Looking around the state

By Wes Holtsclaw

STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   It's here folks, Thursday night ushers in a brand spanking new football season.
   Amidst the Week Zero talks around the state, a lot of focus this week has been on pre-season injuries. One in particular to defending 4-A state champion Maryville's junior quarterback Alex Rouse.
   Rouse was hit hard against Dobyns-Bennett, and is now out for the season.
   Rouse was expected to do big things this season, and play a big role for those Rebels. Despite the injury, Rouse expressed his thanks on CoachT.com for the prayers and thoughts.
   When I read what he wrote, it really made me think. Here is a kid whose season might be over, coming online and telling everyone that it's okay and that he is going to work hard.
   That is the spirit to have. I don't care where you are at, this kid is saying something that all high school athletes should say.
   Whether you have a year or two remaining or had your high school career ended, there are endless possibilities and you should keep your head up and bounce back.
   I hope the talented quarterback makes a strong effort to bounce back onto that field and shine once more.
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   HAMPTON AT CLOUDLAND
   Folks, what a way to start off the football season in Carter County.
   In my opinion, this is the biggest rivalry in the county and should be a great game on Orr Field this Friday night at 7:30.
   I am anxious to see what these teams bring to the front. Hampton is always strong and tough, while Cloudland returns their awesome backfield.
   Both of these teams are favored to carry their respective regions in 2-A and 1-A. Cloudland is bouncing back from an impressive 13-2 season, while J.C. Campbell is bringing the 'Dogs out for a win to open the season.
   I believe there will be several key players from both teams to keep an eye on this Friday night: Hampton's Mitchell Morton, Michael Peterson and Josh Nave, and Cloudland's Mark Byrd, Dane Christman and Jeff Lunsford.
   For those of you other fans out there, come out to the game this Friday night. I don't care if you back Elizabethton, Happy Valley, Unaka or Johnson County, some good football will be played.
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   WEEK ZERO PREDICTIONS:
   This week brings in some good games across the state of Tennessee, here are my predictions on ten of the games going on.
   Cloudland 36, Hampton 28
   Tennessee High 32, Daniel Boone 14
   Sullivan North 32, Volunteer 18
   MBA 28, Dobyns-Bennett 21
   Rutledge 21, South Greene 6
   Sevier Co. 36, Seymour 18
   Ezell-Harding 76, Loretto 7
   Red Bank 24, Ooltewah 16
   Riverdale 42, Dickson Co. 28
   Brentwood Academy 32, Brentwood 24
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   CSS EAST TENNESSEE GAMES:
   CSS has announced a schedule of East Tennessee games to air throughout the eastern portion of the state.
   The McDonald's East Tennessee High School Game of the Week will feature teams around the Knoxville and Chattanooga area.
   Games to look out for on the East Tennessee side include: McMinn County at Ooltewah, Austin East at Chattanooga Brainerd, and Gibbs at Fulton.
   It appears as though the Upper-East Tennessee portion and the Western Tennessee sides have been left out of the mix. However, I will remind you that things change and this is something to work on for future seasons.
   I would love to see some games from this area become available in the future, because CSS is a strong station across the Tri-Cities and many people are fond viewers.
   If the rest of the statewide games are successful, we may see some changes in this area.
   That's all for this week. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me.
   Next week I will be looking forward to the upcoming week, and remember we're only a few weeks away from the release of the poll.