High school football is on the prowl

By Wes Holtsclaw

SPORTS CORRESPONDENT

   Can you smell it? Football season is right around the corner, and for many of us it has already begun.
   Whether it is arguing over which team will win the state championship, or to which team has the best players, the excitement is starting to linger amongst a lot of us.
   I am ready for it to begin. Not only because I am a writer, but because I am a dedicated football follower through all areas of the state.
   No matter what level it is, I love Tennessee high school football. It is the greatest thing since Granny's oatmeal cake.
   This week I will be previewing the five "public" school divisions in the TSSAA.
   In 5-A, Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill are heavy favorites from the eastern scene. The Indians were rankled in the top two of 5-A for most of the last season.
   Along with Science Hill's recent rejuvenation, both teams will add spice to the state rankings this year.
   The top teams to look out for include Murfreesboro Riverdale, the defending state champions, as well as Oakland and Blackman. Each of these teams will contribute D-1 talent to their rosters, providing enjoyable football.
   In 4-A, Elizabethton has been on the minds of a lot of teams down in the state. Although heavy favorites continue to be Maryville and Morristown West, a lot of eyes have been placed on national prospect Vince Redd and the mighty Cyclones.
   White House, Hillsboro and Greeneville will all field tough teams this season. It will be interesting to see the Cyclones face off with the Green Devils, as well as Science Hill this fall.
   3-A football will again be a shaky division, one that could very well surprise many across the state.
   In the eastern bracket, you must look at Stanton Stevens and his defending state champion Austin-East Roadrunners.
   East, which moved up from 2-A last year, will be joined by Crockett County, Smith County and Portland as they will all be watched this year.
   Early predictions in 2-A are siding with the private schools. However, Hampton has been listed as an early favorite in this region. To win the state title, though, you always have to go through region two and Alcoa.
   Goodpasture, Martin Westview and Union City will be teams to look out for this year, as they are all returning all-state performers to their squads.
   1-A is a no brainer this year, as the top two teams listed were the top two listed last year in Collinwood and defending state champion Ezell-Harding.
   Good news Highlander fans, as Cloudland is third and second on a lot of lists.
   Be on the lookout for South Pittsburg, Gordonsville and CPA this year as well. I-A is expected to be in one of its tightest seasons ever, being the year before reclassification is to take place.
   We are almost there fans. August 23rd is only a few weeks away, and Carter County will open with its biggest rivalry as the Hampton Bulldogs travel to Roan Mountain to face the Cloudland Highlanders. Until then, keep those calendars marked!
   OTHER NOTES OF INTEREST
   A big announcement that was made recently is that Chevrolet will sponsor a Tennessee High School Game of the Week, which will air on Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS), only available for that network.
   They are shunning eastern Tennessee, only providing coverage of middle and western regions with a game airing each week in the regular season.
   Some big games to air on the network include: Ezell-Harding at CPA, MBA at Brentwood Academy, and Oakland at Riverdale.
   Two websites have begun to usher into the football mode. CoachT.com, a website totally dedicated solely to Tennessee high school sports, has started booming with football news and team information.
   The site contains message boards, fan polls, stories, and prospect databases for the usage of the average Tennessee sports fan.
   Prep Talk Online is based on the Prep Talk weekly radio show across much of this state. Hosted by Murphy Fair and Tim Tackett, this site was a completely free site last year, but has revamped with the Rivals.com crew.
   They are springboarding Tennessee talent into the national spotlight. You can reach it at http://preptalkonline.rivals.com.
   I am a big fan of both of these sites, and if you want to jump the gun on talent west of our small pocket, check them out.
   I am a big fan of Murphy's radio show, which I contributed to on a regular basis at the end of the year. You can pick up the show via the Prep Talk website.