Rebels knock out Tribe, make state semifinals for 20th straight year

Maryville, shown here against Dobyns-Bennett in last year’s Class 6A playoffs, is on Science Hill’s regular season schedule this year — a Sept. 24 battle in Maryville.

When teams line up for the first two football games each season, a different picture inevitably begins to emerge.

But before this year’s season gets under the lights, let’s take a look at which teams appear to have the toughest schedules.

For the purpose of these rankings — and comparing different classifications — the number associated with each team is based on a degree of difficulty that is weighted toward non-region games. However, some consideration is given for tough road games within region play.

The highest possible score is 10 while the lowest is 1.

Science Hill — 9.0: The Hilltoppers top the list mainly because they put a road game against Maryville on the slate. Elizabethton, Anderson County (away), Powell, and rival Daniel Boone provide no breathers on the list. Also, the Hilltoppers’ rival league game against Dobyns-Bennett is on the road.

Elizabethton — 8.8: All four games are serious challenges: Science Hill (away), Rhea County, Daniel Boone and Anderson County.

Daniel Boone — 8.6: It’s no surprise to see the Trailblazers high on this list. This year they take on Elizabethton (away), Christian Academy of Knoxville, Science Hill (away) and West Ridge.

Volunteer — 8.1: Sign the Falcons up for big-time challenges from West Ridge, Dobyns-Bennett (away) and Tennessee High. And their league game against Greeneville is on the road.

Dobyns-Bennett — 7.7: Greeneville, Oak Ridge and Tennessee High — all on the road — give the Indians plenty of strength for their schedule.

Hampton — 7.4: With road games against Gatlinburg-Pittman and Daniel Boone, the Bulldogs have a beefed-up schedule.

David Crockett — 7.0: A road trip to Dobyns-Bennett highlights the Pioneers’ slate, which also includes West Ridge and a potentially challenging out-of-state opponent in Pisgah, North Carolina.

Other ratings: West Ridge 6.5; Tennessee High 6.2; Unicoi County 5.8; Happy Valley 5.6; Johnson County 5.4; Cloudland 5.2; Sullivan East 5.0; Cherokee 5.0; Unaka 5.0

SCHEDULE QUIRK

Because Elizabethton has only been able to schedule nine games — and because the Cyclones’ last three Region 1-4A games are on the road — the Cyclones don’t play at home in October.

Barring a late change, they could be forced to hold Senior Night in September.

INCREASING STATURE

One of the best players in the nation has reportedly moved into the Class 5A ranks in Knoxville.

Walter Nolen III, the nation’s No. 1 defensive lineman recruit according to 247Sports Composite — and the No. 3 player overall — has enrolled at Powell, according to reports in the Memphis Commercial Appeal and The Tennessean. Nolen’s top five schools are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Tennessee, but his move to the Knoxville area fuels speculation that the Vols could be a favorite.

The transfer of Nolen, who played last year at St. Benedict in the Memphis area, could impact area high school football in a couple of ways. The Panthers play at Science Hill on Sept. 10. Also, Powell would potentially be in the way of area teams in the playoffs — although being in Region 3, they wouldn’t face a Region 1 team until the semifinals.

Powell has gone 21-4 over the last two seasons.

SOFTBALL NEWS

Elite Softball Recruiting is holding a showcase event at the Elizabethton High School field on Thursday.

The head scouting director for the organization is former ETSU and University of Tennessee baseball standout Jackson Greer. Greer, a catcher, played with the Vols on this year’s College World Series team.

The event allows players a chance to show off their skills in front of college coaches.

“They do catcher’s pop time, pitcher’s speed, bat velocity, everything,” said Elizabethton head coach Ken Hardin. “And it’s about one-fourth the price of what most companies charge. Jackson just started this business, and it’s a great deal for the kids.”

As of early Monday, there were only two of the 50 spots in the camp still available, according to the Elite Softball Facebook page.

“We will have 12 different college coaches coming,” Hardin said. “And the girls are from all over. It will be exposure for them, and will give college coaches a chance to look at them. And the videos the girls get, they can use them down the road and send to other college coaches. Also, they can see the recruiting process and get used to talking to the coaches.”

Hardin said four of his players will participate in the event: Madisun Pritchard, Maddie O’Quinn, Ember Jensen and Cheyenne Poiroux. Other area schools with players in the event include Daniel Boone, Sullivan East, Cherokee and Volunteer.

The event begins at 9 a.m. and will run into the early afternoon.

“We may be doing another one in the fall,” Hardin said.

NEW COACH

Josh Shuler has taken over as head coach of wrestling at Tennessee High. Shuler had been head coach at Virginia High since 2010.

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