published Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

TSSAA going to 7-man crews for playoffs

The TSSAA is going from five- to seven-man on-field officiating crews for this year's football playoffs.

Actually, the seven-man crews won't be used until the third round (quarterfinals), so many of the playoff teams won't be affected. Only three Chattanooga schools -- Baylor, Boyd-Buchanan and McCallie -- have been using seven-man teams during the regular season to give the crews time to practice together, and that may be because they're willing to pay the extra officials.

"We wanted to get better coverage in a game, i.e. touchdown, no touchdown or catch or no catch," the TSSAA's Richard McWhirter said. "Our goal is to have all playoffs covered by seven-man crews, but we can't train that many the first year."

It's too bad such a rule didn't come through a couple of years ago. From Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds' perspective, the change was long overdue.

"It will prevent what happened to us versus Friendship Christian in 2011," he said of the quarterfinal game. "We tackled the FCS quarterback short of the goal line and yet they called it a touchdown. The official was out of position."

The extra officials could alleviate that problem with extra sets of eyes, although there are probably some coaches who would argue that statement.

"I think on some close calls near the sideline downfield there would be some difference," McCallie coach Ralph Potter said.

Baylor's Phil Massey thinks there will be an adjustment period.

"Initially it's an adjustment for everyone from coaches to officials," he said. "Since the game on the high school level has progressed into a more wide open-style offense, the seven-man crew will become more valuable as officials get more comfortable in their new roles. My only concern is since there are fewer people getting into officiating, will it become increasingly difficult to find enough trained and competent officials to meet the demands for a seven-man crew? And will that lend itself to confidence in the new system from coaches and supervisors?"

• McCallie's Potter is closing in on his late father's overall wins total. With 151 he is just four victories from tying his legendary Pete Potter, who posted a 155-67-4 record in tenures at Brainerd and at McCallie.

Pete coached at McCallie from 1973 to '93, and Ralph was one of the many quarterbacks he tutored.

• Someone asked if Auston Banks' 296-yard rushing performance against Boyd-Buchanan on Sept. 12 was a city record. It is not. That city single-game record belongs to Ooltewah's Blake Foster, who ran for 359 yards in 2002. Polk County's Zach Miller has the area record with 411 rushing yards in a game last year.

• Hey, McCallie fans, guess who has an open date this Friday?

That's right, Baylor. The Red Raiders will have the better part of two weeks to prepare for the Oct. 4 home date with JaVaughn Craig, Andrew Busby and friends.

Just as a matter of fact, Baylor was won four straight in the series. McCallie's last win was in 2008, 24-3, in former Red Raiders assistant Rick Whitt's second season directing the Blue Tornado.

• Although they have never met in a real game, Signal Mountain and Bradley Central did play in 2007. It was supposedly a JV game -- Signal's initial season and playing only a junior varsity schedule -- but the Eagles brought in a full officiating crew and charged admission before thumping the Bears' freshmen and sophomores. There are still some hurt feelings about that one, if not among Bradley's coaches, then among the Bears' fans.

Both Bradley coach Damon Floyd and Signal coach Bill Price are UTC football alumni. Believe it or not (after looking at Price's shoulders and forearms), both were defensive backs for the Mocs.

• As first meetings go, Cleveland and East Hamilton will lock horns for the first time on Oct. 4 at East Hamilton. That game can boast the area's top passing leaders in the Blue Raiders' Austin Herink and the host Hurricanes' Hunter Moore. Both are considered college prospects and Moore already has committed to Central Arkansas.

The two have the top five passing performances among area players this season.

• A co-worker mentioned McMinn County's schedule, which includes three state-top-five teams already played (McCallie, Cleveland, Alcoa). I'd consider Brainerd a candidate for that distinction as well. The Panthers, who are winless, have played Ooltewah, defending state champion Ensworth and Baylor, which is just a season removed from back-to-back state finals showings. Ensworth and Baylor are ranked Nos. 1 and 3 in Division II-AA while offense-happy Ooltewah is one of the area's top Class 5A teams.

• Since we mentioned Ooltewah, ever wonder which Owls coach has the most wins for the school? It's Bill Van Hooser, the school's third coach, with 51 from 1967 to '77. He coached at Ooltewah before the school moved to its current location at Mountain View Road. No. 2 is Benny Monroe with 47, and No. 3 is Ted Gatewood, the opposing coach last Friday, with 45.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

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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