published Friday, September 14th, 2012

Sale Creek holding football fundraiser

Sale Creek won't have a high school football team until it fields a junior varsity team next season, but the first big fundraising effort toward getting things started will take place Saturday.

The Sale Creek booster club is holding a social event at the school at 6 p.m. It's free to the community, but booster club president Shane Kirk said the purpose is to raise money.

"It's going to cost upward of $40,000 just to outfit that high school junior varsity team next year," Kirk said. "That's a big undertaking for a town our size."

Kirk said the middle school team and cheerleaders will be present and there will be plenty of activities for children. There will be a car crush with a sledgehammer and a dunking booth, and some door prizes will be given away.

The Florida-Tennessee game will be shown on a big-screen TV and a pep band will help lead a Sale Creek pep rally during halftime of the game. Barbecue plates will be sold for $8.

"We planned originally for 500," Kirk said. "I'd love to see us run out of food."

Grundy adjusting

It took just three games this year before Grundy County surpassed its passing totals for the entire 2011 season, and that is in spite of a change at quarterback.

The Yellow Jackets moved senior Josh Rhea from receiver to quarterback when Houston Mainord suffered a broken collarbone in the third quarter of their second game.

"We lost a good receiver but we've had some guys step up," coach Nick Bryant said. "Josh was the guy that could go deep, but he could also take a 3-yard pass and turn it into a 10- to12-yard gain."

Hayden Holland is the one everybody's talking about, Bryant said, because he is adept at short and deep routes, and first-year player Trevor Hampton has been a welcome addition.

"He's a basketball player, about 6-foot-3, 170, and so far he's scored a touchdown every game. He had three the first week," Bryant said.

Help for Jumper

Jaylen Simmons arrived just in time to make Colton Jumper's linebacker life easier. A senior transfer from Happy Valley, Simmons enters Baylor's game tonight as the Red Raiders' leading tackler with 23 solo stops and 10 assists.

"He is performing better each week, and his presence has taken some of the load off [senior prospect] Colton," Baylor coach Phil Massey said. "I had no idea what to expect when [Jaylen] arrived but we have been very pleased with his attitude and effort. He's hungry to learn and to make coaches happy. He has blended in well with the team and is becoming a leader in just a short period of time."

Pirates finally home

When South Pittsburg hosts rival Marion County tonight, it not only renews the state's oldest consecutive rivalry for the 89th time but also is the Pirates' home opener. They began the season with three straight road wins and actually haven't played at Beene Stadium since last year's playoff first round on Nov. 4.

After winning three straight playoff games on the road, the Pirates even wore the visiting white uniforms in the state-title game.

"Our team and the whole community take so much pride in making it a tough atmosphere on whoever we're playing, and it only adds to the excitement that our first game back home in so long is against [Marion County]," Pirates coach Vic Grider said. "This game stirs your emotions unlike any other on the schedule. It's been a pretty tough stretch, traveling for so many games, and I'd say the team and the town are pretty anxious to play this one at our place."

New Pioneers start

A donation from a county commissioner has allowed East Ridge to begin upgrading its football facilities.

"His check kickstarted things, and the city of East Ridge and the East Ridge parks and recreation department have jumped in along with our booster club," Pioneers coach Tracy Malone said.

The football program has a new five-player blocking sled, and there is now work under way to enhance the stadium.

"We're in the process of pressure-washing and painting the stadium, repainting the goal posts, repairing or replacing the fence around the field and replacing, remodeling or rebuilding the concession stands," Malone said. "It's a significant sign of turning things around, and we are seeing great examples of people working together and pitching in."

Copper Basin rebounding

Copper Basin is well on its way to putting the disappointment of last season behind. After two straight playoff appearances, the Cougars missed the postseason last year, finishing 3-7, but already have avenged two of those losses with wins over Sunbright and Hayesville (N.C.) and equaled last year's win total.

The Cougars (3-0), who moved up to No. 9 in this week's Class 1A state poll, have outscored their opponents 117-22 going into tonight's District 5-A opener at Silverdale Baptist. Not only is it the first league game for Copper Basin, but it's also the first road game, and five of its first six games are at home.

Baylor QBs still duel

There is still no clear-cut starting quarterback at Baylor. Coach Massey still is using both junior Michael O'Connor and sophomore Nick Tiano.

"Both have improved vastly since the beginning of camp, and both will continue to get snaps in games, and the one with the hot hand will get the majority," Massey said. "The quarterback competition has helped the intensity in practice and gives us a game-like atmosphere every day."

O'Connor had the hot hand last week and wound up taking every snap in the second half. Aside from his 98 rushing yards and one touchdown, he accounted for all of Baylor's 200 passing yards and a TD.

New coaches doing well

Eight area Tennessee programs made coaching changes before this season, and most are showing improvement in the win column. Sweetwater (4-0), Walker Valley (3-0), Marion County (3-1), Notre Dame (2-1), Hixson (2-1) and Cleveland (2-2) are off to better starts than last season, while Red Bank (1-2) and East Ridge (0-3) are still adjusting to new staffs.

Perhaps most impressive is the early work by Marion's Mac McCurry, who inherited a 1-9 program, and Walker Valley's Glen Ryan, who has the Mustangs off to the best start in the program's 11-year history. Walker Valley had won its season opener once before this year and already has equaled the win total of the previous three seasons combined.

The Mustangs visit Cleveland tonight, a team they have beaten just twice in their history and the other nine meetings losing by an average of 29 points. Walker Valley did win seven games one season.

Chiefs struggling

The most surprising winless team early on is North Jackson (0-2), which is off to the worst start in the program's 25-year history. The program has had just one losing record, finishing 3-6 in 1999, but since 2000 the fewest games the Chiefs have won in a season was eight.

Last week was the first time North Jackson had lost to Madison County, its first region loss in three years and fifth in 13 years. Tonight the Chiefs host Ardmore (2-0), another team that has never beat them.

GHSA A rankings out

The GHSA, with help from MaxPreps.com, will release power rankings for public and private Class A schools each week, and the first rankings this week revealed just how different making the postseason will be this season.

For instance, Gordon Lee is 1-1 and tied for sixth in the public school rankings with a 14.50 rating, while 2-0 Trion is 10th at 14.00 despite defeating two teams from higher classifications. The difference? Gordon Lee's two opponents, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Coahulla Creek, have combined to win three games, while Trion's two opponents, Armuchee and LaFayette, have no wins.

Teams get automatic bonus points for playing higher-classification teams. They also get bonus points for beating those teams and, whether they defeated the team or not, for every game an opponent wins.

"Our opponents don't have a win yet," surmised Trion coach Justin Brown. "Hopefully as the season goes on, Armuchee and LaFayette will have some success. I'll be rooting for them."

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