- East Hamilton — Experience, depth, talent, size, speed, coaching. The Hurricanes have all the ingredients for another deep playoff run.
- Calhoun — Names change, but expectations remain the same for the area’s most consistent power program.
- Ridgeland — Despite having to replace much of the offensive backfield from last year’s state runners-up, the Panthers have young talent eager to step up.
- Signal Mountain — The Eagles have size and plenty of experience back from a team that was one of the area’s toughest by last season’s end.
- Cleveland — The once-proud program has been waiting for years for all the pieces to fall back into place. This should be the year.
- Notre Dame — The Fighting Irish return 94 percent of their offense from last year’s nine-win team.
- Baylor — Now that the quarterback job is all his, Nick Tiano has been impressive in the preseason. A young defense has playmakers but lacks experience.
- McCallie — The talent level is inching back to where it needs to be in a rugged conference. The Blue Tornado have plenty of speed to create big plays.
- Hixson — Last year’s surprise team is now a district favorite and has the talent and confidence to back that up.
- Boyd-Buchanan — The perennial playoff power fell one step shy of the Class 2A state title game last year and will be in the mix again.
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 ...
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