Friday, Aug. 29
(All kickoffs at 7:30 Eastern unless noted)
Bradley Central at Murfreesboro Riverdale, 8
Brainerd at Ensworth, 8
Central at Polk County
Chattanooga Christian at Lookout Valley
Cookeville at Cleveland
Copper Basin at Hayesville, N.C.
East Hamilton at Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett
Grace Academy at Grundy County
Knoxville Webb at Baylor
Marion County at Bledsoe County
McCallie at McMinn County
McMinn Central at Boyd-Buchanan
Midway at Whitwell
Notre Dame at East Ridge
Ooltewah at Siegel
Red Boiling Springs vs. Sale Creek, TBD
Rhea County at Coffee County, 8
Signal Mountain at Tyner
Silverdale Baptist at Community
Soddy-Daisy at Red Bank
South Pittsburg at Hixson
Stratford at Howard
Sweetwater at Meigs County
Walker Valley at Sequoyah
Fort Payne at New Hope, 8
Guntersville at North Jackson, 8
North Sand Mountain at Dade County
Scottsboro at Sparkman, 8
Valley Head at Ider, 8
Calhoun at Dalton
Heritage at Ringgold
LaFayette at Gordon Central
Ridgeland at Chattooga
Southeast Whitfield at Murray County
Lakeview-F.O. at Gordon Lee
North Murray at Rockmart
Model at Sonoraville
North Sand Mountain at Dade County
Trion at Armuchee
If the TSSAA insists on continuing with "Week 0" then it needs to put special emphasis on watering the troops.
The majority of teams will have played two games before Labor Day when heat and humidity are traditionally hot topics. Regardless, players have to learn even if coaches have to threaten corporal punishment.
While there were only a handful of heat-related problems Thursday at Marion County, there were more than a dozen players that cramped during Friday's East Hamilton-Signal Mountain game.
Message: Players have to learn to drink water, and lots of it, and not just five minutes before kickoff.
I know of one player - he had no problems with cramps - that was drinking pedialyte Friday morning. Pedialyte is most often used for younger children who have lost fluids and minerals due to vomiting or diarrhea but it does work, apparently.
And then there's the old Tyner stand-by, dill pickle juice, which the Rams carry in water bottles. They'll drink it before and during games. And, yes, there are those unfortunates who have grabbed a bottle thinking it was water and gotten a sour surprise. Pickle juice, so I'm told, is an acquired taste but players attest to the fact that it works just as well if not better than those pricy sports drinks.
• A pair of Hamilton County commissioners officiated Thursday's Grundy County-at-Marion County game. Well, one commissioner, Marty Haynes, and one about-to-be, Randy Fairbanks. They didn't work Friday night but both were seen at the Hixson/Soddy-Daisy game in support of schools from their districts. If they made a friendly wager, it is Haynes who'll be picking up the tab.
• Notre Dame will use two quarterbacks this week in its game at East Ridge. The Irish started Nicholas Coronis in their loss nip-and-tuck loss to Knox Catholic and coach Charles Fant said he performed well. Alex Darras, who'd been sidelined with a broken bone in his foot, was out of his boot and able to go and came in late in the game. Fant said both will play in the Irish's first road game.
• There is no further news on East Hamilton quarterback Nicholas Woods, who walked off the field under his own power after suffering a leg injury while being tackled by a pair of Signal Mountain players. Initial indications were that the sophomore had suffered a torn ACL. Woods was having an exceptional night with 15 completions in 21 attempts with one interception.
• The fullback is so all-fired important for McCallie, and first-year starter Alex Trotter filled the bill in the Blue Tornado's surprisingly easy win over Cleveland. The sophomore ran for 150 yards in 10 carries and probably sat much of the second half in the 44-0 rout.
• Also have to note here that Marion County's Blake Zeman ran the ball less last week but easily had another 100-yard effort. What was amazing was that Zeman, who has dropped to about 225 pounds, actually ran past a Grundy defense before smoking him on the way to the end zone. Zeman still looks quite solid on defense and should only get better once he and his teammates fully absorb a new defensive scheme.
• That Signal-East Hamilton rivalry could have gone either way, and it could easily have been a blowout. Signal won 28-19 but East Hamilton had a second-half TD called back because of a block in the back at least 20 yards behind the receiver. On one of its TDs, East Hamilton fumbled before the ball crossed the goal line. It was ruled a TD. And Signal Mountain had five fumbles, losing four, and two of those were on the center/quarterback exchange.
Coaches, teammates and parents know but there was little fanfare for Signal sophomore defensive backs Garrett Hensley and Garland Wood. Hensley was in on numerous tackles and broke up a couple of passes and Wood tipped a pass away on a crucial fourth-down play late in the game.
East Hamilton defensive back Martez Durrah, one of our Dynamite Dozen members, showed up in a big way, returning one of Signal's fumbles for a TD and chasing down a Signal runner on what would have been a long TD run. He is for real.
Two thoughts from that game - Signal is going to have to bolster its pass defense, especially in the middle of the field, and East Hamilton has got to get a whole lot more from its offensive line in order to boost its running game.
• If there's one thing Marion County learned from its win over Grundy County, it would be never to take its foot off the gas. The Warriors were up 28-0 at the half but found themselves in a much tighter game in the second half. If Ricky Ross had a disappointment in his first career head-coaching win, it would be that his team relaxed and kept JV guys from getting as much time as he would have liked.
• The Warriors could have a serious test this week when they travel to Bledsoe County in another of the "valley rivalries."
Their field, by the way, looked fantastic and one person said it was the best it had looked in years.
And if you missed it, Bledsoe's Silas Mills had three interceptions.
• Hats off to the other new coach in Marion County, Whitwell's R.C. Helton. His Tigers blistered Mt. Juliet Christian on the road, rolling up 400-plus rushing yards in a 45-7 victory.
And not to rub it in but I'm sure folks across the county are wondering when was the last time two of the county's three teams won season-openers and the winners were Marion and Whitwell.
The last time was 2004 and before that it was 2001.
• Yes, Hixson lost but did you notice coach Dan Duff's veer offense production? The Wildcats rolled up 360 rushing yards on 29 attempts. That's 12.4 yards per carry.
• Two of the Chattanooga area's AAA powers are on the road this week to the midstate - Ooltewah going to Siegel and Bradley Central played at Murfreesboro Riverdale. Too, Brainerd, still smarting from a lopsided, season-opening loss to Ooltewah, goes to Ensworth.
Top games inside Hamilton County would have to be Notre Dame at East Ridge, Signal Mountain at Tyner, McMinn Central at Boyd-Buchanan, Soddy-Daisy at Red Bank and South Pittsburg at Hixson.
South Pitt fans should get a better idea of what kind of team they'll really have when the Pirates go to Hixson, a team that upset them a year ago.
The Red Bank/Soddy-Daisy game brings Trojans coach Justin Barnes back home. Barnes was an outstanding quarterback for the Lions in the late nineties and he's bringing a pretty good quarterback (Hunter Maynor) with him. Maynor completed 13 of 18 passes for 244 yards with four TDs in a win over Hixson.
• This Friday's Georgia headliner was easy to see. It has to be Calhoun at Dalton but a close second might be Heritage, with new coach E.K. Slaughter, traveling to Ringgold to take on running backs Kile Sholl and D.L. Goins.
• Alabama teams join the Friday night festivities in full force this week. North Jackson begins the second Mark Rose era by hosting Guntersville. Fort Payne and Scottsboro are on the road but Ider is at home against neighbor Valley Head. North Sand Mountain ventures across the state line to play Dade County.
If you go to Stevenson to watch the Chiefs, keep an eye out for Octavius Matthews, who got 220 yards of offense on just seven touches in a scrimmage vs. Ardmore. Matthews ran five times for 138 yards and caught two passes for another 82 yards, finishing the scrimmage with four TDs in just two quarters.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.