heritage will meet on the gridiron on Sept. 27, bringing back to life a rivalry last played out in September 2004.
8: Greenback hosts Grace Christian in Week 8, hoping to make amends for the Cherokees’ lone regular season loss a year ago — a 13-6 defeat at the hands of Grace.
7: Alcoa had won seven straight state titles (2004-10) before CAK upset the streak in 2011. Two years later, the state title trophy still hasn’t left the district — residing at CAK in 2011 and 2012.
6: Maryville travels to Sevier County in Week 6, an intriguing addition to the Rebels’ 2013 non-district schedule.
5: Alcoa starts the season with five of six games on the road, including trips to Smith County, McMinn County, Kingston, Heritage and Scott. Maryville on Aug. 30 will be the Tornadoes’ lone Goddard Field appearance before an Oct. 11 game against Lancaster Christian.
4: After the departure of Loudon and Stone Memorial from District 4-AA, Alcoa was left with just four district games in 2013. Catholic joined the league, but the Tornadoes were still left scrambling to find six non-district games to fill out a full 10-game schedule.
3: Greenback came up three points short a year ago, in a 34-31 loss to Coalfield in the Class 1A quarterfinals.
2: Alcoa’s 2012 season was ultimately decided by two points, falling 38-36 to rival CAK in the Class 3A quarterfinal round.
1: One point was all that separated Maryville from a third-straight state title. Instead, Whitehaven halted the Rebels’ 43-game winning streak with a thrilling, 36-35 Class 6A state title game win that needed overtime to determine a champion.