Having won five of its last six games to finish second in a district full of larger high schools, Tyner appeared poised for a deep run in the Class 3A football state playoffs. But that potential took a gut-shot when the playoff brackets were announced Saturday morning.
The Rams are paired against top-ranked, five-time defending state champion Alcoa in the first round.
"We got shafted," Tyner coach Wayne Turner said. "Nobody in our class wants to play us, so we had to schedule a bunch of bigger schools and that cost us. We finish second in a district with mostly 4A teams, and this is what they gave us.
"We'll deal with it, but to me the whole system sucks."
The playoffs begin Friday and will culminate with eight state championship games Dec. 3-5 at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.
Besides unbeaten Alcoa, the other six teams making up Tyner's quadrant have a combined record of 47-13 and include two other area district champions, Polk County and Bledsoe County.
The TSSAA voted to change its playoff selection process last summer, switching from the region format it had used the previous 16 years. The new system was fraught with uncertainty leading up to Saturday's bracket announcements.
That doubt quickly turned to anger among coaches and fans throughout the state when numerous mistakes caused TSSAA officials to withdraw the brackets moments after they were released. The brackets were taken off the TSSAA Web site for several hours before the corrected version reappeared at 3 p.m. EDT.
"The last thing we want to have is mistakes," said TSSAA assistant director Matthew Gillespie. "We apologize for any miscommunication or errors that we made when the brackets were first released, but we worked immediately to correct those.
"We knew there would be some challenges because it's new and it's so different than any previous playoff format we have used."
The confusion caused many area coaches to have to wait until midafternoon before they could begin preparing for first-round games.
"The first time the brackets were posted, we were playing Eagleville," Lookout Valley coach Tony Webb said. "I was scrambling to get in touch with their coach, and then I got a call saying we would be playing somebody else, so I had to sit and wait for a while before finally finding out we had Gordonsville.
"We're all in scramble mode now. We'll spend the rest of the weekend watching film and putting together our plan. I think everybody will be burning the midnight oil since we're getting such a late start."
South Pittsburg has a bye
Copper Basin (5-5) at Coalfield (3-7)
Lookout Valley (7-3) at Gordonsville (6-4)
Boyd-Buchanan has a bye
Marion County (6-4) at Forrest (9-1)
Silverdale Baptist (5-5) at Signal Mountain (9-1)
Tyner (6-4) at Alcoa (10-0)
McMinn Central (7-3) at CAK (9-1)
Loudon (8-2) at Bledsoe County (8-2)
Kingston (5-5) at Polk County (10-0)
Grundy County (5-5) at Goodpasture (8-2)
York Institute (7-3) at Sequatchie County (6-4)
Gibbs (6-4) at Red Bank (10-0)
East Ridge (7-3) at Fulton (7-3)
Brainerd (7-3) at Claiborne (8-2)
Central (5-5) at Greenville (7-3)
Cleveland (3-7) at Columbia (9-1)
Farragut (8-2) at Ooltewah (9-1)
Oak Ridge (7-3) at McMinn County (8-2)
McCallie (4-6) at Briarcrest (6-4)
St. Benedict (3-7) at Baylor (6-4)
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 23 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including nine in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation at the Associated ...