Marion County

JASPER, Tenn. — Following his team's first-half performance, first-year coach Ricky Ross thought his only concern might be a malfunctioning scoreboard.

Marion County's Ricky Ross directed his first game as a football head coach Thursday night but actually is in his second head coaching job, having succeeded Vic Grider at South Pittsburg but resigning two months later.

Storyline: Class A state finalists a year ago, the Pirates are looking for their sixth season with 10 or more wins in the last seven years.

The two-night Best of Preps high school football jamboree gets under way tonight at Finley Stadium.

History dictates that South Pittsburg again will win the District 6-A football championship.

Tickets for the the inaugural Madaris Best of Preps Kickoff Classic on Aug. 21 at Finley Stadium, matching the McCallie and Cleveland high school football teams, are on sale now at www.timesfreepress.com/kickoff. Tickets cost $8 in advance and will be $10 on the day of the game.

As someone who loves high school football, I look forward to the area tour each year. So for the 15th consecutive year, on the first day Tennessee teams are allowed to practice in full pads, I tried to visit as many area schools as possible.

It all begins anew. Winter workouts became summer conditioning, which led to 7-on-7 passing camps, and now cleats will dig into dew-soaked practice fields this morning as high school football teams across Tennessee are allowed to put on full pads and prepare for the season's kickoff.

JASPER, Tenn. — The anticipation has been building for prep football teams throughout the Chattanooga area since last season ended. Teams across the state are allowed to begin practicing in pads Monday in preparation for kickoff to the new season, which is less than four weeks away.

TSSAA Division I coaches and athletic directors from high schools in the southeastern part of the state met Thursday at Chattanooga Christian School to discuss football classification proposals and the possibility of a split between public and all private schools.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Even though the debate over a potential public/private school complete split was never mentioned openly during the two days of the TSSAA Board of Control meetings, the subject was discussed during the closed-door session, according to one board member.

Coaches and athletes in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia often lament the fact that there is very little in-season competition between area high school programs in the two states. The TSSAA and the GHSA are on different reclassification cycles, so scheduling interstate contests proves difficult.

The biggest issue facing high school sports in more than a decade is still months from being decided, but if the Chattanooga area is any indication there is a clear consensus on the public-school/private-school debate.

There were several tricky bounces in Monday's Region 3-A high school softball semifinal at Warner Park. And the last few — which proved to be the most meaningful — went Arts & Sciences' way.

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