CALHOUN YELLOW JACKETS
at DALTON CATAMOUNTS
Last meeting: Calhoun won 31-28 last year.
Storyline: The teams have split the past four meetings, each winning at home. Both teams have questions to answer in what each hopes to be the start of a special season. For Dalton, new coach Matt Land gets his first taste of regular-season action; for Calhoun, can Landon Curtis fulfill expectations at quarterback?
Players to watch: Dalton will rely on a potentially dominant ground game this year, focusing on 1,300-yard rusher Tre Beck and a solid front line led by future Georgia Bulldog Watts Dantzler. Defensively, linemen Floyd Coffey and Stefan Bonaparte and feisty linebacker Blake Raber are the leaders. Calhoun counters with all-state running back Dustin Christian and preseason all-state receiver J.T. Palmer to help Curtis. Defensively there are plenty of veterans back, including linemen Gus Roberts and Caden Parker and linebackers Hunter Knight and Alex Kirby.
Key question: Can the Dalton offense make the Yellow Jackets' defense respect the pass? If not, it could be a long night for the Big Red.
RINGGOLD TIGERS at
LAKEVIEW-FORT OGLETHORPE WARRIORS
Last meeting: Ringgold won 26-20 last year.
Storyline: No longer region rivals, this one still has plenty of meaning. The Tigers hope a quick start can lead to a repeat state-playoff season. The Warriors have replaced all but senior center Tucker Wilson off last year's prolific offense, so coach Todd Windham's goal for the game is to establish who wants to play.
Players to watch: Ringgold hopes for a more balanced offense this year, focusing on junior quarterback Josh Moore and playmakers Dezmond Harris and Mark Fairbanks. The Tigers' strength, though, lies up front with veteran linemen Kris Wooten and Tyler Pierce. The Warriors will play plenty of people and hope new quarterbacks Daniel Deocampo and Trey Silmon will succeed as a run-pass combo. Junior Bubba Cruz is expected to be the featured back, at least early on.
Key question: Can the young Warriors grow up quickly enough to hang with the veteran Tigers?
GORDON LEE TROJANS (1-0)
at DADE COUNTY WOLVERINES
Last meeting: Gordon Lee won 41-7 in 2007.
Storyline: The Trojans hope to build off last week's last-minute comeback win over Silverdale Baptist. The Wolverines have their sights set on making the state playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Players to watch: Gordon Lee found late success last week with junior quarterback Ryan Chastain, who led the winning 79-yard drive. Senior Logan Kokoszka emerged as the team's go-to receiver. The defense, led by linemen Blake Reynolds, Will Berry and Randall Smith, was solid. Dade isn't fancy offensively, preferring to use the bulk of linemen Randy Holt (6-foot-6, 340) and Nic Lawson (6-3, 320) to open holes for powerful back John Hampton.
Key question: Can the smallish Trojans defense slow the methodical Dade offense?
CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (0-0)
vs. SEQUATCHIE COUNTY INDIANS (0-0)
Tonight, 7:30, Finley Stadium
Last meeting: Central won 25-14 last year.
Storyline: Last year's "Barger Bowl" now features only one of the coaching brothers with Chad remaining at Sequatchie County. David left Central to take over the Lake County program. This will be Sam Montgomery's debut as the Purple Pounders coach.
Players to watch: Everything begins with Hunter Lewis for the Indians, on both sides of the ball. A talented runner, pass-catcher and defender, he will need to continue his knack of making a few big plays. Central will try to get the ball into the hands of Dehart Hubbard, one of the city's top overall athletes. Linebacker Nikolay Timoshchuk leads a defense that has proven to be physical during the preseason.
Key question: Does Sequatchie have enough playmakers to keep up with Central's athleticism?
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (1-0)
at HOWARD HUSTLIN' TIGERS (0-0)
Last meeting: Howard won 22-9 last year.
Storyline: Howard will debut a triple-option offense out of a formation that coach Alvin Tarver has nicknamed the "Tiger-bone." Notre Dame was able to work out a few things with a season-opening win last week.
Players to watch: A healthy Eric McCullough gives Howard a physical presence as a ball carrier and run-stopper. But he isn't the only burly runner for the Hustlin' Tigers: Evander Rollins (5-10, 195) packs a punch as well.
Key question: Howard's new offense is designed to punish defenses. But can the Hustlin' Tigers avoid the turnovers that often come with running the option?
McMINN CENTRAL CHARGERS (0-1)
at CLEVELAND BLUE RAIDERS (0-0)
Last meeting: McMinn Central won 20-6 last year.
Storyline: The Blue Raiders have been impressive in preseason scrimmages, but this is their first chance to erase the memory of last year's three-win disappointment. The Chargers' pride is bruised after a season-opening thumping from rival McMinn County.
Players to watch: Middle linebacker Dylan Lawson will need to make a lot of plays to help the Chargers try to slow Cleveland's speed. The Blue Raiders' attack is led by junior Chad Voytik, one of the most talented quarterbacks in the area, speedy tailback JaMarcus Mobley and receiver Jeremy Simpson. Defensive end Henry McClendon is a beast coming off the edge.
Key question: Is Cleveland's offense really as good as it looked at times during the preseason?
GRUNDY COUNTY YELLOW JACKETS (0-0)
at SOUTH PITTSBURG PIRATES (0-0)
Last meeting: South Pittsburg won 41-0 last year.
Storyline: The Pirates' weakness the last two years has shown when teams are willing to be patient and run right at them with big offensive lines. The Yellow Jackets have a strong line and have looked impressive moving the ball in chunks in the preseason. This is Travis Millard's chance to step up as the Pirates' new starting quarterback.
Players to watch: Grundy County quarterback Destin Nunley (5-foot-8, 145) is a dual threat and tough to locate behind a lot of big bodies up front, including junior Austin Fults (6-3, 315). South Pittsburg's offense will begin with the return of senior all-state running back Raquis Hale, but there are plenty of weapons on that side of the ball, including junior receiver Antonio Chubb and running back Jonathan Sellers.
Key question: Can the Yellow Jackets follow the blueprint set by Polk County and Union City last year and have success running right at the Pirates?
SODDY-DAISY TROJANS (0-1)
at HIXSON WILDCATS (0-1)
Last meeting: Soddy-Daisy won 27-0 last year.
Storyline: Hixson is planning a pink-out in support of the MaryEllen Locher breast cancer foundation. The Wildcats were humbled by Signal Mountain in a 42-7 loss and did not score until the fourth quarter on one play that counted for a third of their total yards. The Trojans fell 10-7 to Science Hill on a last-minute field goal.
Players to watch: Hixson running back Gary Cosey had a good game last Friday with 118 rushing yards. Soddy-Daisy quarterback Trevor Card threw for 228 yards in his opening week.
Key question: Both teams can take to the air when necessary to balance their ground games, but which will be more effective and have shorter throws to make?
BRAINERD PANTHERS (0-0)
at WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS (0-1)
Last meeting: Walker Valley won 26-21 last year.
Storyline: Stanley Jackson will make his coaching debut tonight for the Panthers. Walker Valley is looking to earn some self-respect after getting thumped 72-27 at Bearden last week.
Players to watch: Brainerd receiver Joseph Derrick is a big target at 6-foot-3. Dino Montgomery and Justin Smith provide versatility. Walker Valley senior Brad Davis will have plenty of opportunities to show his speed.
Key question: How will Jackson handle his new role, and will his players pick up on his emotion?
SILVERDALE BAPTIST SEAHAWKS (0-1)
at EAST RIDGE PIONEERS (0-0)
Last meeting: East Ridge won 34-9 last year.
Storyline: Silverdale played in one of the ugliest games last week, a 6-2 loss at Gordon Lee, and the Seahawks are still looking for their first offensive points of the year. The Pioneers are kicking off their third season under coach Mike Martin.
Players to watch: East Ridge senior Chase Steele does a little bit of everything and usually does it well. Defensive tackle Keyone Bush is a big cog at 290 pounds. Silverdale's Wil Amos had 146 of the Seahawks' 200 yards and an interception last week.
Key question: How much advantage is it that Silverdale played last week and the Pioneers were off?
McMINN COUNTY CHEROKEES (1-0)
at McCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (0-0)
Last meeting: McCallie won 30-20 last year.
Storyline: There are perceivable differences between the boys from an outlying public high school making a 50-plus-mile trip to a city more than 10 times bigger than theirs to face private-school boys. However, the teams have at least one thing in common. They are among the most talented in southeastern Tennessee.
Players to watch: McMinn County is shifting Drew Massingale from running back to quarterback this year. Tylin Gordon will be in the backfield with him. End Ty Kempson (6-3, 220) and his defensive mates posted a shutout in their opener. McCallie quarterback Trent Lusk gained a lot of experience last year as a sophomore because of an early-season injury to senior Keenon Rush. Recent University of Tennessee at Chattanooga commitment Jarrod Coleman leads the defense, and receiver Keenan Hale also is a college prospect.
Key question: Three are back in the same starting positions on offense for the Cherokees. The same is true for the Blue Tornado's defense. Which team overcomes when those units are on the field?
RED BANK LIONS (0-0) at
BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (1-0)
Last meeting: Red Bank won 14-7 last year.
Storyline: This one could be billed as the "Inexperienced Bowl." The Lions and Bucs each graduated most of their offensive and defensive starters from last year, as well as their kicker and punter.
Players to watch: Although the bulk of talent is gone from the teams that each won 12 games last year, two noticeable standouts are back. Red Bank wide receiver Kelvin Clay and Boyd-Buchanan linebacker Ross Keasler were second-team all-city selections last year. The Lions also are looking for big things from lineman Garrett Vineyard (6-3, 220). Bucs running backs Hayden Meadows and Chase Reed combined for 210 rushing yards and four touchdowns in their opener.
Key question: Which group of untried players can develop faster?
TYNER RAMS (0-1)
at BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (1-0)
Last meeting: Baylor won 41-6 last year.
Storyline: The Rams are looking to get well after last week's ill-fated performance that included six turnovers against a retooling Ooltewah team, but this may not be the best time for that. Even without giving the Red Raiders six turnovers, they're capable of administering a whipping.
Players to watch: Tyner relies heavily on the play on both sides from Travis Jones. He had a 30-yard touchdown run and two TD passes last week but also threw four interceptions. Markez Chappell ran the opening kickoff back 81 yards for a touchdown. Last week Baylor quarterback Jacob Huesman ran 10 times for 138 yards, including a 69-yarder for Baylor's first points of the season. He also was 6-of-12 passing with a touchdown to Wyatt McRae. John Mackey had a sack and a 15-yard TD run.
Key question: Can the Rams keep their mistakes to a minimum?
OOLTEWAH OWLS (1-0)
at AUSTIN-EAST ROADRUNNERS (0-1)
Last meeting: Ooltewah won 7-6 last year.
Storyline: If Ooltewah thinks its defense was tested by Tyner last week, wait until tonight. The Roadrunners averaged 35.5 points per game during a six-game winning streak late last season and have every starter back on offense.
Players to watch: Ooltewah quarterback Goose Manning had 21- and 25-yard touchdown runs among his 23 carries last week. His three completions went to Mikhail Creech, good for 121 yards and a TD. Jay Rudwall had 19 tackles. Austin-East's Curtis King ran for 1,526 yards and 17 touchdowns on last year's state-quarterfinal team, and Cordy Cox added support with 671 rushing and 11 TDs. Lineman Malcolm Clark (6-0, 278) helps pave their way and is expected to play more defense this year.
Key question: If the Owls surrender another 366 yards like last week, can they at least again force enough turnovers to win?