When Baylor defeated Brainerd 34-0 last Saturday, it extended Tennessee high school football's longest winning streak in season openers. The Red Raiders have won their first game for 20 consecutive years, last losing to Rhea County to begin the 1999 season.
Only one opponent during that stretch has come within 12 points of the Red Raiders — Cleveland lost 7-3 in 2002 — who have held 11 of those 20 teams to eight or fewer points. Baylor owns three straight wins over Rhea County during the streak and has beaten Central, Cleveland, Franklin Road Academy, Hixson, Howard, Notre Dame, Soddy-Daisy and St. Anne's twice each.
The closest season-opening streak among local TSSAA teams is five wins by both Grace Academy and Meigs County.
"I guess you can contribute that to good scheduling," said Baylor coach Phil Massey, who has been in charge of the program for the past 14 of those wins. "You typically start focusing on that first game at the beginning of camp, so you have about two weeks to prepare, so that's a compliment to our staff to how prepared we have been.
"The last two years we've dropped the next three games after winning that first one, so for us the big test is following up what we did last week by playing well again. We need to put multiple wins together to gain the confidence, and hopefully that will propel us into the league games."
Milestone for Griders
Last week's 21-7 defeat of Sequatchie County was more significant than just a season-opening win for South Pittsburg football coach Vic Grider. It marked the 400th victory when combining the totals for him and his father, the late Don Grider, who coached the Pirates from 1969 to 1992.
The Griders already were the state's all-time leaders in football wins among father-and-son coaching tandems and now have a combined 400-127-3 overall record.
"That says we both coached for a long time," said Vic, who is 208-51 overall with three state championships as head coach and another as the Pirates' defensive coordinator.
His father had a 192-76-3 record, winning a state title in 1969 and finishing runner-up three other times. Don died in May 2007 at age 67.
"For both of our careers, we were blessed with a lot of really good players, and we were always smart enough to surround ourselves with good coaches," Vic added. "You don't win games by yourself. It's a combination of a lot of work by the staff and the players."
McCallie soccer standout
Logan Russell, a 2018 graduate of McCallie, earned a major honor as the 19-year-old was selected as one of 16 players to represent the Bahamas men's national soccer team.
"This is a dream come true," said Russell, who grew up in New Providence before moving to the United States to attend McCallie in ninth grade.
As a junior defender in 2017, he helped the Blue Tornado win the Division II-AA state title.
"I remember years ago I would go to national team games and try to get pictures and autographs from the players," Russell said. "Now some of those guys who I looked up to when I was younger, I get to play with now. It's really an amazing opportunity."
The Bahamas will take on Bonaire on Sept. 9 at Thomas Robinson Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas, to open play in Group C qualifying for the CONCACAF Nations League tournament. Matches will be streamed at concacafgo.com.
The versatile Russell can play center back, right back and defensive midfield. He is in his second year at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. The Polar Bears compete in NCAA Division III.
"I wasn't sure I would ever get the opportunity to play for the national team, but I put my head down and worked," he said. "McCallie really developed me physically. Coach (Chris) Cushenbery and the staff down there helped me get to where I am."
East Ridge honorees set
East Ridge High School will induct its new hall of fame class at 1 p.m. on Sept. 26 in Neely Gymnasium.
Among this year's inductees are Steve Bevilaqua (class of 1974 for baseball, football); Angela Brewer Johnson (1999 for basketball, softball, volleyball); Ben Edgar (1998 for baseball, football, track, wrestling); Chuck Grant (1974 for baseball, basketball, football, team handball); Holly Hamilton Smith (1999 for basketball, softball, volleyball); Don Newman (1975 for cross country, track); Mark Newman (1986 for cross country, track); Cynthia Polk Fallowfield (1999 for basketball, softball, volleyball); Abdul (Dooley) Swafford (1995 for baseball, basketball, football); and Charles White (2002 for football, track).
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