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This week, we look at McCallie's Div. II-AAA semifinal win over Ensworth, Div. II state title pairings, Div. I state semifinal matchups, and even some family-favorite Thanksgiving dishes in coaches' interviews!

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Published by YHSS, 2019-11-27 21:36:25

YHSS The Magazine Vol. 14

This week, we look at McCallie's Div. II-AAA semifinal win over Ensworth, Div. II state title pairings, Div. I state semifinal matchups, and even some family-favorite Thanksgiving dishes in coaches' interviews!


Jake Nichols

Bio: Originally from Jackson, After growing up around the sport

TN, Jake Nichols has been with of football, Jake knew he wanted

Your High School Sports since July to make a career out of his favorite

of 2019.
sport. He is excited to bring

broadcasting, writing, and

He graduated from The University photography experience to the

of Tennessee in 2019 with a degree team at Your High School Sports

in Journalism and Electronic Media.
and looks forward to this season.

Division I semifinal matchups

(all to take place November 29 at 7:00 p.m. local time)

Division I Class 1A
South Pittsburg (12-0) at Greenback (11-2)
Lake County (13-0) at Huntingdon (13-0)

Division I Class 2A
Trousdale (11-0) at Meigs Co. (12-1)
Peabody (13-0) at Riverside (8-5)

Division I Class 3A
Loudon (13-0) at Alcoa (12-1)
Covington (11-2) at Pearl-Cohn (13-0)

Division I Class 4A
Nolensville (11-2) at Elizabethton (13-0)

Haywood (12-1) at Springfield (10-3)

Division I Class 5A
West (12-1) at Central (11-2)
Dyer Co. (11-2) at Summit (11-2)

Class 6A
Oakland (13-0) at Maryville (13-0)
Houston (13-0) at Ravenwood (12-1)

Now that the semifinal matchups are
set, let’s dig a little deeper into some
of the teams from East Tennessee..

A QUICK LOOK into a few of the premier teams lining up for
semifinal kickoffs this Friday night:

(includes quotes from coaches, teams’ records, summaries and a surprise piece of
Thanksgiving knowledge from each coach interviewed for this piece)

Loudon Redskins
Head coach: Jeff Harig
Record: 13-0

How they got here:

The Redskins defeated Red Bank for a second time this season,
beating the Lions 24-7. “Being at a rural school like this, it’s so hard
to maintain consistency year in and year out. Some years, it might

be 3-7. And then you get these special years, once in a decade
or so, where you’ve got enough talent to compete with

”A lot of people didn’t give us the credit we thought we
deserved,” added Harig. “It validates who we thought we
could be. Our guys went out and earned it on the field the old-

fashioned way.”

But Loudon faces a tough test this week, as the Redskins will face
the defending 3A state champion Alcoa Tornadoes. That, Harig said,
will be an entirely different animal than what his team has seen thus
far this season. “Alcoa’s been around and played a lot of high-level
of football,” Harig said. “It’ll take a little different level of execution
by us to stay competitive. They’re almost unbeatable in 3A football.”

Thanksgiving Plans

Harig said the Redskins will have a team breakfast before practice,
same as in 2014. “Hopefully they don’t over-eat too much,” he joked.

Coach’s Plate- the one “must-have” for Turkey Day

Cabbage Casserole- “Everybody’s going to have the traditional
items, but I’m a cabbage casserole kind of guy. It beats traditional

Thanksgiving fare for me, I think.”

Alcoa Tornadoes
Head coach: Gary Rankin
Record: 12-1
How they got here:

The Tornadoes defeated Austin-East 56-28 in the quarterfinals to
advance to this week’s semifinal matchup, where they’ll face the

Loudon Redskins for a shot at the 3A crown. Against the
Roadrunners, the Alcoa defense allowed the most points of the
season, but Rankin is more inclined to say that Trey Foster and the
Roadrunners “took ‘em,” rather than the other way around. Still, the

Tornadoes advanced, putting Rankin in his 23rd semifinal
appearance as a head coach. “It’s an amazing feat,” Rankin said. “I
feel blessed.” The Tornadoes’ one loss this season came against rival
Maryville in a 17-3 matchup. Still, the expectation has remained the
same throughout the year for Alcoa, even with a younger group after
the graduation of a core group of seniors last season. “Our kids think
they’re supposed to be here every year,” Rankin said. “There’s good
and bad in that. They understand if you lose, you go home.. I told
them the other day, ‘Don’t think everybody else don’t want to win

the state championship too. They do.’”

Thanksgiving plans:

For Rankin and the Tornadoes, Turkey Day will be all-business,
same as any other year. They’ll practice for an hour, then head
home. “Our best thing is to get the work done and let the kids and

coaches go be with their families,” Rankin said.

Coach’s Plate- the one “must-have” for Turkey Day

“Probably turkey,” Rankin said. “It’s a good day for me.” When
asked about side dishes, Rankin did divulge that he enjoys

“macaroni and cheese… and dessert. My wife’s a good cook so she’ll
have something.”

West Rebels

Head coach: Lamar Brown
Record: 12-1

How they got here:

To reach the semifinals, West took down Powell in a rematch of
what were two unbeaten teams when they met in the regular season.
The Panthers won 21-20 in overtime, but Brown and the Rebels fist-
pumped their way to a 31-14 win over Powell last week. ““We faced

some adversity earlier this year, and our kids responded,” Brown
said. “That loss- it hurt them. They battled back and fought. We’re a

mentally tough football team, and the love this team shows each
other is just unbelievable.” Now, the Rebels will face the defending
5A state champion in Knox Central, which Brown referred to as the
current “benchmark” in Knox County football. The Rebels’ coach

has led his team in a major culture change at West, meaning his
team is ready to play on and off the field. Still, he doesn’t take this
time of year for granted, either. “There’s no better day to practice on
Thanksgiving, with this bunch of kids that means so much to me,”
Brown said. “I think that’s the goal of every player and coach in this
state- when you practice on Thanksgiving, you know you’ve had a

heck of a year.”

Thanksgiving plans:

On Thursday, the Rebels will practice and fellowship as a team
before giving players the day off to go home with their families.

Coach’s Plate- the one “must-have” for Turkey Day

“Oh me, that’s a hard question. Probably my mother-in-law’s ham,
and then five-layer salad,” Brown said.

Maryville Rebels
Head coach: Derek Hunt
Record: 13-0
How they got here:

In the quarterfinals, Maryville defeated Dobyns-Bennett 45-10.
Now, Derek Hunt’s team is in search of its 17th state title in program

history, with the most recent championship coming in 2017. With
such a storied past, the Rebels’ appearance in the semifinals is
nothing new. Still, Hunt is encouraging his team to realize how

special it is, even with the success Maryville has seen. “Well, we’ve
been fortunate enough to (practice on Thanksgiving) a lot over the
last few years,” Hunt said. “I think we’re spoiled and may not even
realize it. Eating breakfast as a team on Thanksgiving morning is
certainly very special. Football really is a brotherhood, and those

kids are tight. We’re looking forward to it again.”
This year, Hunt’s Rebels will face an Oakland team that currently
ranks No. 1 in the state, No. 2 in the Your High School Sports poll.
The Patriots feature several blue-chip prospects on the roster, and

Kevin Creasy led his team to a 38-0 win over Maryville in the
playoffs last season. “Oakland is a great combination of really good

players with a lot of talent and great coaching,” Hunt said. “We
expect a really tough game, and obviously we’ll have to play really
well in order to win.. Our kids are excited for another opportunity to

go up against the state’s best.”

Thanksgiving plans:

This year, Hunt’s team will practice with one another before
heading home to be with their families.

Coach’s plate- the one “must-have” for Turkey Day

“For me, it’s my grandmother’s green beans,” Hunt said. “We call
her Mamaw, so.. the ones with bacon and all that good stuff.”

Central Bobcats

Head coach: Bryson Rosser
Record: 11-2

How they got here:

For 10 straight weeks in the regular season, Central remained
undefeated. Two late losses halted the Bobcats’ progress, as South-

Doyle and Gibbs upset Central in the final two weeks. But they
rebounded quickly to defeat both of those teams and David Crockett

in order to advance to the semifinal round, with the South-Doyle
game coming down to the wire at 20-16. “In the fourth quarter, it
was like a heavyweight bout with haymakers going back and forth,

and we were fortunate to land the last punch,” Rosser said.
Now, the Bobcats will face a strong West team, but after four
straight semifinal trips, two recent state title appearances and a
2018 Class 5A state championship, this road is nothing new. Others
teams have noticed. Even West coach Lamar Brown referred to
Central as a “benchmark” program. “It’s humbling,” Rosser said.
“We’ve been fortunate to win some tough games in November the

last couple of years.”

Thanksgiving plans

This year’s practice will look no different than those in the past for
Rosser’s team. The Bobcats have a team breakfast with family

members, followed by time spent swapping stories and hearing from
former Central players, before hitting the practice field. “We tell
stories and just enjoy one another,” Rosser said. “It’s one of many
things to be thankful for for those three hours we’re together.”

Coach’s plate- the one “must-have” for Turkey Day”

“It’s a close tie between mac-and-cheese and sweet potato pie,”
Rosser said. “My wife does a heck of a job with macaroni and


TOP 10

1. Maryville 6. Houston
2. Oakland 7. Knox West
3. McCallie 8. Ravenwood
4. Pearl-Cohn 9. Knox Central
5. Alcoa 10. Loudon

(Note: all players who participated in 2019-20 season
ranked according through season’s end, whether team has

been eliminated from contention or not)

TOP 17


1. Reggie Grimes, 9. Jay Hardy, McCallie

Ravenwood 10. De’Arre McDonald,

2. Elijah Young, South- Oakland

Doyle 11. Martavius French,

3. Tee Hodge, Maryville Whitehaven

4. Elijah Howard, Baylor 12. Navy Shuler, Christ

5. Keshawn Lawrence, School (NC)

Ensworth School 13. Trenton Adkins,

6. Bryson Eason, Ridgeview (VA)

Whitehaven 14. A.J. Davis, Maryville

7. Omari Thomas, 15. Tyrece Edwards, West

Briarcrest 16. Lincoln Pare, Houston

8. Cooper Mays, Catholic 17. DeAngelo Hardy,

9. Marcus Henderson, MUS McCallie

Three Virginia matchups (region title games) to watch
this week:

George Wythe @ Galax
Wise Co. Central vs. Graham
Patrick Henry vs. J.I. Burton

(in association with Mystic Mountain Media)

Company Directory

Office Address:
400 Park Road
Sevierville, TN 37764
Phone: (865) 306-9159

Roddy Woods……………………………… President & CEO

Victoria Green…………………… Vice President & CFO

Jake Nichols……………… Editor-in-Chief, Broadcaster,

Substitute Show Co-Host

Chris Reddick…………………… Production Manager &

Show Co-Host

Chris Blevins………………………………. Show Co-Host

Bart Lyons…………………………………… Associate

Show Co-Hos

Note: Cover design, artistry, layout, all pictures, articles, graphics, and page
designs courtesy of Jake Nichols

THANK YOU for reading this week’s
issue of Your High School Sports: The


We’re thankful for all of you who
follow along, whether on Twitter,
Facebook, Instagram, or through our

website and magazine.

Be sure and look for next week’s issue,
as we close another chapter of high
school football with a state
championship recap and possibly an
extra postseason issue!

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