Annual Chattanooga-area prep football tour kicks off

Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Silverdale Baptist Academy practices early Monday morning on July 25, 2022. Today is the first day that high school prep teams in Tennessee are able to practice in full pads.

After a summer of conditioning, lifting weights and 7-on-7 tournaments, prep football teams across Tennessee are allowed to begin practicing in full pads on Monday as preparation for the season - now just four weeks away - intensifies.

For the 23rd straight year the Times Free Press will tour multiple area schools on the first day of full-pads practice, and readers can follow the annual prep tour online throughout the day.

Change dominated the offseason storyline as 10 Chattanooga-area teams will have new head coaches, including Boyd Buchanan, which hired Gary Rankin, the state's all-time winningest prep coach, and Baylor, which named former University of South Carolina tight ends coach Erik Kimrey.

Rankin, who owns a 467-78 career record - which ranks fourth nationally among all active prep coaches - is the only coach in state history to win more than 400 games. He has also guided his teams to a TSSAA- record 17 state championships, including seven straight 3A titles at Alcoa before resigning after last season.

Kimrey's previous prep coaching job was at Columbia, South Carolina's Hammond School, where he guided that program to 12 state titles in 17 seasons, including a state- record six straight.

When the season kicks off Rankin will look to guide the Buccaneers past the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade and Kimrey will try to help the Red Raiders snap a six-game losing streak to rival McCallie.

The Blue Tornado and South Pittsburg will try to reload and defend last season's state titles. The Pirates made an unexpected run through Class 1A for the program's sixth championship, while McCallie has claimed the past three Division II-AAA titles.

Contact Stephen Hargis at or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.