Loudon at Lenoir City
The best rivalries involve schools that are close to each other, so trash talking is a convenience, and have track records of success, so fans know that anything can happen.The USA Today High School Sports game of the week will feature the 88-year-old feud between Lenoir City High School and Loudon High School.
This clash showcases the second oldest rivalry in the state of Tennessee, known as the Battle of the Bridge because the only geographic separation between the two towns is a single bridge across the Tennessee River. It happens in a community where you don't speak the name of the other school. A win for either team not only places them a step closer to a playoff spot, but year long bragging rights.Loudon began the young season strong, winning on the road 34-19 at William Blount in its opener. Having the opportunity to defeat a foe they lost to last season in Week 0 gives them the confidence boost needed to defeat their biggest rival.
Before the season, Redskins' Head Coach Jeff Harig said the offense would revolve around senior running back/wide receiver Josh Jackson. Last week, the Governors struggled to contain Jackson, who tore through their defense for 220 yards (205 in the first half). He and the plethora of talent they bring back this season, particularly in the skill positions, make this team much improved from their 3-7 disappointing 2013 year.
For Lenoir City, this Friday's matchup marks the opening of their season and the beginning of the head coaching tenure of former defensive coordinator Jeff Cortez. Losing their big playmaker, Jaylond Woods, a Tennessee commit, hurts this team with an offense that already lacks depth. The few bright spots are that the Panthers have quarterback, Rashan Talent, who showed flashes of that talent in his few games started last year. He'll also have plenty of protection from his four returning offensive lineman.
Defense will be the key for Lenoir City to duplicate its efforts of last season. Finding a way to stop the multiple offensive threats that the Redskins possess will be vital in coming out with a win. At the end of the night though, with last year's 26-0 blowout loss heavy on their mind, Loudon will come out focused on revenge, with their playmaking ability proving too much for the Panthers' secondary, which is still a work in progress.
Vincent's Prediction: Loudon; Sean's Prediction: Loudon
Alcoa at Maryville
This rivalry between two Tennessee high school football juggernauts will take place at Maryville High School as the Rebels face the Alcoa Tornadoes. Championship flags marking each of Alcoa's thirteen championships were installed this week behind the end zone at Bill Bailey Stadium, but there's one school in the state with more rings in school history: Maryville. They have 14.
So far this season, in only 72 hours time, Alcoa lit up the scoreboard with 96 points to their opponents' 27. This Friday against Maryville will mark their third game in eight days, a brutal schedule to begin the season, but something they've been conscious of. The Tornadoes' coaching staff has rested players when necessary to ensure they're at full strength against the team that handed them their only loss of the season in 2013.
Alcoa is loaded with senior talent (21) and anything less than another state championship will be deemed a failure. The Tornadoes best offensive player, running back Jaquez Tyson, has once again found ways to bulldoze into the end zone, scoring four touchdowns on 252 yards in the first two contests.
Maryville has impressed as well, making quick work of another state champion in Webb at home, 28-7, in a wire-to-wire win. Their versatile quarterback, Tyler Vaught, who started his first game at the position after shifting from wide receiver, posted an efficient 11-14 with three touchdowns and two interceptions. They've retooled at some key possessions, but have lost plenty of talent in their secondary, as well as Shawn Prevo, their all-time leading rusher. The Tornadoes haven't tasted victory against their biggest foe since 2010, but their experience on both sides of the ball has them primed for an upset.
Vincent's Prediction: Alcoa, Sean's Prediction: Maryville
Bearden at Fulton
If Fulton ever had an opportunity to duplicate the 83-3 beating they wrought upon Powell in Week 0, it will be against Bearden at home. The Bulldogs suffered a 35-0 loss at home against Sevier County last week and now have to go on the road to face a team supremely better than that opponent. If we've learned anything about Fulton the past couple of seasons, it's that this is a team that does not get complacent. It's not a matter of if the Falcons' win, but about the type of video game numbers they put up in the process.
Vincent's Prediction: Fulton, Sean's Prediction: Fulton
Farragut at Oak Ridge
Oak Ridge has vastly improved this season and have a chance to make some noise in the Class 5A playoffs this postseason. It has plenty of depth at the wide receiver position, but still have questions at quarterback. Head Coach Joe Gaddis has two juniors at his disposal with either Gavin Warrington or Logan Fadnek getting the nod for Week 1. But this team has experience at every other position. To open their season, they face Farragut, who is coming off of a Week 0 loss against Dobyns-Bennett in a thriller. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Admirals, who blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. But it was Farragut who broke the hearts of the Wildcats last year. This season, the roles could reverse.
Vincent's Prediction: Oak Ridge, Sean's Prediction: Farragut
Coalfield at Catholic
Catholic was the only team last season to nearly accomplish the unthinkable and beat Fulton in the 4A semifinals last season. That's not the worst way to end a season. They began this season by beating another Fighting Irish team out of Chattanooga in Notre Dame. They have improved this season with a senior quarterback under center, Zac Jancek, son of Tennessee's defensive coordinator. Jancek completed 21 of his 35 passes and 268 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against the Irish. He's the catalyst for an offense that has several players with play-making ability. The Fighting Irish will play Coalfield, who had an impressive year of their own last season, posting a 9-4 record. But one of those losses came from Catholic, which won easily 47-7. In Week 0, Coalfield edged out Copper Basin, but face a different caliber club in Catholic. It will show on Friday.
Vincent's Prediction: Catholic, Sean's Prediction: Catholic
Union County at Halls
Halls hasn't won a single game since 2012 and even that year it was the single game they won. They return 18 starters, nine on offense and nine on defense, to try to help the Red Devils get over the hump. Union County was hardly impressive last season, only grabbing three wins, one over Halls. Last weekend, they beat Grainger 24-8 in their opener on the road. Look for them to continue the strong start to their season.
Vincent's Prediction: Union County, Sean's Prediction: Halls
CAK at Powell
If there was any team in the state of Tennessee that needs a pick-me-up, it's Powell. The drubbing they've received at the hands of Fulton has been well documented and they could use a bounce back win against CAK this upcoming Friday. CAK got a nice victory against Franklin Road Academy in Week 0, one in which junior quarterback Cole Smith looked comfortable throwing down field out of the pocket. He's a better player, and this is a better team, despite replacing some players on defense. They have a tough schedule and a win against Powell would definitely aid in a playoff push. Powell needs to forget about last weekend and focus on the task ahead. Unfortunately for them, CAK will be focused as well.
Vincent's Prediction: CAK, Sean's Prediction: CAK
Seymour at Clinton
Despite losing 35-19 against Anderson County last week, Clinton looked poised on the road, especially in the first half. Junior quarterback, Tyler Thackerson, appeared comfortable throwing on the run or scrambling for yardage, but struggled many times to complete passes out of the pocket to open receivers. First year Seymour Head Coach Jerry Cooper is off to a good start, beating Sullivan North in his debut. There's enthusiasm in Seymour, despite a underwhelming 2013 campaign, but this team is in a rebuilding stage. Clinton is past that and will fly past the Eagles in Week 1.
Vincent's Prediction: Clinton, Sean's Prediction: Seymour
Cocke County at Carter
Cocke County came out of last season with one victory, while Carter is coming off of a narrow defeat last week. This combination doesn't bode well for the Fighting Cocks. Like last week, Carter is at home again and wants to ensure that lightning doesn't strike twice. If they don't have any lingering effects from their heart breaker last week, they should take care of business.
Vincent's Prediction: Carter, Sean's Prediction: Carter
Webb at Baylor
Despite winning the state championship last season, Webb lost their first two games of the season. It could be déjà vu as they dropped their first contest against Maryville and face Baylor out of Chattanooga, who got the better of them last year 21-7. The Spartans could make a run at the end of the season, but may have to go through growing pains once again to start. Baylor comes off a 51-7 win against Howard as a tune up for a more formidable opponent in the Spartans. Without many reliable offensive threats, Webb could struggle on the road.
Vincent's Prediction: Baylor, Sean's Prediction: Baylor
Grainger at Gibbs
It wasn't a glamorous win, but a win nevertheless for Gibbs against Carter last week on the road. Grainger disappointed, and its offense struggled to put up points against Union County at home. The Eagles return 10 starters from their team from a year ago and the experience boded well late against Carter. Their triple option offense will give Grainger fits and the defense, led by senior Hunter Lane, will take away any Grainger offensive threat it may pose.
Vincent's Prediction: Gibbs, Sean's Prediction: Gibbs