Whether you’re ready or not, it’s all hands on deck in the Sequatchie Valley with all teams playing each other inside the region.
Featured in yesterday’s game of the week article was Sequatchie County’s trip to Whitwell. On the other end of the Valley, Bledsoe County hosts the Pirates of South Pittsburg while Grundy County makes the trip down to Jasper. The Yellow Jackets and Pirates will be looking for win No. 1 on the season, but that is the tale of two squads as the Yellow Jackets’ chances look slimmer.
We’ll get to that and more in our weekly Sequatchie Valley Rundown.
SOUTH PITTSBURG AT BLEDSOE COUNTY: Making Landfall in Pikeville
The Spread: South Pittsburg (-12) vs. Bledsoe County
Over/Under (Total Points): (38 Points)
The Hype: The Pirates have a lot to account for in Bledsoe County, and that’s strictly based on the extra week of preparation the Warriors had. Bledsoe County opens the season at home against the last team they’d want to face in the Valley, but for head coach Josh Owensby, it’s a challenge that could prepare them for a tough region slate. The Pirates came out on the wrong side of an upset last week, so they’ll be chomping at the bit to play in this one.
Film Room: Vic Grider is known for his run game, but his passing game outgained rushing in week one against the Indians by over 150 yards. Hogan Holland used a lot of targets with only one reaching the endzone: Cade Kennemore. The Pirates run a traditional, face-up Wing-T, so the tendencies are to the outside run game and inside counters. On offense, the Pirates will have trouble down the middle with the veteran line, but don’t be surprised if they get past the first level a couple of times due to a linebacker corp inferior to the defensive line. Holland may have a better time through the air against a weaker secondary.
With an extra week to prepare the Warriors have the upper hand coming out of the gates. Expect a variation of formations, and don’t be surprised if they use them all in the first three series, trying to sneak their way to a touchdown. Primarily run out of the shotgun and pistol formations, along with pro-type sets, the Warriors offense should have some success down the middle and limited success on the outside. The style is similar to Sequatchie County’s, leaving the Wing-T out of the equation. The Warriors’ biggest issue will be passing downfield against faster players.
Players to Watch
Bledsoe County: Chaise Sorrows (Senior Quarterback), Joseph Gore (Senior Halfback/Cornerback), Harley Smith (Junior Offensive Guard/Nose Guard),Derrick Pursley (Senior Linebacker/Offensive Lineman), and Kevin Whitson (Junior Linebacker/Tight End)
South Pittsburg: Hogan Holland (Senior Quarterback), Kyree Pryor (Senior Halfback/Defensive Back), Drew Daniels (Senior Offensive Lineman/Defensive End), Mitch Butner (Senior Linebacker/Tight End), and Cade Kennemore (Junior Wide Receiver/Defensive Back)
GRUNDY COUNTY AT MARION COUNTY: Presenting the Jasper Hi-Jinks?
The Spread: Grundy County (+26) vs. Marion County
Over/Under (Total Points): (34 Points)
The Hype: The Warriors come in fresh off of a blowout at Hixson, which was to no one’s surprise. Joey Mathis was expected to stay at par with the State-caliber team he inherited, and he did. Grundy County head coach Casey Tate, on the other hand, fell to Whitwell in the Jackets’ week one home opener. He’s still looking for win number one, and his squad may have to wait until week three, at least, to pick it up. This game presents a dilemma in that fact that if you’re not a fan of either team, it’s not that interesting of matchup.
Film Room: Grundy County is sticking to the offense that won Marion County State Championships back in the 1990s: the split back veer. It’s a triple option system in a wishbone formation, minus the fullback splitting the difference. It’s unlikely the system will trip up the Warriors, but when used effectively, it will keep the defense on edge. Usually, you have a very good chance with the triple option, but with the football IQ and ability of Mr. Football semifinalist and senior linebacker Alex Kirkendoll, the unexpected becomes a possibility in the mind of a defender. If the Jackets are to have offensive success, they’ll need to make sure the interior ground game is working effectively.
Mathis’ men run the Wing-T with some spread variation from time to time, but for the most part, they will run at will. And they don’t care who knows it, stretching back to Ricky Ross’ campaign and beyond. The trenches will be a large task for the Yellow Jackets’ defense as it is stacked with veteran talent, but the Yellow Jackets have size on the defensive line, so it could slow down the Marion County offensive machine just a tad. The Jackets are probably on par with a less than impressive Hixson team that the Warriors took on last week, so Marion County will lay down some points. And from last year’s lessons, Tate doesn’t want a shootout, especially against one of the State’s most highly touted teams.
Players to Watch
Grundy County: Kevin Castro (Senior Halfback), Dewayne Grooms (Senior Offensive Guard/Linebacker), James McDaniel (Senior Halfback), Matt Burrows (Senior Wide Receiver/Cornerback), and Grayson Lawson (Sophomore Offensive Tackle/Defensive Tackle)
Marion County: Alex Kirkendoll (Senior Linebacker), Hunter Zeman (Senior Halfback/Quarterback), Kane Hale (Junior Wide Receiver/Free Safety), Eli Morrison (Senior Right Guard/Inside Linebacker), and Hunter McClain (Senior Fullback/Linebacker)