published Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Marion enjoys playoff bye after 'stressful' season

Marion County is the only Tennessee high school football team in the area that hasn't yet packed its gear but isn't playing tonight.

The Class 2A Warriors drew a bye in the 24-team bracket and will host the winner between Trousdale County and Jackson County next week.

"It's hard to lose," said Marion coach Mac McCurry when he began listing the good things about an open date/off week. "We're certainly not looking at it as a negative. It's valuable time. We've worked as many younger people as we could and we have given some kids a second look. We have just been working on the Warriors, trying to develop some depth and trying to make ourselves better."

The tempo has been a little more relaxed, which he said has allowed the team and its coaches to catch their breath.

"The season was very stressful — a young defense that people have scored on and a little older offense where we knew any series we didn't score might cost us — so this is a chance to have a little bit of a breather," he said. "It's a chance to heal some bumps and bruises. We were already starting to get healthy, but the time has allowed some guys we weren't sure were 100 percent to get back to 100 percent."

Cheatham fourth best?

In assessing unbeaten Cheatham County, the team his Yellow Jackets will play tonight, Grundy County coach Nick Bryant said, "They're probably the fourth best team we have played behind Signal [Mountain], Notre Dame and South Pittsburg."

He said this game was different from last year's playoff opener against Goodpasture, which overwhelmed Grundy County with depth.

"Cheatham County, all their guys play both ways with the exception of a couple of linemen," he said.

The Ashland City team was in the playoffs last year for the first time since 2007 and lost in the first round to Christ Presbyterian.

Calm down, guys

For the first time in decades, Hixson's football booster club has something to do in November. With a 7-3 team and a trip to the playoffs, the boosters have been busy.

First-year coach Jason Fitzgerald had to get them to take his face off "Comeback Kids" T-shirts they were printing. They left Hixson and "Comeback Kids" on the front and substituted a team photo on the back for the coach's mug.

While he is proud of the team's accomplishments -- winning seven games for the first time since 1998 -- Fitzgerald had to change directions earlier this week.

"I told them, 'Guys, we're just 7-3. It's not like we have set the world on fire,'" he said.

"All you can ask is a chance to get this far, to be playing in Week 11, and then see what happens."

McKamey goes home

Knoxville Grace Christian running back Will McKamey, who sustained a brain injury last Friday against South Pittsburg, has returned home after spending almost a week at Erlanger hospital.

McKamey took a hard hit to the head on a two-point-conversion attempt in the fourth quarter. Moments later he collapsed on the sideline and began having seizures. He was airlifted to Erlanger, where he stayed in intensive care for six days to allow doctors to monitor swelling on his brain. Surgery was not required, and while he will not play again this season, returning to the field in the future has not been ruled out. He has committed to play for the Naval Academy.

McKamey's mother, Kara, told the Knoxville News Sentinel that doctors have said they expect his brain to fully heal in four to five weeks and that he could still fulfill his commitment to the Midshipmen.

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