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Staff photo by Robin Rudd / South Pittsburg's Hunter Frame (4) breaks free from a would-be tackler during a home game against Meigs County on Oct. 11, 2019.

As debuts go, last Friday's season opener couldn't have gone much better for South Pittsburg running back Hunter Frame.

The speedy senior ran for a career-best 261 yards and four touchdowns — covering 58, 47, 18 and 10 yards — on just 14 carries in a 46-0 win at Sequatchie County.

His totals ranked among the top five rushing performances in the state, led the Chattanooga area and resulted in him being selected as player of the week by the Times Free Press.

"The line really made things easy," Frame said. "They did their job and gave me room to run, and I just used my speed after that. With our backs, once we get a step, we feel good that we can make big plays."

Frame, who ran for nearly 600 yards last season despite missing five games due to injury, scored three of his team's first four touuchdowns, with twins Reginald and Richard Hunter as well as freshman Racash Kelly all adding second-half scores as the Pirates rolled up 359 rushing yards. In addition to his touchdown run, Richard Hunter also had an interception.

Now healthy, Frame's quick acceleration — he's the fastest back on a team loaded with speed — helped him average nearly 19 yards per carry and resulted in seven college programs reaching out to him the following day to turn up the recruiting interest.

"Hunter looked like a senior with something to prove," Pirates coach Vic Grider said. "We've got a lot of skill guys who can put pressure on people, and (Friday) was his night."

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Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Hunter Frame carries the ball for South Pittsburg during a game at Whitwell on Oct. 12, 2018.

South Pittsburg and McCallie also debuted at No. 1 in their classifications when the season's first Associated Press statewide prep polls were released Monday evening. A total of 11 area teams were ranked.

The Pirates, who have lost in the semifinals three of the past four seasons, are atop the Class 1A poll while Copper Basin is ranked seventh in that class. McCallie, last year's Division II-AAA state champion, will open its season this Friday at Knoxville Webb as the top-ranked team, while Baylor is ranked No. 4 in DII-AAA.

Meigs County, which finished as 2A state runner-up last year and has compiled a 48-6 overall record the past four seasons, is ranked No. 2 in its class, followed by Tyner at No. 5. Boyd Buchanan is No. 3 in DII-AA, Red Bank is No. 4 in 3A, while East Hamilton is No. 7 in 4A, Rhea County No. 9 in 5A and McMinn County is No. 6 in 6A.

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

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