For the first time since he resigned at Rhea County High School almost two seasons ago, Doug Greene is going back there.
The Ooltewah football defensive coordinator will return Friday to where he was head coach for two years and, with all respect to current Rhea coach Mark Pemberton, laid much of the groundwork for the Eagles' success the past two seasons.
"The kids knew how to work and took a lot of pride in what they were doing, and they were physical," Greene said Saturday. "Mark Pemberton came in and brought the right offense."
Pemberton is a wing-T technician, and it's an offense patterned for physical and hard-working teams.
"If I had stayed, we would have been running something quite similar," Greene said.
So it is with mixed emotions that he faces Friday night's showdown of unbeatens at Evensville. While he's all in where all things Ooltewah are concerned, Greene knows all of the Eagles' seniors and juniors and had at least a small part in their development.
"You care about the kids, and that part of it won't be much fun," he admitted. "On the other hand, it should be a great atmosphere for football, something none of the participants will forget.
"When I first took the job and before the first game I was sitting up in the bleachers. Rhea County is a beautiful setting, and I later told the kids if they would just work hard they'd eventually play on a night when all they could see as far as they looked was people."
-- Looking back:
• Whitwell's season is over, ended by a loss at Trousdale County. But the Tigers and coach R.C. Helton are to be congratulated for what they accomplished this year.
• You have to be proud also of Soddy-Daisy and Bradley Central. They, too, lost Friday, but each went down swinging on the road -- the Trojans at unbeaten Oak Ridge and Bradley's Bears at once-beaten Science Hill. Each area team overcame some adversity during the year and held it together.
• Don't know how much adversity Meigs County faced this year, but first-year coach Jason Fitzgerald and his staff found a willing bunch of players. The two groups came together to give the school more wins than it had in the two previous seasons combined and its first winning season since 2007.
• Credit Central also, regardless of the loss the Purple Pounders absorbed in their season-ending playoff game at Livingston Academy. The seniors were playing under their third head coach yet recorded the school's first winning season since 2010 and only the second since 2003.
• South Pittsburg is still in, finally moving again above .500 by outlasting a determined Clay County team. That Clay County bunch, which fell 36-34, is coached by Dickie Brown, the former Bledsoe County coach who went back to Clay County after a successful stint at York Institute. As for the Pirates, well, it's the postseason and they've been so adept at finding ways to win.
• One can't look back without mentioning the gutsy Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers, who lost their first five games and then pieced together a five-game win streak to win their district and grab a playoff spot. All but a handful of those Bucs will be back, something that has to look so good to coach Grant Reynolds.
So here's the breakdown of those who are advancing from the area in the TSSAA playoffs:
Class 6A: none.
Class 5A: Cleveland, Ooltewah, Rhea County.
Class 4A: Hixson, Signal Mountain.
Class 3A: McMinn Central, Notre Dame, Red Bank.
Class 2A: Marion County
Class 1A: Copper Basin, South Pittsburg.
• According to our research, Cleveland and Oak Ridge haven't met since a two-game series in 1987-88. Cleveland won the first 21-20 in overtime, and Oak Ridge won the rematch 14-13.
We mentioned it in a story Sunday morning -- Ooltewah and Rhea last played each other in 2012, a 33-6 Ooltewah win.
• Signal Mountain never has played Loudon, which went through District 5-AA unbeaten in a 10-0 regular season. While there are no common opponents, Loudon played and beat some Chattanooga-area teams, including McMinn Central (35-7), Howard (47-6) and East Ridge (23-22). East Ridge proved to be the only team to stay within 20 points of the Redskins.
Left to its own devices -- and without TSSAA sanctions -- Signal Mountain would be perfect in not having missed the playoffs. Only the sanction season of 2011 interrupted the string. The Eagles were forced to forfeit six wins. Otherwise they would've been no worse than 8-2 if they'd entered the playoffs. Excluding that season, they're 39-10 since fielding their first varsity team in 2009, and that's a run that included a state championship (2010).
• Can't find a single time -- and our Red Bank records date back to 1943 -- that Red Bank and McMinn Central have met in football.
Can tell you that the Lions are in their first postseason since 2001 and that the last time they won a playoff game on the road appears to have been the snowy 2000 state championship game against Riverdale at Middle Tennessee State University.
McMinn Central made the playoffs two years ago and drew Alcoa in the first round. The Chargers are winless in their last 12 playoff games, beginning with a 49-29 loss to Marion County in the 1995 semifinals.
Notre Dame knows Upperman, the team the Irish will host Friday in a 3A game. It was Upperman (the Bees) that eliminated the Irish in last year's playoff quarterfinals, 19-10. While Upperman graduated at least most of its stars, at least nine-tenths of that Notre Dame team is back.
For what it's worth, Notre Dame stands 28-8 over the last three seasons, a win percentage of .788.
Marion County went to the third round of last year's Class 2A playoffs, so these current Warriors have a three-year streak of postseason performances. Have to note here that in his first year as Marion's head coach, current Signal assistant Troy Boeck took the Warriors to the semifinals before they lost 30-14 to Alcoa.
And last but not least, South Pittsburg is staring at its worst record since 2004 (3-7). However, this never-say-die bunch extended the school's postseason string to a decade.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.