School: Sullivan South
Coach: Stacy Carter
2006 Record: 10-2, 7-0
Offensive starters back: 6
Defensive starters back: 5
KINGSPORT — In Stacy Carter’s three years as South coach, his teams have combined for a 28-9 record. It was quite a turnaround from a period of several lean seasons.
A vital cog in this resurgence has been University of Wisconsin- bound quarterback Curt Phillips, who’ll be carrying the hopes and dreams of South’s faithful fans who yearn to reach the TSSAA pinnacle of Class 4A football.
Phillips, a shotgun quarterback, is an extension of the coaching staff.
“He’ll listen to everything you say,” Carter explained. “He helps teach the other kids. Curt really has a grasp of our no-huddle offense.”
Phillips’ statistical achievements are even more incredible when you consider he missed 3Â½ games as a sophomore because of a foot injury.
Phillips has compiled 5,058 yards of offense in two seasons. He has passed for 3,155 yards and 34 touchdowns and kept the ball for 1,903 yards and 24 TDs. Phillips has eclipsed all of the school’s passing records. Only halfback Jeremy Osborne’s record for rushing TDs appears out of his reach.
South, the Mountain Lakes Conference favorite, could win its third title in a row if things fall into place. The Rebels have a chance to three-peat for the second time in school history.
Phillips will be throwing to wide receivers Houston Martin, Kaleb Kitzmiller, Seth Johnson, Bradley Jeffers and Spencer Sandidge and to tight ends Clint Phillips, Stephen Owenby and Ty Garvin. South’s wisest foes would prefer he throw rather than keep the ball because not many 170-pound cornerbacks are going to fare well colliding with the 215-pound dynamo.
Bolstering the protection for Phillips will be offensive linemen Blake Rasnake (260, Sr.), George Harless (260, Sr.), Hunter Beedle (251, Jr.), Stephen Hopkins (205, Sr.) and T.J. Blanken (177, Jr.).
“I think you’ll see a big change in our running backs,” Carter said. Taylor Fletcher, Brad Shanks and Chris Collins have shored up that position. Bob Taylor and Clint Phillips, Curt’s younger brother, add depth.
Carter is aiming for a 50-50 ratio in passing and running.
“We don’t have but about five running plays,” Carter said, “but we’re trying to be very efficient at all of them.”
Jeffers offers insurance at quarterback. For any other Northeast Tennessee school, he likely would be starting.
“We have talent but my biggest concern is that we’re a young team,” Carter said. “A lot of guys will have to step up and lead. We’ll be good early but a whole lot better at the end of the season.”
Replacing three-year veterans such as linebackers Paul Wingfield and Justin Dykes is no easy chore.
The defensive unit is filled with younger players but, collectively, has a nose for finding ball carriers.
South has an experienced secondary in cornerback Kitzmiller, safeties Sandidge and Martin and cornerback Charlie Columbo.
Fletcher, Garvin and Clint Phillips will be the linebackers, Collins and Blanken the ends and Harless and Rasnake the down linemen.
South dropped Dobyns-Bennett from its schedule and picked up another 5A school in Science Hill.