South Pittsburg and Baylor, 2011 state championship runners-up, are ranked first and second in their respective divisions in the initial Tennessee high school football poll for 2012.
South Pitt's Pirates (1-0) have been to three straight state finals and won the Class 1A championship in 2010. Baylor (2-0) has reached Division II state finals the past two seasons.
Also in Division II, McCallie is ranked seventh. Boyd-Buchanan came in No. 3 in Class 2A, East Hamilton No. 7 in Class 4A and McMinn County No. 8 in Class 6A.
Area teams receiving votes include Bradley Central (6A), Signal Mountain (4A), Tyner (3A) and Lookout Valley (1A).
Whittens given surprise
Gordon Lee's home football scrimmage last Friday against LaFayette had a special guest -- and a big surprise.
LaFayette sophomore Austin Whitten, who was paralyzed from the neck down after a swimming accident in June, was in attendance with his parents. The Whittens were surprised with a check at halftime for $3,600 -- money raised in a combined effort by students at Gordon Lee High School, the middle school and Chickamauga Elementary. Another $500 was collected at the gate.
Whitten has been in rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, and the family says he is making good progress.
CCS wins own tourney
The Chattanooga Christian soccer team outscored three opponents 11-1 this past weekend and won the tournament it hosted.
After a 5-0 quarterfinal victory over Tennessee High on Friday, the Lady Chargers (3-1) defeated Tullahoma 3-0 and then beat Powell 3-1. Hannah Henry and Ashley Simmons each scored twice.
Cleveland finished 2-1. The Lady Raiders had a 3-2 shootout victory over Science Hill, a 3-1 loss to Powell and a 2-0 win over Tullahoma.
McMinn Central lost to Powell and Science Hill before taking seventh place with a victory over Tennessee High.
In Baylor's tournament, the hosts and Notre Dame each went 1-1-1 and GPS finished 2-1. The Bruisers' loss was 2-0 to Oak Ridge, the only team to finish the tournament unbeaten.
Davidson hangs it up
Connor Davidson, Baylor's leading running back in 2011, has quit. Davidson stepped up last year after injuries to George Porter and Houston Clements and gained 757 yards on 116 carries. He was second on the team behind quarterback Matthew Oellerich, who ran for 916.
Changes for Pioneers
East Ridge football coach Tracy Malone has faced some defections and taken up some jerseys.
"There really is not too much to say. My staff and I are instilling high standards and tougher discipline than our kids are accustomed to," Malone said. "With the coaching changes there are going to be differences in how things are done and what's deemed acceptable by the new staff."
He said most of the team had accepted the changes but some have left the program by their own choosing or at his behest. And some remain provisionally.
"After the game Friday at Boyd-Buchanan [a 35-0 loss], we had three seniors whose status on our team was in question. After lengthy discussions between them, myself and our staff, they have been granted reinstatement to the team under strict guidelines of conduct," Malone said. "There are no guarantees that they will get to play, and we feel they have to earn the right to be a Pioneer starter again."
Malone said there was open competition for all positions and sophomore JoJo Tillery has replaced Eric McCurdy at quarterback.
Lady Raiders second
Cleveland's volleyball team finished second in the bronze bracket of the Early Bird Tournament in Knoxville this past weekend. Eva Wilhelm had 21 digs, Marissa Langford and Cassie Hale had 13 and eight kills and Kellee Geren and Kayla Lee had 12 and 11 assists in the Lady Raiders' final match against Stone Memorial. Geren also served three aces.