FULL FOOTBALL PREVIEW: South Pittsburg Pirates

THE RUNDOWN

2015 Record: 9-4        Region 3-2A Record: 5-0        Region Rank: 1st

A PREVIEW OF THE ‘FIGHTING GRIDERS’

Head Coach: Vic Grider (17th Year at South Pittsburg [1997-2012, 2015-Present])

Returning Starters:

Offense:  Lost 2, Return 9              Defense:  Lost 1, Return 10 

10-Year Win Tracker:

South Pitt Win Tracker

PLAYMAKERS:  Hogan Holland (Senior Quarterback), Kyree Pryor (Senior Halfback/Defensive Back), Drew Daniels (Senior Offensive Lineman/Defensive End), Mitch Butner (Senior Linebacker/Tight End), Cade Kennemore (Junior Wide Receiver/Defensive Back), and Joseph Lilly (Senior Halfback/Defensive Back)

KEY LOSSES:  Chase Blevins (Halfback) and Ethan Moss (Defensive Back/Wide Receiver)


IMG_3212OVERVIEW:
  Back from a hiatus last year, Vic Grider led his formerly underperforming team to the quarterfinals of the 1A playoffs.  Only losing two seniors, the Pirates have the most veteran squad in the valley and possibly the region.  In contrast to Bledsoe County and Marion County’s Region 3-2A, 3-1A is more a cakewalk than any other in the land of the TSSAA.  The Pirates, though, are more concerned with life after Week 11, including trying to take down Columbia Academy and West Tennessee powerhouses on their way to Cookeville.  Still a lot of football to be played, though.

OFFENSIVE OUTLOOK:  Grundy County transfer Hogan Holland was thrown into the wind last season as he tried to tame an offense very different from the one out on the Mountain.  He did, though, have some weapons to help him along the way in the form of halfback Chase Blevins, who graduated last season, and outside threats Cade Kennemore and Joseph Lilly.  This season, the Pirates lost only two players on the offensive side, and their offensive line looks better than ever.  A Wing-T offense coupled with some passing on the outside will put any defense in a bind, and that’s just the way Grider likes it, even if he lives by the run.

DEFENSIVE OUTLOOK:   As with any team in the Valley, the Pirates are pretty focused on stopping the run as it was the downfall several times last season.  Although the secondary is a lot more developed than most teams, the Pirates can’t afford to play in barn-burner games.  The defense will have to make some stops in the run game for a trip to Cookeville.  Only one player graduated from last season on the defensive side, so look for a veteran squad with a lot of experience.  There are a lot of two-way players, though, so depth could be an issue later in games, but the Pirates have some players stocked up with 44 players on the roster.  That’s a pretty good size for a 1A squad.

IMG_3269SCHEDULE ANALYSIS:  The Pirates are the only team that currently plays all five of the other Valley schools, starting off the season with four in the five games.  Sequatchie County won’t be a cakewalk and should make up another week one classic.  Bledsoe County will be a wild card as it was a close game last year, but both teams have improved tremendously over the offseason, so week two will tell a lot for both teams’ seasons.  Hosting Marion County this season should help the Pirates’ case.  The Warriors, though, will field a strong team, and don’t lose a whole lot coming into 2016.  Either way, that rivalry will be season defining.  The region games on the slate for the Pirates seem weak, but Whitwell could surprise with the unknowns they have under a new head coach.  Boyd-Buchanan is always a challenge, but it has no playoff implications.  Overall, the Pirates have an average schedule when you put their region into the mix.  STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE GRADE:  C+

PREDICTED FINISH:  11-3 (5-0, 3-1A); First Round Win, Second Round Win, Quarterfinals Win, Semifinals Loss

Contact Chandler Morrison at TheSpearSportsBlog@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter@RCS_Chandler!

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