published Friday, September 5th, 2014

Tonight's greater Chattanooga area high school football matchups

All kickoffs at 7:30 Eastern unless noted

* district/region game

* BLEDSOE COUNTY WARRIORS (1-1) at SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES (2-0)

Storyline: Both teams entered the year looking for a quick start. Signal Mountain has made it, but Bledsoe last week ran into Class 2A power Marion County's potent run game. Speedy and sure-handed receivers have given Signal defenses problems in the past and the passing game may be the Warriors' single hope for an upset or at least keeping this one close. They'll be tackling another high-octane, ground-and-pound Eagles offense keyed by RBs Skye Wilson, Hunter VanDyken, Kaleb Menzel and Nathan Johnson.

* CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (2-0) at EAST RIDGE PIONEERS (0-2)

Storyline: While their offense has struggled a little, the Pounders still have gotten off to an unexpected perfect start. East Ridge, meanwhile, floundered against unbeaten Walker Valley, a Class 5A team, and Class 3A state-ranked Notre Dame. Central is proud of its defense thus far, but the Pounders have to contend with veteran Pioneers quarterback JoJo Tillery, a run/pass specialist.

* NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (1-1) at CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN CHARGERS (2-0)

Storyline: CCS has been here before, but with new coach Rob Spence there is seriously a sense of accomplishment although the Chargers have played winless teams Grace Academy and Lookout Valley. In the Irish, CCS will be facing a multipronged offense with QB Alex Darras, WR Kareem Orr and RB Auston Banks, and a stiff defense anchored by L Joe Dossett and LB Tyler Enos. Chargers leaders thus far have been QB Zach Mercer, RBs D.J. Toney and T.J. Smith and LB Cam Aldridge.

* HIXSON WILDCATS (1-1) at TYNER RAMS (0-1)

Storyline: Tyner struggled mightily last week against Signal Mountain, getting beat 35-0, while Hixson earned its first win by defeating traditional state 1A power South Pittsburg. The Rams' defense must play assignment football to have a chance at slowing the Wildcats' veer-style offense that boasts an experienced line, QB Preston Wilkey and RBs James Cole, Marshall Cooper and Tarik Twitty-Humphrey. Hixson won this one a year ago, propelling a run to the District 6-AA championship.

* RED BANK LIONS (1-1) at BRAINERD PANTHERS (0-2)

Storyline: After taking on Class 5A power Ooltewah and Division II East/Middle-Region unbeaten Baylor, the Panthers finally get back in their own neighborhood in the District 6-AA game for them and the Lions. It could be speed vs. speed, skill vs. skill in Brainerd's home opener, which could be a high-scoring affair if the Panthers can throw at all.

* SALE CREEK PANTHERS (0-2) at SOUTH PITTSBURG PIRATES (0-2), 8

Storyline: This is Sale Creek's second season and the Panthers have yet to win a game, and now they're being asked to visit a longtime Class 1A powerhouse that has been humbled two straight weeks. While in reality Sale Creek is hoping to get through the game in healthy fashion, the Pirates want to get healthy with a "W" and return to the postseason path.

* SEQUATCHIE COUNTY INDIANS (1-0) at GRUNDY COUNTY YELLOW JACKETS (1-1), 8

Storyline: Sequatchie County steamrolled Community two weeks ago behind sophomore Adam Pickett and junior Brandon Rudd. The Indians defense will have to be aware of the Yellow Jackets' inside-slant passing game keyed by QB Houston Mainord. Grundy faced a stiff running game in a 27-point loss to Marion County to open the season, and Indians coach Ken Colquette loves a ball-control offense almost as much as he disregards a passing game.

* WHITWELL TIGERS (1-1) at MARION COUNTY WARRIORS (2-0)

Storyline: New coaches -- the Tigers' R.C. Helton and the Warriors' Ricky Ross -- upbeat teams and high-octane fan attitudes are fueling the rivalry. These schools are in the same county and are looking to supplant the neighborhood's usual bully, South Pittsburg. For each, this is prelude to a possibly bigger game down the road. It could be a relatively fast game with each already having established much more than just a penchant for the running game.

BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (0-2) at FRANKLIN ROAD ACADEMY PANTHERS (1-1)

Storyline: Boyd-Buchanan's rugged early-season schedule continues, and injuries to key players such as E.J. Matthews, Jeremy Borders and Eli Legg haven't helped subdue any frustration. The good news is that all are expected back, and the Bucs' first District 5-A game isn't until Oct. 3. Coach Grant Reynolds is looking for defensive improvements and some first-down pass completions this week. FRA is good at linebacker, and the longtime I-formation team has switched to a wing-T offense this year.

* COPPER BASIN COUGARS (1-1) at SILVERDALE BAPTIST ACADEMY SEAHAWKS (2-0)

Storyline: This should be a physical District 5-A game. The Cougars like to use the run to set up the pass and have scored 61 points so far. The Seahawks are proponents of keeping the ball away from the opposition, and the main way that's done is by having success running it. So far they've finished drives often enough to have totaled 73 points. Foiling the other's plans is the challenge for both stop units.

DAVIDSON ACADEMY BEARS (2-0) at GRACE ACADEMY GOLDEN EAGLES (0-2)

Storyline: The Bears' unique approach includes running a no-huddle offense, albeit not necessarily a hurry-up one, while playing a defense with only two down linemen but with eight in the tackle box. Grace coach Bob Ateca said his team played a lot better in its second game, but he still has some concerns with tackling. QB Jared Thompson threw for 132 yards and ran for 85 last week. Logan Groves has been a mainstay on both sides of the line.

* McMINN CENTRAL CHARGERS (2-0) at SEQUOYAH CHIEFS (1-1)

Storyline: The Chargers are riding high into their first District 5-AA game against a big, physical Sequoyah team. The Chiefs want the ball in the hands of Kayne Roberts, who already has 436 rushing yards, including 250 in last week's loss to Class AAA Walker Valley. McMinn Central coach Josh Goodin said his team must match Sequoyah's physical presence and aggressiveness. MLB Hunter Stokes should have plenty of opportunities to add to his tackles total. Leading rusher Jackson Long is coming off a 179-yard game.

* MEIGS COUNTY TIGERS (0-1) at GREENBACK CHEROKEES (2-0)

Storyline: First-year Meigs coach Jason Fitzgerald said his team must take advantage when in certain situations and avoid even little mistakes to be competitive. Fellow District 3-A member Greenback features senior all-purpose player Jordan Anderson, a 2013 all-state selection who had 114 rushing and 122 receiving yards in last week's win over Class AA Gatlinburg-Pittman. The Tigers are hoping this is the week they get back Dakota Ricker, who has been recovering from shoulder surgery. He would add speed at either RB or WR.

* McMINN COUNTY CHEROKEES (0-2) at CLEVELAND BLUE RAIDERS (0-2)

Storyline: Both teams took steps in the right direction last week. Cleveland rallied from a 27-point deficit before succumbing 30-24 to Cookeville. The Raiders will play without senior T.J. Parker, who will sit out with a lingering injury, but regain classmate Raekwon Bunion, who returns from a broken hand suffered during the summer. The Cherokees have seen success in their run game, led by D.J. Kimpson, who is averaging 10.5 yards on 30 carries this season.

* RHEA COUNTY GOLDEN EAGLES (1-0) at WHITE COUNTY WARRIORS (1-1), 8

Storyline: The Golden Eagles pummeled White County a season ago by using their ground game. This season's team has been slightly more balanced. They ran for 230 yards and threw for 166 in a 42-6 victory over Coffee County. The Warriors struggled to move the ball in a 34-7 loss to Livingston Academy, having lost a lot from a Class 5A state-playoff team from a year ago.

* SODDY-DAISY TROJANS (2-0) at OOLTEWAH OWLS (2-0)

Storyline: The Trojans' offense, which has averaged 46 points and 478.5 yards in wins over Hixson and Red Bank, faces a huge test against an Owls defense that returned nine starters from a year ago and has athletes all over the field. The biggest test could be seeing how Ooltewah's QB platoon system of London Elrod and Kelvin Leon fares. Both have led their team to a win this year.

* WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS (2-0) at EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES (0-2)

Storyline: The Mustangs look for what could be considered the biggest win of the Glen Ryan coaching era tonight against the Hurricanes. Although having switched from the wing-T to the spread offense, the Mustangs' success still has been on the ground, led by Alex King and QB Josh Jones. The Hurricanes dropped their second straight game at Dobyns-Bennett, having been gashed for 320 yards rushing. The Indians ran the ball on 54 of their 63 plays.

* MONTGOMERY BELL ACADEMY BIG RED (2-0) at BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (2-0)

Storyline: The Red Raiders continue to add weapons around senior quarterback Nick Tiano, who has completed better than 60 percent of his throws and has four touchdown passes in 21 attempts through two games. Linebacker Ryan Parker fits the mold of a Baylor defensive difference-maker, and Colin Brewer is a weapon as a punter and a kicker.

* McCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (2-0) at POPE JOHN PAUL II KNIGHTS (3-0)

Storyline: The Blue Tornado have been a category-5 force on offense, averaging 46.5 points in their two wins -- each of which was cut short by the running clock mercy rule. While quarterback JaVaughn Craigh gets a load of press -- understandably so, since he is averaging better than 24 yards per carry so far this year -- senior fullback Alex Trotter (234 yards rushing and four TDs) has been the central point of the attack.

HERITAGE GENERALS (0-1) at LAKEVIEW-FORT OGLETHORPE WARRIORS (0-1)

Storyline: This Catoosa County battle could well hinge on the first few possessions. Each team, coming off poor first halves, needs a quick start. The Generals showed some fight in coach E.K. Slaughter's first game last week after getting down big early to Ringgold. QB Dylan Bice, knocked out of the game early, came back to lead two late scoring drives, and rangy receiver Christian King emerged as a threat. The Warriors had three first-half drives end empty-handed deep in Gordon Lee territory last week to let a close game get away. Backs Jesse Flanagan and Sharman Catoe will be relied on to finish drives, and WR Sam Eaves will try to get deep against a Heritage defense geared to stop the run.

CARROLLTON TROJANS (0-2) at CALHOUN YELLOW JACKETS (1-0)

Storyline: Coach Hal Lamb isn't fooled by the visitors' record, coming at the hands of Class AAAAAA's Kell and Newnan. Last season's Georgia AAAA runners-up, the Trojans have a new coach in Ed Dudley, a new offense (the pistol) and defense, but they still have RB Jarvis Terrell and are huge along both lines. Junior QB DeMarcus Mitchell will have to prove he can throw it to loosen a Calhoun defense coming off an impressive showing at Dalton. The Jackets offense will have to do its part tonight. QB Kaelen Riley did enough to rally them last week but will have to have a clean game. Expect more controlled short passes and inside keepers as Lamb and staff try to get backs Olico Dennis and Cole Jackson into the flow early.

CEDARTOWN BULLDOGS (0-1) at NORTHWEST WHITFIELD BRUINS (0-1)

Storyline: The Bulldogs, a Bruins region foe the last four years, no longer have Nick Chubb, and it showed last week against Hiram in a 34-14 loss. The offense now revolves around QB Harrison Barnett and RB Kaelin Glover. Northwest has a strong chain-mover in senior QB Caleb Shiflett, but the Bruins need more big plays and will try to get Jamon Horne and Clay Phillips more involved tonight.

GORDON CENTRAL WARRIORS (0-1) at SOUTHEAST WHITFIELD RAIDERS (2-0)

Storyline: Losers of 10 games last year, the Warriors were one play away from winning last week against LaFayette and displayed several bright spots. The running game, featuring Noah Bingiel and Dakota Maddox, was effective and the defense appeared much improved. The Raiders, coming off a nail-biting win over Murray County, are wondering which team will show up tonight. Is it the one that dominated Coahulla Creek or the one that committed 21 penalties last week? In QB Will Swantic, RB Tyler Brown (135 yards last week) and WR Colter Faith, the Raiders have the weapons to roll if they clean things up.

ARMUCHEE INDIANS (0-2) at COAHULLA CREEK COLTS (0-1)

Storyline: The Indians have allowed 78 points, while Chad Barger's Colts gave up 44 in a week-one setback against Southeast Whitfield, so both defenses have been put on notice. Armuchee will rely on the playmaking of QB Seth Stanley, who has a nice target in WR Dalton Sharpe. The Colts will have QB Luke Brock back at full strength after a first-half shoulder injury and will look to get the ground game going. Leading tackler Baley Jones likewise will play after also having an injury scare.

CHRISTIAN HERITAGE LIONS (0-1) at MODEL BLUE DEVILS (2-0)

Storyline: Christian Heritage had a week to regroup after a thrashing by Landmark Christian and now has to face a hot Model team coming off a win at Sonoraville. The Lions, a Class A playoff team last year, suffered heavy graduation losses, the biggest at QB, where Tyson Cooper is trying to replace Trevor Brown. Cooper had three interceptions in the first week and will have to get on track if the Lions are to stay with the Blue Devils and powerful RB Nakyle Watkins. The 5-10, 215-pound senior, who missed last season with a torn ACL, eclipsed 100 yards in both games.

CHATTOOGA INDIANS (0-1) at NORTH MURRAY MOUNTAINEERS (0-1)

Storyline: The Indians displayed a strong defense in last week's loss to Ridgeland, allowing a little more than 200 total yards, but a mistake-prone offense did them in. QB Isaac Foster and RB cousin Isaiah are the main running threats and will face a North Murray defense that allowed 268 rushing yards to Rockmart. The Mountaineers, full of offensive weapons in QB Hinton McConkey, RB Drake McCowan and WRs Payton Swilling and Jordan Adams, have to clean things up after amassing 245 yards in penalties last week.

LAFAYETTE RAMBLERS (1-0) at GORDON LEE TROJANS (1-1)

Storyline: The Ramblers won 8-6 last week against Gordon Central. It wasn't pretty. This time, they face a team on a mission. The Trojans lost to a rival in Trion but rebounded and beat another in Lakeview Fort-Olgethorpe.

MURRAY COUNTY INDIANS (0-1) at FANNIN COUNTY REBELS (0-1)

Storyline: Momentum is needed. The Rebels were whipped last weekend by a school in a larger classification. The Indians seem to be on the road to redemption.

ROCKMART ?? (1-0) at SONORAVILLE PHOENIX (0-1)

Storyline: The Phoenix are hurt after losing to a Region 7-AA school, Model, last week. They start playing comparable competition this week, which could lead to a little bit of success.

DADE COUNTY WOLVERINES (1-0) at ROBBINSVILLE (N.C.) BLACK KNIGHTS (2-0)

Storyline: Dade's Wolverines are poised for an outstanding seaon, but the Black Knights have scored more than 42 points in their first two games. This is a test but not a mid-term for the visitors.

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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