Coach: Wayne Turner (166-78 here; 171-88 overall)
Returning starters (O/D/K): 6/6/1
Remember these names: The Rams again have plenty of talent, including running back Bobby Hendricks (Sr., 5-11, 180), fullback/linebacker Chandler Patrick (Sr. 6-0, 225), guard/defensive end Raynard Williamson (Sr., 6-2, 215) and offensive tackle David Powell (Jr., 6-5, 345).
Will be a memorable year if: The Rams get beyond the first round of the playoffs. Most observers feel it’s a foregone conclusion that they’ll get there, but they haven’t advanced past the first round since 2007 and they lost their second playoff game that year. A deeper run in the postseason would be a welcome substitute for a district championship.
Aug. 26 at Signal Mountain
Sept. 2 at Brainerd*
Sept. 9 McCallie
Sept. 16 at East Ridge*
Sept. 23 at Tullahoma
Sept. 30 at Hixson*
Oct. 7 at Central*
Oct. 14 East Hamilton*
Oct. 21 Howard*
Oct. 28 Red Bank*
* District 6-AA game
Tyner has had two phenomenal multiseason runs under Turner, going 46-8 with a state title in 1996-99 and 51-12 in 2001-05.
“It was a fantastic stretch,” Turner said of the latter string. “It just got to where it was expected every year and the next year’s kids wanted to keep the tradition going. A lot of the former players were coming back, and the kids on those teams wanted to do well.”
The numerous standouts in the 51-12 run included highly rated linemen Demonte Bolden, who is now in the Canadian Football League after a stellar career at Tennessee, and Greg Smith, who signed with Auburn but never got to play with the Tigers, and brother sets Marquis and Keylon Craddock, both quarterbacks, and Kevin and Brandon Hughes, both defensive ends. Running back/linebacker Courtney McGlone and fullback/linebacker Martez Mitchell were state Mr. Football finalists.
The pressure is on. Tyner's Bobby Hendricks is a senior and a third-year starter, and coach Wayne Turner is expecting him to shoulder much of the load in the Rams running game.
Yet the pressure comes from his own expectations and the notion of measuring up to elder brother Desmond, a former state Mr. Football award winner.
"Desmond was a really good kid, and this one's just as intense," Turner said. "Bobby probably puts a little too much pressure on himself trying to do better than Des."
Desmond was a linebacker and backed up quarterback Keylon Craddock, graduating after the 2005 season. He went from Tyner to Rhodes College and then played in the NFL's European league.
"It's hard," Bobby said. "He did some good things at Tyner, and I'm trying to be better than he was. I'd like to bring back a state championship. I want to show what I can do and for Tyner to show what it's capable of doing."
Turner believes Hendricks and others can help Tyner get past the second round of the playoffs for the first time since Desmond's senior season, when they won three postseason games before losing to eventual state champion Alcoa.
"We're a little thinner at running back than we've been the last few years, so Bobby is going to get his share of carries," Turner said.
Hendricks averaged slightly more than seven carries and 38 yards last year, scoring three touchdowns while splitting backfield time with a handful of players including now graduated Sean Neal and Eric Drake.
"He's a really good kid and he is definitely a positive role model," Turner said. "He has a great work ethic, and although he leads more by example, when he does say something the guys listen. He had some big runs for us against Howard and Red Bank plus doing a really good job in the secondary, mostly at safety."
Hendricks' only 100-yard rushing game was in the district-title showdown against Howard, and he had 60 yards in a big win over Red Bank. All three of his touchdowns came in a win over East Hamilton, and against Central he came up with two big defensive plays late to preserve a victory.
He wants to build on the past.
"Since I've been here, we've made it to the playoffs but we haven't gotten past that first round," Hendricks said. "We can do it but we can't make mistakes. We have to stay focused, not hurt ourselves with turnovers and always be ready -- for the next play, the next quarter, the next game -- and we have to stay humble."
The key also is to stay healthy.
"That's going to be a must," Turner said. "Our first groups are fine, but I don't know [what to expect] if we start getting people injured. We have some depth but not a whole lot of experienced depth."
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 ...