GRUNDY COUNTY YELLOW JACKETS (1-0) at SOUTH PITTSBURG PIRATES (0-0)
Last time: South Pittsburg won 53-14 last year.
This time: The longer Grundy keeps the game close, the more confidence its players will perform with. The Jackets' hopes of staying close into the second half will depend on how well the offensive line, led by Austin Fults (6-3, 330), controls the Pirates' defensive front. South Pittsburg's defensive speed will need to gang-tackle Grundy's physical RB Johnny Cook (5-10, 190).
Time to shine: Grundy will try to control the ball and the clock as long as possible, limiting South Pittsburg's offensive chances, so Cook will need another big night. Last week he ran for 230 yards and three touchdowns and also made eight tackles and a sack. The Pirates thrive on gashing opponents for big plays, putting them in catch-up mode early. Junior RB Demetric Johnson (6-1, 180) and senior WR Antonio Chubb (5-11, 175) have the ability to turn any play into one of those big gains.
LOOKOUT VALLEY YELLOW JACKETS (1-0) at CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN CHARGERS (0-1)
Last time: Chattanooga Christian won 21-7 last year.
This time: The key will be which team tackles in space the best. While CCS will try to pass its way downfield, Lookout Valley prefers to keep it on the ground, but both can score in a hurry. The Chargers limited Boyd-Buchanan's offense for much of the first half last week before wearing down in the second half. All seven of the Yellow Jackets' TDs last week covered more than 20 yards. Depth will be a huge concern for Lookout Valley, which has eight players who likely will play every snap on both sides of the ball.
Time to shine: CCS WRs Joseph Miller and Beau Simmons are both 6-1 or taller and weigh more than 200 pounds, giving them a considerable size advantage over Lookout Valley's secondary. But the Jackets have a speed advantage, and Jamal Jones and Chris Walton have big-play potential on both sides of the ball. Each rushed for more than 100 yards last week, and Walton intercepted two passes.
BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (1-0) at EAST RIDGE PIONEERS (1-0)
Last time: Boyd-Buchanan won 34-29 in 2004.
This time: Class 3A East Ridge stepped up to play Class 5A Walker Valley last week and came away with a surprisingly easy win on the road. Class 2A Boyd-Buchanan also won handily against Class 3A Chattanooga Christian. The question for Boyd-Buchanan is how the Bucs will handle the Pioneers' overwhelming team speed. The question for East Ridge is how will the Pioneers contend with the Bucs' larger offensive and defensive lines.
Time to shine: Demetrius Bumpass split time at QB but had a good night for the Pioneers last week, completing 7 of 7 passes. He and fellow QB Eric McCurdy will be facing a much more experienced secondary this time around. East Ridge must not get zoned in on defending Bucs RB Chase Reed. John Hale is a capable runner and, if he didn't hurt his knee too badly last week, might shift a little more quickly than the senior Reed. The Bucs' defense depends heavily on LBs Rance Hardin, Austin Hall and Steve Ingram. The Pioneers will miss Sean Carter, their best lineman. He's out for at least two more weeks with a torn MCL.
TYNER RAMS (0-0) at SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES (1-0)
Last time: First meeting.
This time: Signal Mountain coaches got a microscopic look at things the Eagles need to fix, and got the first-game jitters out of the way, in a 34-13 win over East Hamilton. At least one Rams coach got a good look in person last week because Tyner was off. Too, the game was on TV.
Time to shine: The Eagles have a veteran offensive line anchored by John Evans and a veteran backfield that features Andrew Price (5-9, 175), Zack Bowman (6-0, 200) and Mitchell Hall (6-1, 210), bolstered by newcomer Tim McClendon (6-2, 230). Senior TE/WR Jon Patton (6-4, 200) sat out last week for a preseason violation of team rules but will team with Will Queen (6-2, 190) to give first-year QB Reese Phillips (6-3, 215) capable targets. Tyner loves to run and the Rams will use both Bobby Hendricks (5-10, 155) and Joseph Sturkey (6-0, 175), the latter having emerged in practice the last couple of weeks. Tyner also will alternate QBs, using Antonio Walton (5-10, 150) and Willie Stewart (5-8, 155). Stewart played some RB and DB last year. They will operate behind a line led by Raynard Williams (6-2, 205) and Edward Davis (5-11, 235). Defensive leaders are LB Chandler Patrick (6-0, 225) and T Edward Duckett (5-9, 215).
BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (1-0) at BRADLEY CENTRAL BEARS (1-0)
Last time: Baylor won 38-31 in 2000.
This time: Possibly the area's top two teams regardless of classification, the two are nearly mirror images. Both teams feature Division I-level wide receivers (Bradley's James Stovall; Baylor's Reggie Upshaw), stout offensive lines and high-powered rushing attacks, as well as stingy defenses.
Time to shine: Baylor quarterback Matthew Oellerich (5-11, 180) not only will have Upshaw (6-5, 200) to throw to but four running backs to use as well, and an offensive line led by Vanderbilt commitment Barrett Gouger (6-5, 280). The Bears' Bryce Copeland (5-11, 165) is in a similar situation, with Stovall (6-2, 185), Justin Houston (5-9, 160), who had three touchdowns last week, and an offensive line led by Tennessee commitment Austin Sanders (6-5, 300).
HIXSON WILDCATS (0-0) at WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS (0-1)
Last time: Walker Valley won 13-7 in 2008.
This time: While Hixson would like to get off to a good start with a victory in its season opener, the Mustangs are hoping to experience better success against another District 6-AA opponent after falling to East Ridge last week.
Time to shine: Hixson will be paced by tailback Clarencio Holmes (5-7, 185) and quarterback Justin Mathieson (5-10, 170). The Mustangs will count heavily on a rushing attack led by tailback Kelvin Wells (5-10, 170), fullback Hunter Keefer (6-1, 175) and wingback Gabe Cartwright (6-1, 170)
POLK COUNTY WILDCATS (0-1) at CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (0-0)
Last time: First meeting.
This time: Polk's defensive mindset must shift quickly from denying the pass, as it did last week against Bradley Central, to defending the run. The Pounders will run some wing-T and some option with QB LaDarrius Jackson (6-2, 185) and RBs Robert Cobb (5-10, 185) and Ta'Quan Johnson (5-9, 190). It could be a quick game because both Polk coach Derrick Davis and first-year Central coach John Allen often view the pass as a third or fourth option.
Time to shine: Polk County needs to get a complete game from QB/S Al Akins (6-2, 185). Akins, who also returns punts, suffered severe second-half cramping last week. Look for junior Cadarius Pope (6-2, 265) along both lines for the Pounders. On defense, he'll get help from E Josh Tisdale (5-10, 218) and LB Nik Timoshchuk (6-0, 220).
McMINN COUNTY CHEROKEES (1-0) at McCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (0-0)
Last time: McCallie won 13-9 last year.
This time: McMinn County beat its county rival McMinn Central to start the season, as it did a year ago. Then the Cherokees went 1-8 the rest of the way, a fate they're hoping to avoid in 2011. Four of the losses were by eight points or less, including a heartbreaker against the Blue Tornado. McCallie started 2-0 last year, then went 1-6 the rest of the regular season. It again has a rugged schedule, so winning tonight is at a premium for both teams.
Time to shine: The Cherokees' offensive attack is directed by senior Nathan Simbeck (6-4, 176), who wasn't their starting QB at the beginning of last season but ended up being the starter most of last season. Returning senior WRs Brandon Davis (6-3, 213) and Trevor Guthrie (6-0, 191) bring experience to the passing game. Junior DE Dillon Martin (6-3, 236) provides a spark on the other side. McCallie also returns its QB in Trent Lusk (6-3, 215) and its leading rusher in senior RB Daniel McClure (5-6, 170). Tye Youngblood (6-4, 275) is an emerging lineman and fellow senior Hayden Cronan (6-2, 210) is an established LB. The Blue Tornado can score from long range with senior K Arturo Rocha (5-11, 160).
EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES (0-1) at OOLTEWAH OWLS (1-0)
Last time: First meeting.
This time: It's anticipated the first football meeting between these neighboring schools will pack the stands and then some. East Hamilton opened three years ago, so many of its senior players were part of the Ooltewah squad that won the freshman-team Region 2-5A championship in 2008. For them, this is the varsity "home game" they never had.
Time to shine: East Hamilton may be little brother in the figurative sense, but it is considered to have the more physical approach. Seniors Mason Galanto (6-0, 190) and Ricky Caperton (5-11, 225) are among the linemen who set the tone in that regard. Junior Logan Jackson (6-0, 190) is a hard-charging RB. When he tires, they have another in classmate Chaz Hulsey (5-9, 175). The Owls' approach revolves around speed, which they have on the flanks as in senior WR/DB Mikhail Creech (6-3, 175). Senior WR Matt Sealor (6-0, 175), with three catches for 91 yards, was the Owls' leading receiver last week. There's speed on the other side, too, in senior CB Juice Arnold (6-1, 175), who is also in the rotation at WR.
DALTON CATAMOUNTS (0-0) at CALHOUN YELLOW JACKETS (0-0)
Last time: Calhoun won 27-14 last year.
This time: Last year's game was a typical season opener, complete with too many turnovers and penalties. With Calhoun starting several new skill-position players and with Dalton playing its first game under new offensive coordinator Bill Napier, keeping the mistakes at a minimum will be key.
Time to shine: The Catamounts would like to turn senior RB Tre Beck (5-9, 160) and his 4.4 speed loose, but the Jackets' defense, led by LBs Alex Kirby (6-foot, 217), Hunter Knight (6-foot-, 190) and Gabe Freeman (6-foot, 215), will be keying on Beck. This then will be a big test for junior QB Cole Calfee (5-10, 175), who has to loosen the Calhoun defense with some short passes. Calhoun returns three offensive starters, so new QB Taylor Lamb (6-1, 185), RB Darius Washington (5-9, 185) and four new linemen will get tested early by a Dalton defense that promises to be more aggressive this year.
LAKEVIEW-FORT OGLETHORPE WARRIORS (0-0)
vs. RINGGOLD TIGERS (0-0)
Tonight, 7:30 at Finley Stadium
Last time: Ringgold won 44-21 last year.
This time: The displaced Tigers play their first game at their temporary home against their most bitter rival. Even though that rivalry may have softened off the field this year as the Catoosa County community came together to help Ringgold rebuild, both head coaches expect the intensity on the field to remain extreme.
Time to shine: Coming off an 0-10 season, the Warriors want to use this game as a springboard to a building season and have strong skill players such as RBs Bubba Cruz (5-10, 200), Nate Long (5-9, 200) and Pooh Harden (5-9, 160) to get it done. Those three and lineman Kelly Payne (6-2, 245) will play both ways. The Tigers lost their final four games after a 5-1 start last year and will count on first-year starting QB Slade Dale (5-10, 180) and a strong running game featuring Mark Fairbanks (Sr., 6-1, 190) and Shaun Anderson (5-10, 205) to make sure that doesn't happen this year.
DADE COUNTY WOLVERINES (0-0) at GORDON LEE TROJANS (1-0)
Last time: Dade won 48-0 last year.
This time: The Wolverines used a dominating offensive line to manhandle the Trojans a year ago on the way to a surprising 10-win season, but only three starters return from that unit. Meanwhile, Gordon Lee returns 15 total starters and has played a game already. Though the Trojans have the edge in experience, this game will boil down again to which team gains the physical edge.
Time to shine: Dade, though hit hard by graduation, has a strong core stepping in, including RB Rodney Cannon (5-9, 165), to go with returning starting WB David Page (6-1, 190) and OL Gannon Hampton (6-foot, 270). Hampton will team with Andrew Blaylock (5-10, 215) in a strong linebacking corps. Gordon Lee will have a speed advantage in RBs Adam Vandiver and Klay Durham (each 5-8, 175). A defense that allowed 39 total yards a week ago is led by DL Cory Jewell (6-1, 200) and Randall Smith (6-4, 230) and LBs Bryce Bailey (6-1, 205) and Blake Teeters (6-1, 220).