published Monday, August 13th, 2012

Gossett blog: Notes from the jamboree: familiar faces, new places

There were a number of new faces, or at least old faces in new places, at the Best of Preps weekend football jamboree.

E.K. Slaughter is now at Red Bank after leaving Cleveland, Jason Fitzgerald is at Hixson after resigning at Rhea County two years ago and sitting out last season, Charles Fant has moved from offensive coordinator to head coach at Notre Dame, Ralph Potter is back home at McCallie after several seasons at Brentwood Academy, Tracy Malone has taken over at East Ridge, Ron Crawford is Cleveland's new guy and Glen Ryan is back in the head coaching ranks.

"It's great to be back. I really missed [being a head coach]," said Ryan, the former Soddy-Daisy coach who has spent the last six years as a coordinator in Georgia and as an assistant the past two years at Walker Valley.

Crawford, by the way, had ties to the Chattanooga area long before going to Cleveland from Brentwood. He was an assistant at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe to Morris Rogers years ago.

• Signal Mountain supporters had worried about the Eagles' passing attack despite the return of all-state and Kentucky quarterback commitment Reese Phillips.

It appears that the passing game, which will be without departed seniors Will Queen and Jon Patton, is in good hands. Phillips went deep to Chris Abernathy, who was sailing down the sidelines, for a 70-yard strike on their first play from scrimmage. He finished with nearly 200 yards in just 20 minutes, most of which was played in a light rain.

With that said, those who know Signal coach Bill Price are fully aware that the Eagles will have a most competent running game.

• Ever wonder where the North Georgia schools are during the local jamboree? Their high school athletic association has strict rules about their scrimmages and most can make more money by having a full game-type on their own campus at night where they can charge admission, sell concessions and possibly charge for parking.

• Baylor is breaking in new quarterbacks — sophomore Nick Tiano and junior Michael O'Conner -- and the two combined to complete just two passes in six attempts. It wasn't the auspicious debut either wanted but one sideline observer suggested that it's the receivers running other than precise routes that is causing part of the completion problems.

• Kelvin Wells, the Walker Valley transfer, was impressive in his McMinn County debut, averaging 10 yards per carry in the Cherokees' 16 minutes against Baylor. The quarter was cut short by lightning.

• One has to wonder about the turf at Finley Stadium, home for Mocs football. There appeared to be several shallow divots anywhere from six inches to a foot in width where the sand base under the artificial surface has apparently settled.

• Soddy-Daisy showed up in pants that had a digital "camo" stripe down each leg with their Trojans nickname worked into the camouflage.

"You may never see those again," Soddy-Daisy coach Kevin Orr said.

But then again, you might.

"The kids like them and it's all about them, but we'll see," he added.

• Junior Chad Toliver showed up on both sides of the ball in McCallie's outing with Soddy-Daisy and the first impression is that he is an excellent second-effort runner. He also broke up a pass.

Along the McCallie defensive front, two numbers you're likely to notice often are No. 75 (junior Cameron Walker) and No. 62 (senior Julian Nunally). They're not overwhelming physical specimens but they get the job done. Walker batted down a pass and Nunally had a sack.

By the way, approximately two-thirds of the McCallie roster was freshmen and sophomores -- good down-the-road news for Blue Tornado fans.

• Bradley senior quarterback Bryce Copeland showed new ill effects from the broken ulna and radius that knocked him out of the Bears' playoff game last season. His passes were pretty much on target and, well, he still has the quick feet.

One must wonder what opponents are going to do with Austin Sanders', the Bears' 6-foot-6, 300-pound and Tennessee committed left tackle. In his initial senior showing under the lights, no defender came close to penetrating his pass protection. All but once, the play ended with his man on the ground. And there was one play where he took out two defenders.

• No surprise after seeing him in action early last year against Soddy-Daisy, but Red Bank quarterback Hagen Wilkey looked more polished and did a good job of managing the offense. It appears that the Lions also have an accomplished group of receivers.

Defensively, Nick Burnette (No. 52) is going to show up often. He isn't 6-4 and 270 but he plays big and Lions coach E.K. Slaughter describes him as "mean and tough."

• As quarterbacks go, Rhea County's Krischan Goins looks pretty sharp with his throws and a receiver to watch is Demitrius Patterson. He'll come in handy if defenses give too much attention to senior running back Desmond Sharp.

Dynamite dozen member Jacob Reavis, a college prospect as an offensive lineman, spent most of the quarter on defense but his one play on offense came when Goins tossed his touchdown pass against Tyner.

• One of the most imposing figures to walk onto the field Friday was Tyner's David Patterson, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound defensive tackle. Bet dollars to doughnuts that he'll draw at least a double-team every time the ball's snapped. He gets off the ball in a hurry and if he shows out as he did Friday he should be considered a big-time prospect that has thus far slipped through the cracks.

• Another big man to watch is Howard's Brandon Walters (6-8, 290). When he wants, he is a definite force, especially on defense, and he has the ability to be an outstanding left tackle offensively at the next level. He has a tendency to immediately stand up on defense and occasionally wastes his time on a spin move rather than a flat out bull rush.

• He didn't play Saturday but East Ridge has a transfer from Tampa Hillsborough, one of Florida's traditional high school powers. Dewayne Foxworth looks to be about 6-2 and at least 190 pounds but first-year coach Tracy Malone hasn't yet seen him in practice so one doesn't know if he'll be a running back, a linebacker, a tight end or a defensive end. But he has the looks of a football player.

• Brainerd was without one of its key components. Versatile Tre Davenport, who'll show up at running back and receiver on offense and in the defensive secondary, has been out with an ankle injury. He hurt it in an AAU basketball tournament in Indianapolis and coach Stanley Jackson doesn't know if he'll be available for the Panthers' home opener Friday against Ooltewah.

• Hixson, like Baylor, is still in a quarterback battle with Preston Wilkey and Gill Brown apparently taking it to the wire before new coach Jason Fitzgerald settles on a starter.

"We'll stay with two until somebody separates himself," the coach said.

The Wildcats have found a strong tackle candidate in junior Charles Franklin, who has moved down after spending most of 2011 at tight end.

While Allante Novene is a sure thing as a receiver, Hixson opponents also are going to have to keep an eye on running back Trey Coleman, a freshman who already is showing cut-and-run ability. He gets to the corner quickly.

• For a Class A team, Silverdale Baptist is huge in the lines and the Seahawks have an established quarterback in Spencer Mossburg. He has a huge target at tight end in Colton Rogers. Coach Al Rogers' son, who's somewhere close to 6-3 and 245 had some coaches thinking his team had run a tackle-eligible play.

about Ward Gossett...

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 ...

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