As the season rolls on, some things become clear and there’s less dissension among the ranks. But, as we all know, it’s still anybody’s ball game and some upsets could set everyone back. A few upsets this week could do big things for a few of our team members who ventured out of line and decided to pick the underdogs.
WHERE THEY STAND
One of the folks who benefited from some risks last week was Kevin Mays who posted his best week of the year with a 15-4 mark. That tied Doug Fritz for the best record of the week, and helped Mays close the gap (which was getting a little wider than he’d like early on). Fritz’ strong showing helped him retake the lead in the Kingsport standings with a 46-18 mark, a game ahead of last week’s leader Jeff Birchfield (now 45-19 after a 13-6 week). Avento (44-20), Cook (43-21) and Mays (40-24) are hanging close by.
In Johnson City, where Jamie Combs picks in place of Mays and a few upper East Tennessee games are subbed in for the Southwest Virginia contests, Birchfield is the leader (34-17) followed by Combs (33-18), Fritz (32-19), Cook (31-20) and Avento (29-22).
Before we look at the games that could separate the pack this week, let’s look at the games on which they’re in full agreement.
🏈 COMBINED PICKS: All six panelists are picking Dobyns-Bennett over Hardin Valley, Science Hill over Jefferson County, David Crockett over Cocke County and Sullivan South over Sullivan Central. All six are also rolling with the Gators to beat the Vols.
🏈 KTN PANEL: All five pickers on the Kingsport panel predict: Cherokee over Volunteer, Patrick Henry over Lee, Ridgeview over Gate City, J.I. Burton over Twin Springs in the high school ranks and Virginia over Old Dominion in the college ranks.
🏈 JCP PANEL: All five pickers on the Johnson City panel predict: Elizabethton over Grainger, Happy Valley over Cosby, Unicoi County over Claiborne and Cloudland over Hancock County.
LONE WOLF PICKS
There are nine games on which most everyone agrees — with the exception of one lone wolf who’s picking the team most others see as the underdog.
🏈 5-1 FAVORITES: Union County over Sullivan East and South Greene over Sullivan North. In both cases, Mays is the odd man out. He believes the Patriots and Raiders pick up the wins.
🏈 SOLO IN THE PROS: Cook is flying solo in the pros this week, as the only panelists picking Jacksonville against Tennessee. (Titans fans shouldn’t worry, though, as Cook freely admits he missed every pick involving Tennessee’s pro team last year).
🏈 KTN 4-1 FAVORITES: Avento, the sports director for both papers, is riding solo on three games in Virginia this week and one of them will make our big Bears’ fanbase happy. Avento cast the lone vote of confidence for Union against Graham, Rye Cove against Thomas Walker and Eastside against Chilhowie. In the college ranks, Mays — who should know the subject matter best of all — is the sole vote for UVa-Wise to pick up the win against Mars Hill.
🏈 JCP 4-1 FAVORITES: Two games have lone wolf picks in Johnson City: Combs is bucking the trend and picking West Greene to upend Johnson County while Avento is picking Unaka over Jellico.
THE BIG THREE
That leaves just two games dividing our team. Here is how it breaks down.
🏈 Abingdon 3, Richlands 2 — Fritz, Avento and Mays believe this is the year the Falcons take flight against the Blue Tornado; Cook (an Abingdon grad who even hung with them a week ago when things didn’t go so well) and Birchfield are picking Richlands.
🏈 ETSU 4, Austin Peay 2 — Avento, Birchfield, Fritz and Mays see the Bucs getting back on track this week; Combs and Cook aren’t so sure. They’ll hang their hats on an Austin Peay victory.
Check out this week’s football picks every week in the Thursday papers ~ both Kingsport Times News and Johnson City Press ~ and share your thoughts about them in social media where you can find us @tnsportslive. Be sure to give us a follow for all the latest sports coverage throughout the year, and join us every Sports Live Friday Night for scoring updates, game coverage, photo galleries and more.