Alcoa's Clabough meets Maryville's Shinsky

Alcoa's Dustin Clabough (30) brings down the Rebel's Dylan Shinsky (2) after short run in the first quarter of the Aug. 29th Battle of Pistol Creek.

Trying to head off the observations that are bound to arrive when you, our dear readers, open up The Maze Runner special section in today’s edition.

There isn’t a recap of the Maryville-Alcoa game included in the commemorative section chronicling the runs to the championship game. It’s not an accident, it’s by design.

The last few seasons, I’ve become a fan of Maryville College head coach Mike Rader’s touch phrase, “man sharpens man as stone sharpens stone.” That’s exactly what the Battle of Pistol Creek has become. It doesn’t derail either team’s title hopes or aspirations, but it certainly helps sharpen the focus and provides that early measuring stick that both sides use in following weeks to reenforce the lessons to players on the practice field. It makes both teams better.

It’s a challenge in the vein of cousins on the driveway playing for basketball bragging rights, rather than your-title-dreams-die-here sort of test. Rather than place it in the Maryville side of the section or the Alcoa side of the section, the backyard battle was simply not used as it wasn’t a turn in the maze with a pitfall.

• The next big day for prep football comes up on National Signing Day, which is the first day seniors — who aren’t graduating early to get that over-hyped college jump start — can sign their football letters of intent.

This looks to be a special year for Blount teams with the number of seniors going on to the next level. As good as that is, it brings with it all the uber attention for those who salivate over recruiting news and rumors thereof. I love to see area athletes get that opportunity to have their college education paid for, but dread the demands for attention their choices on that matter inevitably draws.

Seniors deserve to enjoy that final year with their friends. It’s, generally speaking, the last one they get before the real world begins creeping in on them slowly but surely. Seems a waste of part of that experience to be constantly texted/emailed/pinged on social media and asked wherever they go in public by the overly intrusive and friends just being polite, ”so where are you going to school?,” so that it many cases it can be over-analyzed on the Internet and talk radio.

When there’s no way a teenager can be absolutely certain the college he or she likes is going to have the same coach in charge of any team in August, when it’s time to move into that first dorm room, that is has at this moment, I don’t fault any high school student for their choices on how they handle recruitment.

Maybe if coaches weren’t allowed to leave for another job once signing day has passed or if administrators had a firing deadline for making changes, or if the NCAA was on a deadline to announce sanctions in a given sport a month before signing season opened in that sport, I’d see it a little different.

They don’t, so I don’t.

The best we can do is just let them be seniors and quit asking all the time.

But that’s probably asking too much.

Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times, who enjoys reading comments posted on to his columns.

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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