published Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Gossett blog: No 6A teams in Hamilton County

Hamilton County no longer has a contender for the Class 6A state football championship unless somebody chooses to play up.

Soddy-Daisy, the last school in the county that the TSSAA had in Class 6A, will be classified in 5A after this year. The fruits of a best-forgotten county schools superintendent's intent to have a majority of same-size schools are beginning to show.

Barring some major shifting by the TSSAA Board of Control in the next week or two, the Trojans will remain in Region 5-AAA and compete against Bradley Central, Cleveland, McMinn County, Rhea County, Walker Valley, Ooltewah and newcomer East Hamilton.

McMinn and Bradley remain 6A contenders, joined next season by Walker Valley. The rest will be in the 5A postseason.

Wonder what's going to happen in District 6-AA with the departure of East Hamilton? There are some other class shifts here with Brainerd and Red Bank falling from Class 4A status to Class 3A to join Howard and Tyner. The 4A teams in the district, at least for now, are Central, East Ridge and Hixson.

Will the state association leave it as is? Could Polk County return to the area from District 5-AA or go north to join McMinn Central as a new member in a district including Loudon and Kingston? Does the TSSAA move Notre Dame, Chattanooga Christian or Signal Mountain from District 7-AA, where they're grouped with Bledsoe County, Grundy County and Sequatchie County, to 6-AA?

From a geographic standpoint, it seems best to leave Signal in 7-AA and move Notre Dame or CCS to 6-AA, if indeed a change is made.

Signal Mountain, which chose to move up to 4A for the postseason last year and this year, originally indicated it would drop to 3A level but since has reversed that. Notre Dame, which has been classified as a 4A playoff team because of the multiplier for private schools playing in the state's public school division, also will be designated as a 3A team for the playoffs.

It appears also that District 5-A will get a new member with Meigs County dropping from Class 3A in football playoffs to Class 2A. The Decatur school could join Boyd-Buchanan, Copper Basin, Grace Baptist and Silverdale Baptist. However, much will depend on the TSSAA's decisions regarding District 5-AA.

• Elsewhere, Friendship Christian likely made a number of Division I schools happy by announcing its move to Division II-A. Friendship won Division I state championships last year in football, volleyball and boys' basketball.

The only other major midstate news regarding classification was the move of Pearl-Cohn from 3A to 4A and Centennial, Hendersonville and Station Camp from 5A to 6A.

  • • One of the major moves in Knoxville will be Catholic dropping from its 5A-6A region back to Class 4A. Catholic, with an actual enrollment of 695, had been forced to play up with schools of enrollments of 1,700 or more. It was bounced up because of the antiquated 1.8 multiplier slapped on private schools that choose to play in Division I. The Irish won the Class 3A state championship in 2008.
  • • It was overlooked with the numerous public school changes, but over in Division II defending AA state football champ Ensworth and Brentwood Academy are classified as Class A schools and could play in the private schools' lower division beginning next year. They currently are one-two in the DII-AA East/Middle standings.
  • • I saw the best pure football game I've seen all year last Friday: South Pittsburg at Polk County. It wasn't either team's most precise game, but it was a hard-hitting, pass-only-when-you-have to affair. It was Polk's power back and precision blocking against South Pittsburg's speed. The speed ultimately won, South Pitt scoring two touchdowns in the final three minutes for a 21-14 win.
  • • McMinn County already has locked up its best showing since 2003 when the Cherokees went 9-3 under Erik Hutchins. Bo Cagle's bunch this year are 8-1 and host Bradley Central on Friday in the state's second-oldest rivalry with the District 5-AAA championship on the line.
  • • Walker Valley has its first five-win season since 2008, the only winning year former coach Ted Lockerby had, but while it is an improvement, first-year coach Glen Ryan would view a .500 finish as mediocre, and he'd be the first to tell you that mediocre is unacceptable. The Mustangs will be home Friday against Ooltewah, which also is trying to secure a playoff berth.
  • • His Sequatchie County team won't be advancing this year, but Chad Barger has been a wonderful coach for the Indians, getting them into the postseason in four of his five seasons. He's the first coach since John Mackersie (1998-2003) to stay in Dunlap at least five years since Sid Fritts was there from 1988 to '93.
  • • Brainerd closes out its season Friday, and the Panthers are looking at their worst season since the 2004 team won just one of nine games (26-10 over Central). Central also will have a losing year, its eighth in nine seasons. Believe it or not, the last two coaches to have winning seasons at Central are Sam Montgomery and Curt Jones, both assistants at Sequatchie County.
  • • With a win Friday over Central, District 6-AA runner-up Hixson will have the most wins a Wildcats team has had since the Bullocks brothers helped Dan Duff's team to a 9-3 record. Just to mention and to give the Wildcats additional incentive, no Hixson team has had a 10-win year.
  • • If Red Bank falls short against Tyner on Friday, it might wind up being the first time since 2003 that the Lions have failed to make the playoffs. That was Tim Daniels' second season as head coach, and everybody surely knows what he did after that -- eight straight postseason years.
  • • As playoff strings go, Tyner is on the bubble, but the Rams have been in the postseason 18 consecutive seasons, last missing in 1993.
  • • Marion County (8-2) has finished regular-season play and the Warriors already are assured of at least the second-best record the school has had since its 15-0 year in 1995. Troy Boeck, now an assistant at Signal Mountain, had an 11-3 record in 2008.
  • • South Pittsburg has another strong test when it plays Knoxville's Grace Christian on Friday. The Pirates are 7-2, and the last time they lost three games in the regular season and still made the playoffs was 1992, and Don Grider was the coach.
  • • Date and site for the sixth annual Toyota East-West all-star game have been set for 2 p.m. Dec. 8 at Tennessee Tech's Tucker Stadium. The game will serve as an extension of Cookeville's championship week, which includes the TSSAA state championship series. Those games are scheduled to begin on Thursday, Nov. 29, with the Division II games and conclude on Dec. 1.
  • • It's off the football path, but I have to say I was most impressed the last couple of weeks with softball programs at both Heritage and Gordon Lee. Facilities at Heritage are unreal, and the Generals evidently have the talent to match. Gordon Lee plays pressure softball, but one thing I noticed about both teams: It's obvious watching the girls that they have played the game for years. There is no unnatural motion when they throw. They snap the ball and they catch it with no awkwardness whatsoever. There is such a major difference in Georgia softball in the northern and southern halves of the state.

And I have to admit I felt sorry for the Charlton County team that Gordon Lee played last Wednesday. They got up at who-knows when and left school at Folkston, Ga., at 6 a.m. From what I hear, it's a 400-mile trip, and they made the trip on a standard school bus. I know money is tight these days, but it seems to me that maybe the school should've come up with the money for a charter bus. At least the girls didn't have to get beat twice in games shortened by the run rule, then climb on that bus for another miserable ride. They stayed over Wednesday night and left early Thursday morning.

• Before I leave Heritage as a subject, the uneducated football followers down there are grumbling about wanting a change from coach Tim James.

Yes, the Generals are winless, but how quickly people forget the numbers. In order to win last year, James played a lot of seniors -- close to three dozen among the first two units on either side of the ball -- so there was little in the way of experienced depth returning this year. Try surviving in that league, let alone competing, with so little experience.

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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