Kingsport’s community football spirit should get an opening-week spike with two marquee games that are expected to generate huge benefits to the 2008 season.
Crossover games between 4A and 5A classifications will have Tennessee High at Dobyns-Bennett tonight and Sullivan South at Science Hill Friday night.
D-B will be hosting the first outdoors game on artificial surface in the Tri-Cities, stirring memories of a similar meeting between the two.
In September 1989, No. 4-ranked Tennessee High took its home game indoors because of heavy rains from Hurricane Hugo and lost to D-B 20-14 at East Tennessee State’s Memorial Center.
An offensive show is expected at J. Fred Johnson Stadium. D-B has speedy Chris Sensabaugh in its backfield and the Vikings’ combustion comes from the fleet feet of Keenan Shepard.
“Each team has a quality running back, but both take pride in playing defense,’’ D-B coach Graham Clark said. “The scoring output may depend a lot on the number of mistakes that usually come in an opener.’’
THS coach Greg Stubbs realizes the perils of being involved in a landmark game in Kingsport.
“It’s always tough opening with a program like D-B’s,’’ he said. “There is a mystique over there.’’
The game was rescheduled to avoid conflict with Bristol’s race weekend.
“You can’t make folks choose between two great Southern cultural events like NASCAR and high school football,’’ Clark said, pointing out this will be D-B’s only Thursday game of the year.
A Class 5A team, D-B is the Big East Conference favorite. Tennessee High was picked second in the Class 4A Mountain Lakes Conference.
The Indians and Vikings swapped films of two preseason scrimmages.
“Films of scrimmages look like they were taken from the top of a school bus,’’ Clark said, “but we’re glad to have them.’’
South’s defense will be facing an offense new to the Northeast Tennessee landscape. Science Hill plans to unveil a spinner formation that bears a resemblance to the ancient single wing.
“The quarterback takes a direct snap and spins,’’ Science Hill coach Scott Smith said. “The other backs are coming and going in all directions.’’
South coach Stacy Carter wants his team to play assignment defense.
“The best thing to do is to stay home and let them come to you,’’ Carter said.
The Hilltoppers, picked third in the Big East, will have split-duty quarterbacks. Isaac Kinley and Daniel Norris have taken a total of only four varsity snaps.
“Kinley is quick and they have a lot of other athletes,’’ Carter said. “We’re optimistic, but it is an opening game. We just want to keeping things simple and execute our basic plays.’’
South, looking for its fourth straight Mountain Lakes title, also will have a new quarterback. Bradley Davenport inherits the reins from all-stater Curt Phillips.
“Bradley showed a lot of promise in the jamboree,’’ Carter said. “He’s essentially a running back in our shotgun offense.’’
The ’Toppers lost to South 27-7 last year.
“Actually, they’re better than last year,” Smith said. “The new quarterback is good and he has 10 big, physical guys surrounding him. South’s defensive front seven are as good as any I’ve seen in a while.’’
Science Hill placekicker Brandon McAuley, who has a torn groin muscle, will not play. Jay Lauderback emerged from tryouts as his replacement.
“I’ll be surprised if it’s a high-scoring game,’’ Smith said.
Also This Week
Sullivan North (0-0) at David Crockett (0-0)
Defense has become a trademark of both teams. If QB Jamie Copas’ shoulder is healed, it could give Crockett a needed offensive spark. North’s attack is powered by QB Eric Pearcy and FB Hunter McReynolds. Both teams play offense close to the vest, indicating an easy night for the scorekeeper.
Grainger (0-0) at Cherokee (0-0)
With Rutledge High School no longer in existence, this will be the first athletic event for the Grainger Grizzlies. Cherokee, a Class 4A team, defeated Rutledge in their last three meetings and is favored to carry the streak over to Grainger (3A).