2015 Record: 6-6 Region 3-1A Record: 4-1 Region Rank: 2nd
A PREVIEW OF THE ‘TIGER TOWN TRUE BLOODS’
Head Coach: Tracy Malone (1st Year at Whitwell and 17th Overall)
Offense: Lost 5, Return 6 Defense: Lost 6, Return 5
10-Year Win Tracker:
PLAYMAKERS: Dawson Holloway (Senior Quarterback), Garrett Shrum (Junior Tight End/Defensive End), Trace Condra (Junior Halfback/Strong Safety), T.D. Argo (Junior Offensive Line/Defensive Line), Kyle Antal (Junior Offensive Line/Defensive Line), Austin Nunley (Junior Kicker), and Hudson Petty (Sophomore Halfback/Defensive End)
KEY LOSSES: Cody Ingrassia (Halfback), Jake Sartin (Fullback), and Clay McHone (Halfback)
OVERVIEW: Coming off a 6-6 season and head coaching change, Whitwell is a team that must rise from the ashes. A lot of coaches have taken the reigns at Whitwell over the last few years, but none have walked into as good of a situation as Tracy Malone did this offseason. Former head coach R.C. Helton left the program in a very stable condition, making headway in a culture that plays second fiddle to the powerhouses in the same jurisdiction. With a lot of experience in different leagues and a program with well-developed culture and talent, Malone has a solid chance of making a postseason run even without getting past the state-caliber Pirates. This squad is one that, with the change Malone brings, could have a lot to celebrate at season’s end.
OFFENSIVE OUTLOOK: As far as the offense is concerned, Dawson Holloway looks set to take over a new system. With more balanced sets and schemes, the Tigers might have an edge to last year’s team with the simple addition of a passing game. It’s no secret that Helton put emphasis on the run, and Malone does too, but the difference might be passing on 2nd and 3rd downs when necessary or even if it’s not. Holloway will have Trace Condra and Garrett Shrum at his disposal as they look to give the balance a case in a hard-nosed community. Nevertheless, expect a power attack whether on the ground or through the air because Malone’s squads are known for their toughness, especially at the end of ball games.
DEFENSIVE OUTLOOK: The Tigers offense might be more key than the defense, but the tough-mindedness that Malone brings will translate more on this side of the ball. The line will be a factor as it is with most teams, but size won’t be an issue down in Tiger Town. With Shrum, T.D. Argo, and Kyle Antal down in the trenches, your chances go up significantly. All three have had playing time young and have more to come this year and next. The big hog-mollies will have to come up big if they hope to stop some teams in the postseason, but the speed will have to improve all over the linebacker corps and secondary if they hope to stay in games with South Pittsburg and other high flyers.
SCHEDULE ANALYSIS: Grundy County won’t be anything close to a cakewalk this year, so the Tigers can’t count on a 1-0 start like they so easily assembled last season. Hosting Sequatchie County and Davidson Academy early is a nightmare, and the Warriors of Pikeville wouldn’t be too bad if they didn’t follow. Alas, the Tigers get an easier draw with Lookout Valley and Grace Baptist before hosting what should be the de facto Region Championship in South Pittsburg. Columbia Academy follows Sale Creek, and that should be interesting due to the alignment of regions and how the Tigers took on the Bulldogs last season in the playoffs. It will be more of a feeler game to see what that region is really made of. Copper Basin may be a great team at the end of the season, so don’t count out the Cougars in Week 11. STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE GRADE: C+
PREDICTED FINISH: (7-6, 5-1 3-1A); First Round Win, Second Round Win, Quarterfinal Loss