It was much more like football weather this past week, finally, and wouldn’t it be nice to play more of the season in cool and crisp conditions?
Coaches need to band together and demand that the TSSAA adjust its schedule so there will be no more than one football game per team in August. Sure, they’re still going to be playing in the heat, but it would be for a much shorter time frame and practices wouldn’t be starting in July.
As I pointed out earlier this year, even Florida teams start at least a week, and maybe two, after their Tennessee counterparts. There isn’t that much difference in the Volunteer State’s sultry heat and what Florida players deal with.
Heat-index rules — little more than a way for state associations to cover their liability concerns — just don’t cut it.
• How about Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe? After a slow start and a losing streak extension following a winless season last year, the Warriors are in the Georgia playoffs following their 7-0 victory over Sonoraville on Friday. They started the year 0-4 but since have won four straight games, including a pair of shutouts, and can boast of a 4-1 region record.
The Warriors last made the playoffs in 2009.
• The 42 points East Ridge put up in its win last week over Central were a season high, the previous best being 39 in the opening victory against Walker Valley.
• East Hamilton’s 21-18 victory over Red Bank last Friday was the Hurricanes’ first win over the Lions and put them in position to win District 6-AA with a home victory this week over Howard. This has the makings of a pretty good showing for a third-year team that played its first game on campus this season.
District 6-AA remains something of a playoff mess with Red Bank and East Hamilton still in the title hunt and Tyner, East Ridge and Brainerd definitely in the playoff race. Red Bank plays at Tyner and Brainerd is at home against East Ridge. Tyner is 4-5 and needs a win to enhance its playoff hopes, while Red Bank 7-2 is likely in. East Ridge is assured of a .500 finish, standing 5-4 right now, while Brainerd needs a win to finish .500.
• McMinn County visits Bradley Central for the 5-AAA championship while Polk County (5-AA) and South Pittsburg (6-A) have won their districts. Bledsoe County (7-AA) needs a win over Chattanooga Christian or a Sequatchie County loss to Signal Mountain to win its district. Other possible playoff participants are Ooltewah and Cleveland in 5-AAA; Sequatchie, Grundy County and Notre Dame in 7-AA; Meigs County in 5-AA; Lookout Valley in 6-A and Boyd-Buchanan and Grace Academy in 5-A.
• All Division II teams advance to the postseason, but Baylor will be trying to lock up home-field advantage and a first-round bye Friday against Battle Ground Academy. BGA is the likely first-round playoff host for McCallie, which appears to have lost its host role following a 24-21 setback last Friday against Montgomery Bell Academy.
And in case you missed it, Ensworth, the defending state champion that lost to Baylor earlier in the year, bumped off Brentwood Academy on Friday. Brentwood Academy beat Baylor by the slimmest of margins after the Red Raiders knocked off Ensworth; thus the importance of Friday’s home game against BGA.
On the subject of McCallie, diminutive Blue Tornado senior running back Daniel McClure (5-foot-6?) continues to impress. In getting another 100-yard performance Friday, McClure both pushed piles and squirted through them.
There was a penalty called for helmet-to-helmet contact in that game and I dare say McCallie coach Bubba Simmons would have challenged the call if replay had been available. But that game had several unusual calls, including an offensive facemask penalty, an offensive pass-interference penalty (with loss of down) and an end-zone horse-collar flag that nullified a safety.
• North Jackson continues to roll and clinched its Alabama region championship by going on the road and handing Fairview a 30-21 loss. It was only Fairview’s second loss of the season.
Fort Payne, North Sand Mountain and Ider also appear headed for the postseason.
• I’m sure my detractors would be disappointed if I didn’t write something about the Signal Mountain/TSSAA issue, so here it is:
Following their appeal to the TSSAA, which was denied, the Eagles are playing their final game of the 2011 season this Friday at Dunlap, and here’s hoping the cooler weather keeps any potential hotheads from losing their composure.
Sequatchie County principal Tommy Layne denies having played any part in Signal Mountain’s problems, and Layne impresses me as the kind who will tell you straight up what’s on his mind whether or not you’ll like what he has to say. There’s nothing for Signal supporters to attack and nothing for Sequatchie supporters to defend.
Let the kids play the game.
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 ...