Noting Chattanooga area prep football

Noting Chattanooga area prep football

October 12th, 2009 by Ward Gossett in Blogs

For those football teams without a home field -- like prep newcomer East Hamilton -- there are some advantages to being homeless. There's no stadium upkeep or maintenance, something coach Ted Gatewood would gladly undertake, but then there is the fact that you and your team are going to travel every Friday night for at least 10 nights. Buses, meals, early departures, early arrivals.

So believe me, when I say that Gatewood is anxious to start that stadium fund-raiser. That chore, of course, is on hold until he can at least get practice facilities for the Hurricanes' baseball and softball seasons. And there is a need for money to light all of their outdoor sports facilities.

East Hamilton's homelessness took an unusual turn this weekend. The Hurricanes were to host Howard Friday night at Tyner. Then because of the amount of rain that fell, Gatewood and Howard coach Alvin Tarver opted to wait and play Monday. And then Gatewood looked for an alternate site. He wound up getting Raymond James Stadium at East Ridge, the Hurricanes' opponent on Friday. Oh well, maybe he wanted his team to be familiar with the surroundings for its next road trip. Regardless, he told East Ridge coach Mike Martin to film the game if he wanted so they wouldn't have to swap later.

Such is the life of the homeless. Yet after a couple of daylight trips to Hamilton County's newest school where one could get a look at some of the surrounding East Brainerd real estate, raising money shouldn't be that big a problem. Maybe the pride factor will kick in to help Gatewood raise the money that's needed for football but also for baseball, softball and soccer.

Looking around Chattanooga football:

* He is playing out of position but Tyner junior Travis Jones might still become a quarterback. It's for sure that if I was putting a team together, this 6-foot, 195-pounder would be among my first picks. He is a tremendous athlete with good grades who should be a Division I prospect next season.

And talking about football players, Red Bank senior Keith Mayes is one of the hardest-hitting special teams guys I have seen. On the opening kickoff of the Lions' game a couple of weeks ago with Howard, Mayes arrived about the same time as the ball and delivered a light-up-the-sky shot that brought fans on both sides to their feet.

Then last Thursday, Mayes picked off a pass in the end zone that keyed Red Bank's 24-10 win over Tyner. And when Andy Christopher took a tooth-rattling jolt, it was Mayes that took over the offense - in some sort of "Wildcat" package and scored his team's final TD.

Another guy who has looked good to most Red Bank fans is defensive tackle Kevin Fortson, and sure to be among major prospects next year is Lions receiver Kelvin Clay, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior.

* I haven't seen Hixson quarterback/safety Zach McCarter at full speed yet -- he was slowed by a kidney problem early in the season -- but I keep hearing UTC really likes the senior as a safety.

* In mentioning players I'd like to have if I started a team, I can't go without writing something about Ringgold's versatile Martez Eastland. The senior entered the Ridgeland game averaging better than 150 yards rushing, but he can play quarterback, receiver, linebacker and defensive back and he was even kicking off last Friday night. I've heard he might like to go to Tennessee but if I'm new Mocs assistant Will Healey, I'm visiting Robert Akins, my old high school head coach, at least once per week - and specifically getting an eyeball on Eastland at every opportunity.

Two of the best players I've seen this year aren't even from Chattanooga. Those two would be Franklin Road Academy running back Doug Page, who entered Friday's games with 830 rushing yards and BGA running back Michael Moore, who gave Baylor fits early in the year and then put up 142 yards against McCallie on Friday.

Of course I'd like to have each of the aforementioned on a team I was starting, but others who'd be first-round pick considerations are Ooltewah defensive end Jacques Smith and Soddy-Daisy quarterback Scott Parrott. Each has shown his willingness and his ability to put his team on his shoulders. Ooltewah got outplayed by Maplewood a couple of weeks ago but Smith wasn't going to let the Owls lose.

Mark your calendars for the season-ending game between Ooltewah and McMinn County at McMinn.

* Copper Basin has a wild card shot at the playoffs, but the Cougars (5-2 overall) face an uphill task. Their two remaining games after back-to-back open dates this past week and this coming week are home games but they're against Lookout Valley and Boyd-Buchanan.

* While they didn't take that loss to Red Bank so well, Tyner's Rams are still looking good for the playoffs. The loss left them 3-1 in the district, meaning they are two games up on 3A rival Howard in District 6-AA. The two will play at Tyner on Oct. 23 but the deciding factor will be best overall record rather than head-to-head results.

* One of the biggest games this week will be Brainerd going to Red Bank with the 6-AA title very much up in the air. And as poorly as Red Bank played last week -- credit Tyner for some of that -- the Lions are ripe for a pasting. The only team that has been more physical with the Lions is probably Soddy-Daisy, and Red Bank had to rally late with a splurge to win that one.

* Bledsoe still has to beat Grundy County or Chattanooga Christian to lock up District 7-AA. Polk still has district games with Sequoyah and Meigs this week and on Oct. 30. Those games are sandwiched around one a game that should bring an overflow crowd to South Pittsburg on Oct. 23.

Polk might beat them, but once South Pittsburg gets in the playoffs -- and back in competition against Class 1A teams -- I don't see anybody keeping them from another state title.

If not for Trousdale County, which already is chase film on Boyd-Buchanan, I might say that the Buccaneers would walk to a state title. Trousdale is out there, though, along with McKenzie, Friendship Christian and Signal Mountain.