That’s when high school football season begins in Northeast Tennessee. After the first thump of the football for the opening kickoff, preseason predictions and expectations take a back seat to what occurs on the field.
But there’s still time for predictions, so here is a look at expectations for Region 1.
Knox Farragut and Science Hill appear to have the best chances to reach the top spot. The Admirals have standout offensive threats with the Gibbs brothers (Isaiah and Jaden).
It’s a close call, but Farragut gets the slight edge over the Hilltoppers. Dobyns-Bennett and Knox Bearden both fit the darkhorse role.
1. Farragut, 2. Science Hill, 3. Dobyns-Bennett, 4. Bearden, 5. Hardin Valley, 6. Jefferson County, 7. Morristown West
It could be a four-team race for the top, but Morristown East could have a leg up because of the high number of returning players. David Crockett, Tennessee High and Daniel Boone should be in the mix as well.
1. Morristown East, 2. David Crockett, 3. Daniel Boone, 4. Tennessee High, 5. Cherokee, 6. Cocke County, 7. Volunteer
It starts with Greeneville, it’s Greeneville in the middle, and it’s Greeneville at the end. The defending state champion Greene Devils are a runaway favorite.
1. Greeneville, 2. Elizabethton, 3. Sullivan South, 4. Sullivan East, 5. Grainger, 6. Union County, 7. Sullivan Central
Johnson County ran through without a loss last year, but this year’s chase looks like a mixed battle with Unicoi County, West Greene and Chuckey-Doak all stating their cases.
1. Unicoi County, 2. Johnson County, 3. Chuckey-Doak, 4. Claiborne, 5. West Greene, 6. North Greene
There are three solid teams battling for the top with Sullivan North, Hampton and Happy Valley having to earn any separation from the others.
1. Sullivan North, 2. Hampton, 3. Happy Valley, 4. South Greene, 5. Cosby
Cloudland is one of the safest picks because of tradition and annual talent.
1. Cloudland, 2. Jellico, 3. Hancock County, 4. Unaka
Ranking the football openers
(In order of entertainment value)
1. Science Hill at Elizabethton — Even when the Hilltoppers have the talent edge, the Cyclones usually find a way to make it exciting.
2. Greeneville at Dobyns-Bennett — So it’s your first game as head coach and you face a defending state champion that is an overwhelming favorite to repeat? Welcome to the hot seat, Joey Christian.
3. Sullivan South at Daniel Boone — These community rivals are both coming off good seasons, and both have a lot to prove if they want to repeat the success.
4. Seymour at David Crockett — Each team has a new head coach: former University of Tennessee standout Scott Galyon at Seymour and Hayden Chandley with the Pioneers. Therefore, the unknown element is off the charts.
5. Johnson County at Sullivan East — It’s an interesting cross-classification battle that usually reveals quite a bit about the type of seasons these teams will have.
There won’t be nearly as much on the line as there was the last time Knox Powell visited Tipton Stadium, but the game certainly carries meaning — especially for the Lady Panthers.
Science Hill defeated Powell 2-1 in a Class AAA sectional last year, earning its first state tournament berth in 12 years. The rematch is set for Tuesday at 6 p.m.
“It should be a great game with two top teams early in the season,” said Science Hill head coach David Strickland.
Daniel Boone’s boys and girls will open their seasons in the Class of the Classes event in Boone, North Carolina, on Saturday.
They will be back in action on Aug. 25 in the Run for the Hills competition at South Holston Dam. This year’s Trailblazer meet is set for Oct. 13 at Boone.
Science Hill gets started Aug. 25 in Hendersonville with the Western North Carolina Cross Country Carnival.
Dobyns-Bennett starts Sept. 8 with the Cherokee Classic in Knoxville.
Science Hill’s Jimmy Miller was chosen recently as the Tennessee head coach of the year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Miller guided the Hilltoppers to a state runner-up finish this past season.