RHEA COUNTY GOLDEN EAGLES
Coach: Doug Greene (1st season)
Returning starters (O/D/K): 4/4/0
Remember these names: Tailback Desmond Sharp (Jr., 5-10, 175) rushed for 962 yards and seven scores in 2010, while Timmy Loden (Sr., 5-10, 170) had 540 yards receiving. Luke Everette (Sr., 5-11, 180) is expected to step in at quarterback for area career yardage leader Cameron Tallent, while Jacob Revis (Jr., 6-1, 290) provides stability on the offensive line.
Will be a memorable year if: It's already been a memorable offseason for the program. Expectations are never low at Rhea County, but one can only wonder how high they could and should be, with all the turnover in the coaching staff and only eight starters returning. Greene understands that he has a team that might take some licks, but there is a lot of pride in the program and the Eagles always are expected to be competitive regardless of the score.
Aug. 19 Powell
Aug. 26 at Brainerd
Sept. 2 McMinn County*
Sept. 9 at Bearden
Sept. 16 at Soddy-Daisy*
Sept. 23 at Fulton
Sept. 30 Bradley Central*
Oct. 14 at Ooltewah*
Oct. 21 at Walker Valley*
Oct. 28 Cleveland*
* District 5-AAA Game
Tyler Mize admitted that in the few days Danny Adams was the head football coach at Rhea County, he was unable to meet him.
"He held one morning workout, and I had to work that day," Mize said.
Luckily, the senior receiver and defensive back and the rest of the Rhea community feel better about the replacement.
The crazy summer in Evensville started on May 23, when Jason Fitzgerald resigning after serving as head coach 10 of the past 12 seasons. On June 17 the Rhea County administration hired Adams from Alabama, but he resigned four days later.
On June 23, Rhea selected well-traveled assistant Doug Greene to take over the job. Talk about a crazy month.
"It's been rough for us, but we've learned a lot from Coach Greene," Mize said. "Most of us had been with Coach Fitzgerald since we were freshmen, but we really like Coach [Greene]."
Greene, who spent last season as a defensive backs coach at NCAA Division II member Carson-Newman, admitted that he and the Golden Eagles haven't spoken much about what happened the few weeks leading up to his hiring.
"The number-one thing is that this is a new day and we have to move on," he said. "We have a lot of things to do, and that train's left the station and we can't dwell on it."
One of the things Greene made sure he did was reach out to the Rhea boosters, who are well aware that he is a graduate (1988) of Cleveland High -- the Eagles' chief rival.
"Rhea was always a rival, but I think there's a mutual respect," he said. "I know that football was important to them, and to be the head coach here is an honor. It was important for me to get out and meet and get to know people in the community. I made it a point to listen, because I had an idea what Rhea County was about, but I wanted to know what was important to the people at Rhea."
Said Mize: "I like what he's doing with the program, and I wish I was a sophomore so I could have a couple more years to play under him.
"He's coached at every level and knows what he's talking about."
Call it simultaneous satisfaction. Word started to pass through the Rhea County crowd as the 2008 Golden Eagles were beating up on White County in their last regular-season game. The rumors were that Walker Valley had defeated Cleveland - a scenario that would win the Region 4-4A championship for the Golden Eagles.
Once it became official that Walker Valley had defeated Cleveland 27-26, the crowd and players and even the Rhea coaching staff broke off into celebration. That team eventually fell to Maryville in the state quarterfinals, but the feeling of winning a title was unbelievable.
"We told the guys all week that you never know what could happen," then-coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "We just knew we had to go out and win our game, but as our game went along the coaches had been keeping up with their game in the press box, and before our game was over, we knew Cleveland's game was over because our fans erupted. Our sideline erupted, and it just became kind of crazy.
"It's hard to win a championship and a lot of teams can't experience that, so it's something we'll never forget."