COPPER BASIN COUGARS
Coach: Patrick Daly (28-38 here and overall)
Returning starters (O/D/K): 7/6/0
Remember these names: Matt Ray (Sr., 5-11, 170) brings a strong arm to the quarterback spot and also will be counted on heavily in the defensive backfield. Stephen Spargo (Jr., 6-1, 180) was the team’s leading receiver last year. Linebackers Blake Satterfield (Sr., 5-10, 180) and Dylan Boggs (Jr., 6-1, 190) return from a unit that allowed more than one touchdown just four times. Britton Kennedy (Sr., 5-10, 180) is a four-year starter on the offensive line.
Will be a memorable year if: The Cougars avoid significant lost time at any position. They have only 22 players. There is talent and experience to return to the playoffs for a third straight season, as long as the starters stay healthy.
Aug. 19 at Whitwell
Aug. 26 at Sunbright
Sept. 2 at Hayesville (N.C.)
Sept. 9 at Towns County (Ga.)
Sept. 16 Silverdale Baptist*
Sept. 23 Eagleville
Sept. 30 at Grace Academy*
Oct. 14 Marion County
Oct. 21 Lookout Valley
Oct. 28 Boyd-Buchanan*
* District 5-A game
Britton Kennedy is a living example of the determination within Copper Basin's football program. As a 145-pound freshman offensive guard, Kennedy took his share of smackdowns early in his varsity career, but now — 40 pounds heavier and with three years experience in the trenches — he is one of the reasons the Cougars expect to make their third straight playoff appearance.
"He took some beatings early on, but he's a tough kid and he has been a solid player for us all along," Cougars coach Patrick Daly said. "We expect to be good again, but we know we can't afford to lose anybody to injury. We've got some guys who just have to realize it's their turn and step up."
The Cougars were able to put years of frustration behind them last season, winning 10 games and advancing to the state quarterfinals for the first time in 22 years. They came within two points of reaching the semifinals for the first time ever, just two years after snapping a 21-game losing streak.
Although they have seven offensive and six defensive starters back, the keys for the Cougars this year will be staying healthy and replacing versatile quarterback Eric Sisson, a four-year starter who accounted for more than 2,400 yards and 31 touchdowns last season.
Copper Basin has just 22 players on the roster, including senior Matt Ray, who takes over quarterback duties. Ray does have leading receiver Stephen Spargo back, and the defense will be led by linebackers Blake Satterfield and Dylan Boggs. Those two helped lead a unit that allowed more than one touchdown just four times in 12 games.
In the second game of the 1998 season, senior tailback Johnny Dixon announced he would be in for a mammoth season by rushing for 335 yards and six touchdowns against Tellico Plains. Dixon averaged 21 yards per carry, and his scoring runs covered 20, 40, 49, 65, 70 and 74 yards. Dixon went on to lead the Chattanooga area with 1,683 rushing yards and scored 26 TDs that season, helping the Cougars to an 8-3 season.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...