Playoff ticket prices are ridiculous

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   Last week, several schools across the state had their football seasons end. As playoffs roll around for the 2002 season, four teams in this county will be hosting playoff contests this Friday night that could make or break their seasons.
   In each classification this year, there are extreme favorites to dominate and win state championships. That is something that hasn't been seen throughout the past few years.
   However, there has been a sour note placed upon the playoffs here in Tennessee this season, as the TSSAA has raised ticket prices to seven dollars apiece.
   I believe that the prices are ridiculous because there are people across the state that simply can't afford to pay nearly $30 (not counting concessions) for a family of four to watch high school football.
   It's something to pay six or seven bucks to watch a local college football game, but to watch a high school game only to have the additional money go towards Nashville is unreal.
   I understand that the TSSAA uses the money for good reasons, such as insurance for serious injuries towards athletes. Money to buy trophies and keep the organization in check, but do they realize that there are people out there who want to see their kids play ball?
   Most families can probably afford the prices, but there are those who can't and I believe that the TSSAA should come up with a way to make the playoff games affordable for certain people with a good reason.
   It appears to me that they haven't considered the people of some of the state's poor counties that have teams in the playoffs. Maybe they will see the results across the state, maybe they will not.
   But it would seem as if the current state of America and the current situation with our state that they would at least keep the prices the same, or lower them.
   I would like to see the end results of this, and see if the money goes elsewhere. I believe the TSSAA does an excellent job of promoting and organizing our athletic events across the state, but they could also take a look at the economic situations statewide.
   Maybe they could drop the prices in some of the areas where people could not afford to watch the games, and raise them to seven or eight dollars at the midstate private schools where the families can possibly afford to pay the costs.
   Did they at least send a survey out to athletic directors and coaches from lower income schools? I would hope that some studying went behind the increase.
   With all of that said, I commend the TSSAA for their good job. Just think of the state as a whole, instead of a certain section. That's my two-cents worth.
   LOCAL PLAYOFF SITUATION
   Locally, the second bracket in 4-A will be the toughest for Elizabethton as they must topple a good Cocke County team before possibly playing at Morristown West.
   Hampton and Happy Valley will be stuck with the always tough Region 2-2A, as Hampton hosts the same team that put them out last year in Wartburg-Central, while Happy Valley plays Rockwood for the second time this year.
   Cloudland will have the easiest road through the first two rounds of the playoff picture, hosting Midway again this season after toppling them in last year's quarterfinals.
   Perhaps the most important part of the playoff situation this season is the participation of the fans in our local communities.
   Whenever a team has a strong backing, and a loud home following they will play a much better game and it could swing the momentum of the contest.
   COCKE COUNTY AT ELIZABETHTON
   The Cyclones will have their hands full this week, after Cocke County topped Volunteer in a hard-fought 36-34 battle. The Cyclones will need a strong performance out of Walter Brown and the Cyclone line to overwhelm the Fighting Cocks early.
   Cocke County has a strong passing attack, and will utilize some trickery plays in the contest behind top-notch quarterback Jerome Carmichael. But if the Orange and Black attack plays its best game, it will defeat the Newport boys. ELIZABETHTON 36-18
   WARTBURG-CENTRAL AT HAMPTON
   The Hampton Bulldogs will be seeking revenge for last year's contest against the Wartburg-Central Bulldogs this Friday night. Wartburg had a conference mark of 2-3 this season, but it doesn't take away the fact that they are a strong team.
   Everyone across the state is predicting Wartburg to destroy Hampton this Friday night. They may do so, but I believe the Hampton defense will lay the smackdown on Central. HAMPTON 24-20
   ROCKWOOD AT HAPPY VALLEY
   In a rematch from earlier in the season, the Happy Valley Warriors will host the Rockwood Tigers in what could be a classic on Warrior Hill. Rockwood brings a strong backfield to the game, while Happy Valley brings Lamar Rollins, who was absent from the first contest.
   If the Warriors play their best game, they could easily make it a competitive affair. But it will simply be very tough this week. ROCKWOOD 36-15.
   MIDWAY AT CLOUDLAND
   The Highlanders destroyed Midway at home last season, and that should serve as fire for the visiting squad when they return to Orr Field. However, Cloudland is on a mission to return to the BlueCross Bowl, and it will take a strong team to beat them. CLOUDLAND 56-14
   WESLEY'S OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: MICHAEL PETERSON, HAMPTON & WALTER BROWN, ELIZABETHTON
   Peterson rushed for 21 times for 130 yards and four scores in Hampton's big 32-7 victory over Chuckey-Doak, while Brown ran 12 times for 125 yards and four scores in a 55-14 win over Unicoi County.
   WESLEY'S DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: JUSTIN BISHOP, JOHNSON COUNTY
   Bishop accounted for 14 tackles in a loss to Sullivan South this week. He is a serious candidate for my defensive player of the year award.
   WESLEY'S LINEMAN OF THE WEEK: JASON GRANT, CLOUDLAND
   Grant played a stellar game on both sides of the ball against Unaka, collecting 10 tackles in the contest, while snapping the football and blocking for the Highlanders.
   PICKS OF THE WEEK
   This week, I will be taking a look at six games from each of the five public school brackets.
   5-A:
   Dobyns-Bennett 24, William Blount 12
   Oak Ridge 28, Sevier Co. 14
   Riverdale 36, Lincoln Co. 24
   Gallatin 27, Centennial 13
   Brentwood 40, Hunters Lane 28
   Germantown 48, Bartlett 22
   4-A:
   Tennessee High 36, Volunteer 24
   Greeneville 44, Sullivan South 16
   Morristown West 46, Daniel Boone 8
   Maryville 50, Hixson 22
   Knox. Central 38, Chatt. Central 10
   Melrose 42, Dyersburg 30
   3-A:
   Gatlinburg-Pittman 35, Kingston 12
   Anderson Co. 32, Sullivan North 14
   Fulton 40, Pigeon Forge 10
   Trousdale Co. 48, McMinn Cent. 22
   Crockett Co. 38, Cheatham Co. 7
   Covington 39, Frayser 23
   2-A:
   Oliver Springs 38, West Greene 12
   Sweetwater 55, South Greene 6
   Tyner 43, E. Robertson 24
   Lipscomb 40, Marion Co. 28
   Goodpasture 38, Sequatchie Co. 21
   Lewis Co. 28, Adamsville 19
   1-A:
   Coalfield 24, Powell Valley 19
   Jellico 32, Oneida 12
   Greenback 62, North Greene 12
   Boyd-Buchanan 48, Watertown 14
   USJ 42, Halls 16
   Bruceton 44, Perry Co. 9