published Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Tyner's Turner had never had a 0-2 start

Wayne Turner is as much a fixture at Tyner as the building itself. He's got coaching shorts as old as some of his players. You know the ones. They're frayed and the stretch band has lost its ability to hug the waist line, but when he broke into coaching they were all the rage. Of course, that was a time when stretch polyester and McDonald's were in their infancy.

Likely the dean of Chattanooga area coaches in terms of continuous service when one adds in his pre-Tyner seasons at Kirkman, Turner has been the Rams' head football coach for 18 seasons. He has had some really good teams - state finalists in 1996 and 1997 and nine different groups with at least 10-win seasons - and in all that time on Tyner Road he never, ever had a team start the year 0-2 until now.

They were shellacked in their season opener by Ooltewah, the District 5-AAA preseason favorite, and bruised this past Friday night by Baylor. In two games they have given up 77 points while scoring just six.

Turner has grumbled for some time about changing times and kids having other interests that kept them from devoting themselves to football, and that is probably true. But Turner is his own worst enemy.

Yes, the TSSAA dropped him into an eight-team district when it realigned and reclassified so he had a seven-game schedule built in. Never mind that in those seven were city rivals Howard and Brainerd. He also picked up former Region 4-4A teams Red Bank, Central, East Ridge and Hixson.

And then to top it off, he still had to find three non-district games to fill his schedule, and his reputation and that of his teams forced him to play other teams in the same boat. Face it, no one willingly plays Ooltewah or Baylor or McCallie. In a day and age where wins and losses -- even in non-district games -- help determine a team's playoff fate and seed, everybody is looking for a sure win. And previous Tyner teams have been anything but that.

The Rams face another team trying to break a winless streak Friday when they play at Hixson in the Wildcats' home opener. Hixson doesn't have the Tyner tradition but rather more than its share of bad luck. This was to be the year when coach Houston White would have his scoring machine. He would combine quality quarterbacking (Zach McCarter) and a spread-it-out and toss it offense with a bunch of versatile squirts that could run and catch. He thought they might mask all the fuzzy cheeks in his offensive line.

McCarter missed the first game, a loss to Signal Mountain, and played against Soddy-Daisy last week without benefit of any kind of scrimmage work and only minimal contact. But a couple of injuries and that offensive line's cheeks were looking more rosy than fuzzy.

Looking back at last Friday, one of the biggest surprises was North Jackson. It wasn't that the Chiefs won but the fact that they gave up 24 points. I guess it isn't that big a deal when you run and shoot and whole lot better and a whole lot faster than the other guy.

You have to wonder where Dalton would have been without Shaquon Moore. He ran for 212 yards and his only reception went for a 34-yard TD, and the Catamounts still lost to Calhoun (31-28).

Bradley Central got its second shutout in the Damon Floyd era, beating former Bradley assistant Eddie Nunley - he was there with Bill Price - and Coffee County 21-0.

And Price is having a high time of it at Signal Mountain. He built a reputation for rebuilding programs throughout his career -- including Bradley Central -- but this time he got one from scratch and has moved the Eagles from undefeated junior varsity a year ago to 2-0 this year.

Of course the Eagles make their first road trip this week -- to Lookout Valley -- and their schedule also includes always-tough South Pittsburg.

The Pirates had an easy time of it Friday. Did you see what they did? Although only one piece of their three-headed monster actually showed up, his performance was more than enough -- five Jonathan Sellers touchdowns including 180 rushing yards.

Both of their county rivals -- Marion County and Whitwell -- won last week and Whitwell scored 48 points behind a four TD performance from Travis Goforth and three more scores from Trevor Holland. It should be pointed out that one of Goforth's scores came on an 80-yard kickoff return and another on a 60-yard return with an interception. Marion County ho-hummed its way past Bledsoe County, finally scoring a pair of fourth-quarter TDs to win 21-6.

But I would be remiss if I didn't note the performance by McCallie. Opposing quarterback Cy Ables passed for 283 yards and ran for another 66 but the Blue Tornado, which lost the heart of its offense -- senior quarterback Keenon Rush -- to a knee injury the week before, rallied from a 20-16 halftime deficit with 14 third-quarter points. The 30-20 win pushed McCallie to 2-0.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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