Gossett blog: 2-0 teams looking back or ahead?

Gossett blog: 2-0 teams looking back or ahead?

September 2nd, 2013 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

Are Soddy-Daisy, Walker Valley and Chattanooga Christian looking back to enjoy the past two weeks or are they wise enough to put the past behind and focus on the immediate future?

They're three of the most surprising of surprise teams two weeks into the season, each with a 2-0 record but facing big-time challenges this week.

Walker Valley got to 3-0 last year (Glen Ryan's first as the Mustangs' head coach) before stumbling into the playoffs with a 5-5 record. It was their first postseason showing since 2008.

The Mustangs host East Hamilton, also 2-0, Friday night in a District 5-AAA opener while CCS and Soddy-Daisy also begin district play.

Soddy-Daisy, which began its year with victories over neighboring rivals Hixson and Red Bank, in 2008, E.K. Slaughter's lone year as the Trojans' head coach. They wound up 8-4 that year, advancing to the playoffs' second round.

They're facing an offensive machine this week, though, in Ooltewah, which threw up 584 yards in a 58-47 loss last week to Siegel.

Chattanooga Christian, which goes to Notre Dame for its first District 7-AA game, is treading in unfamiliar waters. The Chargers have never opened a season with two wins.

Are they catching Notre Dame at a good time? Irish quarterback Alex Darras was injured in the Irish's season-opening loss to Knox Catholic and sat during Friday's win over East Ridge. Who's to say if he has healed enough from a sprained and bruised knee to play this week? Last word we had was that he probably wouldn't return until Notre Dame's game next Thursday against Boyd-Buchanan. Clay Hetzel filled in fairly well and versatile Kareem Orr, who's liable to line up anywhere, picked up the slack.

• The area unbeatens list (with at least two wins) includes Ringgold, East Hamilton, Polk County, Silverdale Baptist, Marion County, Baylor and McCallie.

Silverdale (5-A), Marion County (6-A) and Polk County (5-AA) are the only unbeaten teams in their respective districts and, believe it or not, there are no unbeaten teams in District 6-AA and five of the seven are winless.

District 5-A's Copper Basin is among the teams without a win this season and the Cougars have gone down hard each of the last two weeks, losing by a combined score of 101-7.

• South Pittsburg barely avoided a shutout Friday night, losing its home opener 29-6 to Hixson. It hasn't been that long since South Pittsburg got shut out, believe it or not. The Pirates last failed to score in a game at Knoxville's Grace Christian on Oct. 28, 2011. They lost 3-0.

The loss to Hixson was the Pirates' worst since a 65-36 setback to Signal Mountain, also in 2011. The Pirates ended up 12-3 and wound up in the Class 1A state championship game that year.

• Is anybody going to be able to slow down running backs Zach Miller of Polk County, Desmond Pittman of Ooltewah or James McClellan IV of Signal Mountain?

Miller already has 387 yards, McClellan 357 and Pittman 337 just two games into the season. Best single-game performance to date belongs to Pittman (222 yards, 32 carries) and Ringgold quarterback Slade Dale (222, 30 carries in three-overtime win). Top passing performance, and it probably won't be topped, belongs to Cleveland quarterback Austin Herink, with a 478-yard showing.

• While that South Pittsburg loss likely fueled criticisms of new coach Tim Moore (which in my mind are grossly unfair), it most definitely reignited Hixson, which suffered an unexpected loss to Soddy-Daisy in its season opener.

The Wildcats open District play this week and it just happens to be one of those games one wishes was the final week of the season because Hixson and Tyner, its opponent this week, figure to be the top two representatives in District 6-AA entering the playoffs. Will Hixson be unsung or undone?

In addition to quarterback Haasan Miller, Hixson better be preparing for receiver Rodney Watson and running back Sadik Spence. The Rams were supposed to be undersized this year, at least by Tyner standards, but they didn't look so small to me, and they have even more team speed than in years past. They also have a capable point-after kicker (Kevin Cortes). And, yes, they fared better than I thought they would against the huge and physical Signal lines. By the way, Signal Mountain looks better defensively than it has, maybe since the school fielded its first varsity team five years ago.

• It's still up in the air as to whether or not Baylor coach Phil Massey will have to miss Friday's game at MBA. Massey was ejected from the Red Raiders' game at Knox Webb after a second sideline warning by an official. In many cases in Tennessee, an ejection automatically brings with it a one-game suspension and a $250 penalty.

When contacted Sunday, Massey said he did not know whether he'd have to miss next week.

He didn't criticize the official that got him ejected, didn't even mention it, but it is ludicrous that a coach should be ejected by an overzealous Friday night sheriff for a rule that is little more than a national protect-your-organization-from-lawsuits edict.

I won't take it any further than to say that every football official needs little more than common sense and a very firm belief that he's only part of a supporting cast and should most often go unnoticed. It's time for all high school athletic associations to lend a serious ear to the coaches regarding officials' actions regardless of the sport.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs when folks start referring to these guys as sideline Nazis.

• As officiating goes, here's another one for you. It happened last week during a TSSAA-sanctioned game, and anybody that's played the game knows that it happens at least occasionally. A player was punched in the privates and let slip one very spicy word. The injured player earned his team a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Understood. But this particular player had undergone surgery this past summer and, while cleared by doctors to play, was still tender. My question: Was anything done to the privates-punching player and was his coach apprised of and then warned against further such behavior?

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