published Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Gordon Lee, Trion should be competitive in 6-A

Region 6-A at a Glance

• Team on the rise: After bottoming out at 1-9 in 2009, Gordon Lee won four games a year ago and returns 15 starters. How the Trojans fare in the trenches will decide their fate this year.

• Nightmare schedule: Among Gordon Lee's nonregion games is the Aug. 26 home-opener with Class AA's Dade County, a 10-win team from a year ago. The Trojans also must travel to three of the four playoff teams from last year.

• Dream schedule: Though the schedule isn't easy, Trion gets to host a pair of big-money games in LaFayette early and Gordon Lee late. The Bulldogs also host two teams they will be fighting with for a playoff berth _ Mt. Paran and Bowdon.

• Best game: For area fans, the Gordon Lee-Trion game is one of most anticipated matchups of any season. Both teams should be in the playoff hunt late in the season when they meet.

• Biggest shoes to fill: Trion was 6-1 and rolling toward a possible region title when senior quarterback Hayden Tucker was lost with an ankle injury. The Bulldogs were never the same and must hope sophomore Cory Bethune grows up quickly under center.

• Playoff bound: Darlington, Bremen, Bowdon and Trion.

It seems only right that when Gordon Lee and Trion meet Oct. 28 at Sam R. McCain Stadium something more than bragging rights is likely to be on the line.

The longtime rivals are part of a top-heavy Region 6-A this season that figures to go down to the final week before its final playoff participants are determined. The Trojans and Bulldogs, each coach admits, are likely not title contenders, but both teams should be competitive enough to vie for a postseason berth.

“The traditional powers in Bowdon and Darlington are again going to be very, very good,”

Gordon Lee coach Kevin McElhaney said. “Bremen was young last year and can only be better and Mt. Paran snuck into the playoffs last year, and though they lost some seniors they are a private school and can re-load a lot easier.

“Honestly, there is no reason we shouldn't be in the mix for a [playoff] spot. Us and Trion, I think, will be right there according to how things work out and our game could very likely be for a playoff berth.”

The Trojans, 4-6 a year ago, looked strong in passing league camps this year, with senior quarterback Ryan Chastain and backfield mates Klay Durham, Adam Vandiver and Blake Teeters showing playmaking abilities. Inexperience up front is McElhaney's top concern.

Trion coach David Humphreys, whose team lost in the first round of the playoffs last year, has even more newcomers, though the Bulldogs will be strong up front with the likes of Georgia State University commitment Trevor Flanigan (6-2, 266) and junior Iman Wooten (6-2, 260). He, like McElhaney, sees a logjam behind the obvious favorites.

“In single-A ball you're going to kind of roll through your athletes, but there are a couple of teams in Bowdon and Darlington that are going to be very strong,” Humphreys said. “Bremen was very young last year, and so was Gordon Lee. They're both a year older and better and this year it's our turn to be young.”

Defending region champ Darlington is the preseason favorite and has seasoned quarterback Brad Butler, still just a junior, leading the way. Bowdon returns the region's top running back in Maricio Askew, while Bremen has perhaps the league's top defense returning, including two top linebackers.

about Lindsey Young...

Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...

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