published Monday, September 24th, 2012

Gossett blog: Area coaches relish first win of season

Stanley Jackson ate breakfast Saturday morning and it was not one of the specials offered by Denny's IHOP or Waffle House.

It might have been deserved after his Brainerd Panthers ended their losing streak the previous night with a victory over Knoxville's Austin East.

"Nothing special, but it did taste a little better," he said. "You hate to get [the first one] this late in the season but it's a win."

Meanwhile, Central's John Allen went about his Saturday morning chores as usual -- straightening up the locker room, cleaning the toilets and washing uniforms.

"Just cause you win doesn't change things, at least not yet," the Pounders coach said the morning after his Pounders also ended their season-long losing streak with an overtime victory at Soddy-Daisy. "I'm happy we won, but, no, things don't change.

"I guess I'm not stressing as much about fumbling on the 20 against Howard [at a point when a winning TD might have come two weeks previously, or losing at Polk in a game I thought we won."

Yet neither his approach nor Jackson's will change, and they don't expect their players to change either.

"Last week was a great week of practice. I told them the past had passed," Allen said. "I told them we just had to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. The guys played hard. I was proud.

"Sure, there was pressure on them and there's a world of difference in heartbreak and seeing them smile. They're good kids so for me it's a nice sigh of relief. I love seeing them smile, and it's always easier to make corrections when you win."

Jackson spent the morning washing uniforms and them preparing and swapping tape with Mike Calloway, the Howard coach whom his Panthers will face Friday.

"Yeah, it's easier to get motivated after you win, especially when you consider what we have been through, but I think everything [in practice] will stay the same. We haven't been down in practice. The kids come to work every day and we're going through the process of growing up."

With Central and Brainerd getting wins last week and Howard and Chattanooga Christian the week before, the number of winless teams has shriveled to Dade County, East Ridge, Meigs County, Murray County, Heritage, Lafayette, Scottsboro and Southeast Whitfield.

• And what of the undefeated? That list is down to Boyd-Buchanan, Calhoun, Fort Payne, Gordon Central, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and North Sand Mountain.

Gordon Central will play at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Friday night.

• North Jackson got back to .500 Friday with a 56-14 win over DAR, and, no, it wasn't all Kitt Grider's passing. He had a pair of TD tosses but North Jackson rushing for 297 yards without a single back reaching the 100-yard plateau.

• Tyner has had just one back (Joseph Sturkey) rush for 100 yards this season and the Rams' passing game is virtually nonexistent, so it shouldn't be a big secret that they're making a living, and a 4-1 start on defense.

They stumbled badly against McCallie, but have allowed just 31 points in the other four and that includes 27 in a close win over Signal Mountain and two shutouts.

The Rams will be at home this week against upstart Hixson, which had a two-game win streak snapped Friday at unbeaten and state-ranked DeKalb County.

For historians' sakes, it's been a while since Hixson beat the Rams in this on-and-off series. It was 1991 under Bob Sanders and the Wildcats' 12-7 victory was one of two for them that season. So how long ago was that really? Wayne Turner's first year as the Rams' head coach.

• Congrats to Bradley Central, which kept Blackman from claiming it owned Chattanooga. Blackman entered the game with lopsided wins over Signal Mountain and Ooltewah, but the Bears bested Blackman 23-21 Friday.

When asked about a game MVP, Bradley coach Damon Floyd said, "The whole team probably."

• With its three wins this year — No. 3 coming Friday over Bledsoe County — McMinn Central has tripled the number of wins it managed in 2011 (1-9) and 2010 (0-1) combined.

• Ever wonder how long Bill Price has been a head coach or where he started?

Price, now Signal Mountain's first and only coach, began what has become a 30-year head-coaching career at Lookout valley in 1984. They hadn't had a winning season in five years and he gave them two before moving to Lakeview.

Price has never been one to stay anywhere very long and his career also covers stops at Soddy-Daisy, Hueytown, Bradley Central and Coffee County and he is actually the dean of Chattanooga area coaches.

To see the bulk and those Popeye-like forearms on him now you'd never believe he was a high school quarterback (yeah, Gary Partrick made him famous) for Red Bank's Tom Weathers or a safety for Bill Oliver at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga from 1980-82.

• Did you notice Gordon Lee is now 3-1 on the year? Do you know what offense they're running? What if I said Charlie Wiggins was the coach? Would you know then that the Trojans are in Wiggins' up-tempo version of a spread?

Wiggins had the same thing during his days at Notre Dame and got that team to the state quarterfinals.

• Speaking of Notre Dame, the Irish, under Charles Fant, are off to their best start (5-1) since Wiggins' 2006 team went 8-1 through its first nine games. His 2005 team went 11-1.

The Irish face a huge challenge Friday when they host Signal Mountain in what could be the game that decides the District 7-AA championship.

• Sure you know by now that Baylor managed its fourth straight win over McCallie, but did you ever wonder how the teams fare the game after their bragging rights battle?

Over the past five seasons, Baylor is 1-4, McCallie 2-3.

• If you want to see a dirty player, go watch Boyd-Buchanan. No, not dirty as in cheap shot dirty but dirty as in down-and-dirty. Rance Harden is a two-way player for the unbeaten Bucs and he's the guy that gets the gut-wrenching yards up the middle or even outside the tackles and the long-gainer-choking tackles.

• Top-ranked in Class 4A, Giles County was without head coach David O'Connor last week and this open week of practice and will be without him again this week and Friday's Sept. 28 game due to improper contact with a player at another school.

According to the Tennessean, O'Connor is serving a two-week suspension and the school will serve a self-imposed two-year probation and pay a $1,000 fine.

Giles County, which self-reported the incident, said the violation stemmed from a series of text messages between O'Connor and a player at Marshall County that were initiated by the player. However, according to Giles County principal Mark Cardin, Giles gave "inappropriate responses" and failed to direct the student to those at Giles County that deal with the admission process.

Giles County, for the next two years, also will have its spring and preseason scrimmages reduced and will not participate in preseason jamborees next year or in 2014. It will go without 7-on-7 competition in 2013 and will lose five practice days next spring.

• It doesn't happen often but a head coach had a one-game suspension lifted and a $250 fine overturned after an appeal to the TSSAA.

Eagleville coach Steve Carson was ejected after an assistant had been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Then Carson received an unsportsmanlike flag and was ejected.

The fine and suspension were overturned because Carson was ejected for the unsportsmanlike flag on his assistant and also for his own flag.

The unsportsmanlike penalty on his assistant does not apply to the head coach, thus the reversal.

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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