So who, besides me, bit the dust over the weekend?
Excluding the Volunteers (they didn't just bite the dust, did they?), my choices to win last week probably will have me wallowing near Gene Henley -- and the bottom of the prep pickers.
Didn't think Silverdale Baptist was that good, or Grundy County that bad. They were playing on the mountain, and I figured SBA being a 1A school that plays 2A and going against a 3A team, the game being played on Central time, on the mountain and in front of a home crowd might make a big enough difference.
It wasn't. Chalk up win No. 4 for the Seahawks, who didn't just beat but hammered the Yellow Jackets 49-7.
I think the Seahawks are better than a lot of folks thought, but that was just for starters.
How about Central switching to coach John Allen's favorite offense, the wing-T, and knocking off previously unbeaten Marion County 20-19. Yeah, OK, they dodged a bullet because Marion missed two point-after kicks and a last-five-seconds field goal, but Allen's team was feeling awfully good by ending a two-game losing streak (Polk County, East Ridge). I'll bet his popularity rating is back in double digits up in Harrison.
I'll tell you now, though, Marion runner Blake Zeman is the real deal, although he doesn't look the part. He couldn't be much more than 5-foot-8 or -9, but he's a tree trunk with pretty quick legs, and he must weigh somewhere around 230 to 240 pounds. He shredded, sliced and slugged Central for a season-high 229 yards.
As a matter of fact, Zeman's effort against the Pounders and Auston Banks' showing against Boyd-Buchanan (296 yards) last week are the best in the Chattanooga area this year.
But I digress.
Knew McCallie, another unbeaten, would have a stiff test at Siegel but really thought the Blue Tornado would handle the Stars. They did, but only for three quarters, the Stars rallying from a 31-17 deficit with 17 fourth-quarter points. While they smothered McCallie quarterback sensation JaVaughn Craig, they weren't nearly as quick with his pitch options because teammates Andrew Busby and Paul Silverblatt combined for 291 yards.
Rhea County also hit the skids for the first time, surprisingly losing to Walker Valley, which also used a fourth-quarter rally (17 points) in its 24-17 victory.
Thing about the Mustangs, there really isn't a featured player, much less a featured back, which is absolutely the way coach Glen Ryan likes to run things.
Now let's see if the Mustangs can get their first win over Bradley Central. If they do, there'll be folks in Cleveland swearing that Ryan can feed multitudes steak, baked potatoes and salad on a Taco Bell budget and swim without getting wet.
Think the folks in South Pittsburg are a little happier with first-year coach Tim Moore? The Pirates slapped the option offense right out of Sequatchie County, winning 48-7. Those same folks were grumbling out loud a couple of weeks ago when their Pirates not only lost but were shut out by Hixson.
While each already has a nondistrict loss, one would be wise to mark his schedule for the District 7-AA showdown on Oct. 4 when Notre Dame goes to Signal Mountain. Both are highly explosive offensively, and each is showing signs of developing a stingy defense. The Irish got their first shutout Thursday, 26-0 over a talented Boyd-Buchanan team, while the Eagles now have back-to-back shutouts (48-0 over Bledsoe and 63-0 over Red Bank).
What the Irish have done and are doing deserves quite the pat on the back for the players and the coaching staff, because they've done it with a fullback/linebacker (Clay Heltzel) playing quarterback the past three weeks. Although he hadn't played quarterback since the seventh grade, Heltzel has shown a penchant for game management, and when Alex Darras does return from a knee injury, which could be this week, the Irish will be that much stronger.
Signal, by the way, is just five minutes from producing another point-a-minute team like it had with that state championship team of 2010. They might be there, too, if coach Bill Price hadn't pulled his starters early in the second half of each of the last two games. And folks say Price is both ruthless and merciless. He isn't, though he'd just love to coach 48 minutes of offensive football.
And slipping over the state line, how about Northwest Whitfield at 2-0? The Bruins, along with Calhoun, Gordon Lee and Trion, are still unbeaten. Gordon Lee survived a squeaker Friday, 6-2. Think coach Charlie Wiggins is saying his prayers?
The way things are going, the blood may be boiling again in the Trion-Gordon Lee rivalry. They'll play the next-to-last game of the season, Oct. 25, in Chickamauga.
• This is the absolute worst start (1-3) for Boyd-Buchanan since Grant Reynolds first took over for Robert Akins back in 2006. Those Buccaneers staggered through their first six games without a win. But the moral to this story? Those same Bucs won three of their last four and backed into the playoffs, beating Upperman 57-27 before losing to Smith County by a touchdown. So don't shed too many tears for this year's Bucs. They have yet to play a district game.
• Is East Hamilton headed for its second double-digit win season? The Hurricanes went 11-2 last year. But don't go betting the ranch. They have moved up in classification, now rubbing shoulders with 5-AAA's Cleveland, Bradley Central, McMinn County and Ooltewah. Sure, there's a big offensive line and talent in the skill positions, but can they perform up to the hype the rest of the way?
• Speaking of poor season starts, this has been a dismal beginning for Wayne Turner and his Tyner team. The Rams are winless overall and in their district. However, that 0-3 beginning isn't so unusual for the Rams. They started 2011 0-2 and 2010 and 2009 1-2. I still think this bunch is a whole lot better than they've shown, and I think they'll be playing come Nov. 8 and the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
• Hats off to East Ridge, which has rebounded nicely from its 0-2 start to even its record, and to Howard, which got its first win of 2013 with a 27-14 victory over Loudon.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
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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