Although Baylor School's 2023 football schedule currently includes just three games not at its Heywood Stadium, this week's transatlanic trip will be by far the furthest away from home any team in Tennessee will play all season.
It's the trip of a lifetime for many of the players as the Red Raiders made the flight of seven-plus hours Tuesday to Dublin, Ireland — covering nearly 4,000 miles — to prepare for Friday night's game against New Jersey's Seton Hall Prep.
The matchup, which is one of three prep games to be played Friday as part of the Global Ireland Football Tournament, will be held at Energia Park in Donnybrook Stadium, with Baylor's kickoff set for 10:30 a.m. Eastern.
"There's a Baylor alum who works for Global Football, and they approached us about the game," Red Raiders second-year coach Erik Kimrey said. "I've been on several overseas school trips when I worked at the Hammond School (in South Carolina), but never one where we would also play a game. When I spoke with (headmaster) Chris Angel and (athletic director) Mark Price, we all agreed it would be a tremendous educational opportunity for our kids.
"Some of our guys have never been on a plane before, much less visiting another country. Besides practice and playing the game, we'll get to do some educational tours and then go watch the Notre Dame versus Navy (college) game on Saturday before flying back Sunday."
Baylor, which is currently state-ranked No. 2 in TSSAA Division II-AAA, opened its season last week with a 35-24 home loss to Georgia's Rabun Gap. The Red Raiders, who will face a 10-hour flight back home, will host New York's Archbishop Stepinac next Friday, Sept. 1.
"It will be very difficult to prepare for another really tough opponent after so much travel, but the benefits of this trip far outweigh the demands," Kimrey said.
It's the season opener for Seton Hall's Pirates, who are ranked No. 10 in New Jersey by MaxPreps.com and play in what's rated the nation's third-toughest high school conference. Their roster features several college recruits, including defensive back Jaylen McClain, who has committed to Ohio State.
Canes hire Gamble
East Hamilton has hired 25-year-old Shaw Gamble to lead its high school varsity baseball program, which was one win from reaching the TSSAA Class 3A state tournament this past spring.
A Bradley Central alum, Gamble was as an assistant coach at his alma mater when the Bears were Class 3A runners-up in 2019, losing 7-4 to Farragut in the title matchup. Over the past few years, he has served as an assistant at Roane State Community College and worked with countless young players in the Tennessee Nationals organization, which has select teams in multiple age groups.
Gamble will now take over for Matt Ramsey, who led the Hurricanes to a 20-14 record against district opponents over the last three seasons.
"I want to thank the administration here for trusting me to shape the future of East Hamilton baseball," Gamble said in a news release from the school. "I am looking forward to not only winning a lot of games, but also teaching student-athletes how to take chances and succeed in the game. I also want to prepare them to win the game of life. We have already hit the ground running and I can't wait for the start of the season."
High honor for Wood
Hayes Wood, a 2019 graduate of Boyd Buchanan and now a fifth-year senior and captain for Lipscomb University's men's soccer team, could have a big finish to his collegiate career.
Wood was selected as the ASUN Conference's preseason player of the year after totaling 17 goals and assisting on seven others over his last two seasons, when the Bison were a combined 26-7-4, and he scored the Nashville program's first goal of a 5-2 exhibition victory against Louisville on Aug. 12. A midfielder/forward, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has 17 goals over his past 34 collegiate starts, scoring on more than 20% of his shots during that time.
Lipscomb opens the regular season Thursday night with a home game against Florida Atlantic.
Sale Creek's success
Sale Creek's seven straight appearances at the TSSAA volleyball state tournament rank as the longest active streak in the Chattanooga area, and the Lady Panthers have already shown they could be a major threat in Class A this season.
They're off to an 11-2 start in which the Higgins sisters — setter Karma and outside hitter Ava — have been sharp, along with Eisa Eilertson, Enslee Norwood, Kenzie Parks and another sister duo in Hailee and Kiley Blaylock.
Sale Creek went 5-1 against stout competition this past weekend at the Showdown at the Sunsphere in Knoxville, where they lost in two sets to Pope High School of Marietta, Georgia, in the gold bracket championship match. Their wins came against Christian Academy of Knoxville, Green Hill, Heritage and Kentucky's Bethlehem and Mercy Academy.