Can Therrell Navigate the New Region to a Playoff Bid?
With the departure of Josh Owenby to Hixson where he took a coordinator position, the Warriors picked up a coach with Division I college experience in Dennis Therrell, a Pikeville native. Coming back to his roots at a time where Bledsoe County football can use all the help it can get, 2017 may include a lot of growing pains as the Warriors attempt to regroup from losses in the offseason. That being said, their schedule is more picturesque with the absence of Silverdale and namely Boyd-Buchanan who both moved to Division II as a part of a TSSAA realignment. With one title contender out of the way, that leaves an open spot for the Warriors if that can get past teams like Tellico Plains and Polk County. Along with wearing in a new signal-caller to replace a three-year starter in Chaise Sorrow, the Warriors will have a lot of adjustments wot make before their first matchup against Oliver Springs on the road.
Can Grundy County Muster up a Roster Worthy of a Playoff Run?
In Casey Tate’s third season at the helm of the Yellow Jacket program, progress may not be seen in the records and statistics, but it seems to be creeping along with experienced players in a region that seems more competitive with the deduction of Dekalb County in the offseason. Although Tate pulled together 2 wins in as many seasons, the addition of former Sequatchie County head coach Chad Barger as an assistant–and a more beefed-up schedule with the noticeable absence of Marion County and South Pittsburg–may be to the benefit of a coach that feels the heat, even with the cool mountain winds flowing by. Can the Yellow Jackets field a group of players capable of a playoff season? That remains the biggest question three years after their last tango in the postseason.
Do the Warriors have Enough Depth in the Trenches?
The offensive and defensive linemen at Marion County are often heralded whether under-sized or not, but after the loss of several big men, one has to wonder whether they will be as formidable in the run or passing game. There are playmaker still active in the backfield and number seniors and juniors on the offensive line with Grayson Lawson, Manny Burkes, and Seth Lyle. The question that remains is simple, will there be enough depth if injuries become a plague? Either way, this team still looks to be in great shape with the line on both sides being somewhat of a concern.
Can South Pittsburg Live Up to the Statewide Hype?
Already sitting at number one in the Class 1A Coaches’ Poll, the Pirates already have a target ingrained on their back. The real question is whether it will matter. In Region 3-1A, the only real competition seems to be feisty Tiger squad up the road in Whitwell. Vic Grider has beefed up the schedule with teams like Lipscomb Academy and Goodpasture. The Pirates also picked up and out-of-state team in East Atlanta for the first time since 2014, so the Pirates are making valiant attempts to play tough competition in order to play out the “Play tough, Get Tough” school of thought. With the loss of Hogan Holland at the quarterback position, it could be a little bit of a transition as sophomore Jaylyn Hubbard and freshman Braden Sanders battle for the staring spot. Either way, the future looks bright for Pirate signal-callers.
Is Whitwell’s Depth Enough To Take the Next Step?
Even in the midst of three different head coaches in three years, Whitwell has been able to keep momentum building toward this year. A youthful team last season, they have the experience now to make gains in the stat sheet, on the scoreboard, and towards the final record. Being a 1A program, depth is almost always an issue, but if injuries start to pop up, can this roster withstand a small or large blow in numbers or playmakers? It’s tough to say whether the TigerTown faithful could be rewarded this year with a great regular season and longer playoff run, but with another new head coach, this team definitely won’t be phased, keeping a relatively similar system over the past four years.
Can the Indian Offense Make Up for Losses on Defensive Side?
When a Mr. Football Finalists steps across the graduation stage, it can turn a program upside down. Luckily, head coach Adam Caine and company may still have enough to playmakers left over to keep things rolling Dunlap. That being said, defense, especially through the air, has been problematic for the Indians in recent years, even before the Caine era, but last season they were able to suffice just enough for a semifinal run. This season, some key players in the secondary and in the receiving corps could be key to the Indians’ success as Caine is not a stick-with-a-system-completely kind of coach. One reason he was able to have second year success was because he changed things up in his schematics. So don’t be surprised if the Indians surprise you with some new blend of their same package.