A slower game could mean an even better season for Soddy-Daisy quarterback Hunter Maynor this year.
Before the 2013 District 5-AAA media day, Maynor was locked in a position battle. His prize for winning it was getting the chance to stare down the barrel of the defensive lines of the likes of Ooltewah and East Hamilton.
This time around, he's more prepared.
Maynor threw for 1,707 yards and 16 touchdowns in his first season as the QB starter. Soddy-Daisy finished 3-7 in Justin Barnes' first year as head coach and enter this season better equipped.
"The game has slowed down for me this year," Maynor said. "I can feel it. Last season was nerve-racking at times, but this year isn't as bad because I'm bigger and stronger than I was last year."
There was excitement in the early going of the 2013 season, as the Trojans beat rivals Hixson and Red Bank. The latter was their last on-field victory, however, as their only other win was a forfeit by Tyner for using an ineligible player.
With Maynor a year older and some of his weapons, including receiver prospect Tre Carter, more mature as well, the expectation is that that there won't be any repeats of how last season spiraled down the stretch.
"He was thrown into the fire last year," Barnes said of Maynor. "He now has another year under his belt and makes his reads a lot better.
"We're looking for some improvement from him coming into this season."
- Gene Henley
Head coach: Justin Barnes (3-7 here and overall)
Last year: 3-7
Returning starters (O/D/K): 7/5/0
(all games at 7:30 Eastern)
Aug. 22 - Hixson
Aug. 29 - at Red Bank
Sept. 5 - at Ooltewah*
Sept. 19 - Cleveland*
Sept. 26 - Tyner
Oct. 3 - McMinn County*
Oct. 10 - at Rhea County
Oct. 17 - at East Hamilton*
Oct. 24 - Bradley Central*
Oct. 31 - at Walker Valley*
Control panel: QB Hunter Maynor (5-10, 185, Sr.) threw for 1,707 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and is bigger, stronger and wiser after a year of experience. He also returns his top two targets from last season: Tre Carter (6-3, 175, Jr.) and Levi Thornton (5-9, 160, Sr.). LB Tyler Sullivan (5-9, 215, Sr.) is the team's strongest player and its leading returning tackler.
New producers: RB/CB Christian Bell (5-10, 175, Jr.) will get a crack in the backfield, as the Trojans' top three ground-gainers from a below-average rushing attack graduated. WR/SS Blake Smith (5-11, 175, Sr.) will get a chance to produce in the passing game, but his primary responsibilities will be on defense. WR/CB Chase Payne (5-7, 135, Jr.) will be asked to take on a larger role in the offense after playing some corner in spots last year.
By the numbers:
8 - Consecutive on-field defeats suffered by the Trojans entering this season, as their 49-30 loss to Tyner was credited as a win due to the Rams using an ineligible player.
13 - Touchdowns not scored by playmaker Tre Carter last season. The junior had 11 - nine by reception, one rushing and another on a punt return.
7 - 2013 playoff teams on the Trojans' 2014 schedule