HERITAGE: J P Pearson vs. Maryville

Maryville’s Tyler Zwolinski (23) goes for a tackle on Heritage’s J. P. Pearson (5) on Aug. 21, during the 2015 football season opener at Maryville’s Shields Stadium. The 2016 opener is just a week away.

Start the countdown football fans it’s 90 days until a new prep season officially kicks off.

Shocked?

You aren’t the only one.

The alarm went off on the phone Thursday night to provide a 24-hour warning that the 90 day mark had arrived and required a double take and quick counting on fingers and toes to double check that figure. Let’s see, 11 days left in May, 30 days in June makes 41, 31 days in July makes for 72, plus 19 days in August makes 91, then minus one for Football Eve for the eventual Thursday game yet to be named.

Yep that’s 90 days until pads pop for a meaningful reason once more in the high schools ranks.

With many of those same athletes still running track this spring, here’s a few things to ponder as the countdown clock starts to crawl slowly closer to the openers.

^pWARNING BELL:: The lawsuit filed this week against the NCAA, conferences and certain schools by former athletes is broad and potentially devastating for the sport. It reaches back to the first article published in a medical journal in the early 1950s warning that a football player’s career should be ended after he suffered three concussions, and extends to the NCAA rule change on concussions instituted in 2010.

That may spell major trouble down to the high school ranks and beyond. The state associations governing high school football are already huddling up to fight a similar lawsuit from the same group of attorneys in Illinois.

On the bright side the high school associations have several things on their side. Most haven’t been around nearly as long. Several, not including Tennessee’s TSSAA, have some forms of state protection against such a lawsuit. And most importantly, despite the cut they take in ticket sales, these associations generally do not have the resources to be attractive financial targets for a class action suit.

The sport has come a long way from just got his bell rung, but the courts could push football right off the field with rulings that carry unintended consequences over the past.

^pJAMMING:: If 90 days still seems too far away, the Maryville Orthopaedic Clinic Jamboree is a week earlier. It’s scheduled for Friday, Aug. 12, at Heritage High School.

^pLIGHT AT THE END: :The site of the jamboree brings up the light poles that are being installed at Heritage and William Blount. After a near nasty accident revealed that several of those poles that have been standing since the schools were built weren’t likely to stay standing much longer, replacements are going in. Not only will they be safer, but the newer fixtures should be brighter and more energy efficient than their predecessors from the 1970s.

Of course that naturally leads a curious mind to wonder about the inspections of the other structures at those fields, as well as how well, and often, the light poles at other high school venues are checked for wear and tear.

^pNO FORECASTS?:: Lastly, as fun as it could be to start picking apart reasons why Alcoa or Maryville might or might not make it to Cookeville in December for the state champions, there are after all 90 days until the start, and I prefer not to repeat myself.

Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times.

An East Tennessee newshound since 1990, minus a few years spent working the road race circuit in D.C. , Marcus has been a reporter, copy editor and sports editor, and is now a production manager of APG's Design Hub located at The Daily Times.

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