published Monday, November 5th, 2012

Few playoff matchups in the greater Chattanooga area

The state of high school football inside Hamilton County isn't so very good, huh.

After just one week consider there is only one second-round playoff game to take place inside the county -- East Hamilton hosting Page -- and that one was supposed to be the rematch between the Hurricanes and Signal Mountain.

Of course, Marion County and McMinn County are playing at home and a handful of other local teams are on the road including Baylor and McCallie in Division II-AA, Ooltewah in Class 5A, Boyd-Buchanan and Silverdale Baptist in Class 2A and South Pittsburg in 1A.

* McMinn County (10-1) is at home against Riverdale (8-3). The Cherokees' second win in as many weeks against Bradley Central gave them their first 10-win season since 2001 when John Mullinax's bunch went 10-3 and got three games deep into the playoffs. This is the first time McMinn has a playoff win since 2009. Under Cagle, who came on board prior to the 2007 season, McMinn has five winning seasons and a 3-3 playoff record. If the Cherokees beat Riverdale and Siegel wins over Blackman, they'd travel to Siegel next week.

* Ooltewah's playoff history is somewhat limited although the Owls have been around since the mid-fifties. Their first appearance was 2000 and their first playoff game was a 10-9 win over Mt. Juliet. They lost the next week to Red Bank.

The Owls are 14-9 in playoff games including a 1-1 record last year. Their best postseason performances came in 2001, 2006 6 and 2008 when they reached the semifinals. Coach of the 2001 team and the architect of modern-day Ooltewah football was Ted Gatewood, now the coach at East Hamilton.

Though they have played 16 different teams in the postseason, the Owls have never played Lenoir City, which improved to 9-2 with a win over Walker Valley.

Lenoir City's two losses were to Bearden (8-3) and Maryville (11-0).

* Most everyone anticipated an East Hamilton-Signal Mountain rematch from the season opener and there were some folks Friday that admitted relief that Signal Mountain did the unthinkable and lost to Page in overtime. It was Signal's first home playoff loss.

East Hamilton, meanwhile, got its first 10-win season and its first playoff win by strolling past Marshall County 38-0. Kicker here is health of Hurricanes running back Logan Jackson, who suffered a knee injury in the first half against Marshall County. Coach Ted Gatewood said they'd know more about the injury some time this morning.

Figure this one out, though, Marshall County beat Page 28-27 in Week 9 despite running just 27 plays to Page's 70-plus. Word is, though, that Page had four players back for Signal that were missing against Marshall County.

The upset over a district champion last week marked the second year in a row Page has pulled that off. They knocked off unbeaten Lexington 17-6 in 2011. Page hasn't played more two postseason games since 19998 when they got to the semifinals before losing to Melrose.

By the way, the East Hamilton youngster who scored two TDs last Friday is Jacob Noorbergen, not Blake. But track coaches state-wide are probably familiar with the youngster. He is a championship-class sprinter and it was evident on his 8-yard run for East Hamilton's final TD when he sprinted to the corner of the end zone on an end around.

Notre Dame, which ousted Hixson last week, is in the playoffs for the second year in a row after a four-year drought. The Irish's win over Hixson was their first in the postseason since Charlie Wiggins' 2005 team went 13-1, winning three postseason games before losing at Livingston Academy. This year marks Notre Dame's first back-to-back postseason showings since 2004-2005.

Notre Dame will be on the road this week, traveling to Giles County (11-0). Of their regular season opponents, only four had winning records. However, Giles County scored at least 47 points in each of its last three regular season games and the Bobcats won 48-7 over Lipscomb last week.

* The only person that might be able to equal Signal Mountain coach Bill Price's angst after the Eagles' upset loss to Page Friday is quarterback Reese Phillips, whose current plan is to graduate next month and enroll at Kentucky in time for the spring semester.

Who knows if he'll know who his coaching is going to be when he gets to Lexington? Guess one just has to hope that Joker Phillips' replacement will honor commitments already made but there are local coaches who would suggest doing just that in Phillips' case.

Reese finishes his senior season with 2,254 yards, 15 TDs and four interceptions. His two-year totals are 4,149 yards with 36 TDs and just eight interceptions.

I'm sure everybody knows how Price feels about Phillips but for those who think he might be partial in his endorsement of the quarterback, here are a couple from others to consider:

"I saw the kid one time last year. He had two good receivers and was throwing nothing but stops and fades," said Notre Dame coach Charles Fant. "Our game this year, the kid made believer a of me. He took the game over and said 'You guys are not gonna beat us.' His last TD throw was an SEC play. He threw it where only his receiver could make a play on it. You just have to tip your hat to him and be a part of it."

Added Polk County's Derrick Davis, "He's the kind that can throw it in there even when you know it's coming, and that's what separates great quarterbacks from good quarterbacks."

* All of Chattanooga's 3A teams are out after the first round -- Grundy County, Tyner, McMinn Central and Polk County.

* Marion County swings into the playoffs after a first-round bye and winds up drawing a tough and playoff-savvy opponent in Trousdale County. Marion is coming off its best regular season showing since the 2008 team went 8-2 and finished the year 11-3. Troy Boeck was the guy in charge then.

It might be interesting to know how many game tapes Trousdale has on the Warriors.

Silverdale Baptist is having the best football season in its history, getting to record win No. 10 last week by beating Hampton on the road 41-8. They're playing 9-1 Knox Grace in Knoxville this week and Grace had a bye last week. Don't you reckon the Grace coaches were at Hampton last week?

Boyd-Buchanan also is on the road this week and will be making a bus ride of three-plus hours to play Oneida. The Buccaneers have played Oneida twice in previous postseason games, winning 14-10 in 1999 and 28-20 in 1998.

* In Class 1A, Copper Basin is on the road to play Greenback and South Pittsburg is going up the highway to play at Gordonsville. Both Greenback and Gordonsville had first-round byes last week.

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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