Cleveland free and clear of allegations of wrongdoing that were leveled a couple of weeks ago.
Consider that the player reportedly involved, running back Jamarcus Mobley, was held out of the Blue Raiders’ game two weeks ago but played Friday night at Cookeville.
You can book it. After all the hoopla, consider possible probation or other penalties — like the Blue Raiders forfeiting any games — a dead horse. And don’t be surprised if coach E.K. Slaughter takes them on a season-ending run despite the loss of 2011 quarterback prospect Chad Voytik to that mangled index finger on his throwing hand.
* Nobody over there is about to mention it — not with former coach Ralph Potter bringing Brentwood to town this week and suddenly hot Ensworth to follow — but if our records are correct Baylor is 6-0 for the first time since 1978. The Red Raiders, under Red Etter at the time, finished the regular season 8-0 and then lost 7-6 to Red Bank in the first round of the playoffs.
Bet your Beamer that current Baylor coach Phil Massey will frown — if not openly grimace — at such talk with four games left in the regular season and all four against Division II opponents, but the Red Raiders’ last unbeaten season was a 13-0 state championship effort in 1973.
Since 1908, Baylor has had 15 unbeaten seasons (if you include the 1-0-1 in 1908).
* Bradley Central moved to 5-2 with a Region 5-AAA upset of 10th-ranked Soddy-Daisy and the next victory will give the Bears their most wins in a season since the 2000 team went 9-4. They should be favored Friday at McMinn County (1-5, 0-2) to give coach Damon Floyd his best year as a head coach. ... A losing season would be the first for Cherokees coach Bo Cagle, who has taken his teams to records of 9-3, 7-5 and 7-3 in his three years as head coach. McMinn hasn’t had a losing record since 2005. ... As far as the rest of the region goes, Rhea County jumped into third place behind Cleveland and Bradley with a win over McMinn County last week. With a possible playoff spot at stake, the Golden Eagles will be at home Friday against Ooltewah. The Owls broke a three game losing streak by rallying past Walker Valley. ... Ooltewah hasn’t had a losing season since 2003. Conversely, Walker Valley had just two winning seasons in the school’s nine years of existence entering this season. One of those was under current coach Ted Lockerby (6-5 in 2008). The Mustangs are currently 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the region.
* East Ridge is currently 3-3 but given their coach’s track record, a winning season should be in the cards despite remaining games against the likes of 6-AA leader Howard. Pioneers coach Mike Martin has two winning seasons at East Ridge to go with four straight from his previous stop at Meigs County. ... Red Bank hasn’t been .500 (3-3) this late in the year since 2004. The Lions were in their third season under Tim Daniels and gave him his first winning year (7-4) at Red Bank. If you’re looking for streaks, consider that Tyner coachWayne Turner has made the playoffs for a dozen straight years.
* I was out of pocket for a while in August and missed it but Hixson lost its most versatile athlete in a preseason scrimmage with Rhea County. Justin Mathieson, who was scheduled to play H-back and linebacker in addition to punting and place-kicking, suffered a torn ACL. He’ll also miss the bulk of the wrestling season, returning in time for the region tournament. Mathieson, a junior who also is an outstanding soccer player, played some at quarterback, at running back and at defensive end in 2009.
Hixson had designed much of its offense against Mathieson due to his versatility and Wildcats coach Houston White had to redesign his offense. He then moved to senior receiver Randy Boyd to quarterback and changed the offense again, going to more of an option attack.
* It’s wearing on second-year coach Josh Goodin but McMinn Central, sporting a deadly combination of youth, inexperience and overall lack of size, is looking at a winless season. The Chargers have tried six times but headed for the school’s first “oh-fer” since 2001. ... As losing seasons go, Notre Dame is looking at its first back-to-back losing years since 2002 (Houston White) and 2003 (Charlie Wiggins). ... Since August of 2009 Bledsoe County football (under Jason Reel) has a 15-3 including this year’s 7-0 start. The Warriors, who bested next-county rival Sequatchie County Friday, are assured of back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1995 and 1996 (10-2 and 7-4 under Dickie Brown).
* If you were Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds and you had an open date last Friday, where would you have gone? The Buccaneers play South Pittsburg this week in a non-region game and unbeaten Copper Basin in a title-deciding 5-A game on Oct. 29.
Put it this way: What can learn by watching one team pummel an obviously inferior team 64-7 and reportedly go for two after their final TD? The best thing about that game may have been that neither team called it in. I wouldn’t venture a guess, but Reynolds didn’t get to the 2A state finals last year by missing many tricks. ... Speaking of Copper Basin, this year’s 7-0 start in the Cougars’ best since 1983 when they began 7-0 and finished 8-3.
* Have you looked across the state line lately?
In Alabama, North Jackson and Fort Payne remain unbeaten.
North Jackson’s opponent this week is Butler, which had scored a combined 88 points in two losses prior to last week’s 45-6 loss to Crossville. Butler lost to Cherokee County 63-52. North Jackson bested Cherokee 48-19. While their 6-0 record looks impressive, only two of the Chiefs opponents to date — Madison Academy and R.A. Hubbard – have winning records.
Fort Payne is eighth-ranked and the only remaining unbeaten in Class 5A. Kyle Crabtree passed for 251 yards and a TD and also ran for a score in the Wildcats’ 31-6 win over Boaz. They’re at home this week for a fairly big rivalry game against Albertville.
Ider has but one loss through six games.
* And into Georgia:
Northwest Whitfield finally got a 2010 win, going to Cass and securing a 29-15 victory.
Two big games coming up in North Georgia are on Oct. 22 — Ridgeland at Ringgold and Calhoun at Dade County. Ridgeland just got its first win over Dalton in 18 seasons; Calhoun and Dade are both undefeated.
* Any college recruiter out there looking for a kicker? He might still have some rough edges, but
East Hamilton’s Logan Cornelius was putting his kickoffs through the end zone Thursday evening. He had a 22-yard field goal and easily had the distance on a field goal of 40-plus yards but pulled it slightly left on the uprights at Finley Stadium, which are narrower than those at the high school level.
* Can I take a moment and urge anybody and everybody who isn’t traveling on Saturdays to make their way down to Finley Stadium to see Russ Huesman’s UTC Mocs? Take a look at their schedule, at the rankings of the opponents in games they lost and you’ll realize this is probably the best UTC bunch to grace Davenport Field. They were off Saturday and play at The Citadel on Saturday, but they’ll be home on Oct. 16 against Georgia Southern at 6 p.m.
* I took a shot at East Hamilton boosters and supporters last week when I noted that they failed to come up with – or sign a note for — the money needed to get lights installed in time for the Hurricanes football program to play at home this year.
No, I’m not recanting and if you still want to send your loose change or your cuss-jar change to principal Pam Dantzler, athletic director Brad Jackson or football coach Ted Gatewood, I’m sure they would accept it gladly. In a Finley game earlier this year the Hurricanes cleared a paltry $500, and that would have been closer to $2,500 if they had been able to play on-campus.
But can anybody tell me how many gated communities there are in East Hamilton’s zone? And I’d wager, based on what I heard from a couple of East Hamilton fans, that a sizable amount could be raised if one called solely on Hurricanes players’ parents who skipped the Hixson-East Hamilton game.
If he is to repeat the rebuilding of a winning foundation as he did at Ooltewah, Gatewood needs help, and first and second glances reveal that he has miles to go to strengthen booster support into the solid and rock-steady, I’ll-be-there-to-work group any good high school football program needs, deserves and definitely wants.
* News flash: Gatewood’s magic is working despite the apparent lack of community support and opponents should take notice of the ninth-grade Hurricanes’ 32-0 win over Soddy-Daisy.
* Did you realize that every Division II-AA school gets into the playoffs now? It is as bad as DII-AA wrestlers not having to qualify to wrestle in the state tournament.
* If Signal Mountain coach Bill Price isn’t intense enough for you, please note that one of his assistants is Ernie McCarson, the fiery soul who won at both Hixson and Tyner before becoming a hard-nosed assistant principal at Soddy-Daisy. New assistant Bumper Reese, returning to the football field to coach for the first time in a decade, fits well in that group too. Reese, of course, is best known as a baseball coach.
* I don’t know if he’ll appreciate this being written, but Marion County is suffering through one of “those” seasons and it’s taking years off coach Troy Boeck’s life. In frustration, he sent the team home early from a practice a couple of weeks ago and then he recently had three seniors quit on him. Keep an eye on the freshmen, sophomores and juniors who stick it out. The Warriors, possibly out of the playoffs for the first time since 2001, will be back shortly.
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 ...