With scholarship hopes in mind, Hixson wide receiver Allante Novene is one of a half-dozen Chattanooga area football players who'll be competing Saturday in the annual Border Bowl at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
"Hopefully they'll get seen by [college] coaches in practice and during the game and show enough that it will lead to them playing at the next level," said Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds, who coached in the first Border Bowl in 2008.
Novene left Wednesday along with quarterback Hagen Wilkey and lineman Malik Brewer of Red Bank, linebacker/fullback Rance Hardin and center/defensive lineman Austin Bailey of Boyd-Buchanan. East Ridge tight end/long snapper Mike Johnson went up early with Pioneers coach Tracy Malone, who's serving as Team Tennessee's defensive coordinator.
They practiced Thursday and will do so again today in preparation for Saturday's game, which kicks off at noon.
"It's a chance to play again and another good opportunity for guys to get better," said Novene, a three-sport letterman. "It's a chance to represent Tennessee in a good way. It may help a lot of people get to college, and it's definitely a chance for us to be seen a possibly get a scholarship."
Austin Peay is the university that has shown the most interest in Novene, and he is looking at the game as pure opportunity.
"I want to show what I can do against people that are going to be at the next level and that I'm good enough to compete at the next level," he said.
Track will figure into the picture for Novene. He is a member of Hixson's state championship 4x400 relay team.
"If I do go play college football, I want to run track as well," he said.
Austin Peay has a track team but Novene is leaving the door open, saying, "You never know what can happen."
Saturday's game, bragging rights aside, is still a showcase.
"I think so," Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "Hopefully Allante will do well, plus we have sent tape to 40 schools across the Southeast."
Boyd-Buchanan's Brewer got a leg up on recruiting when he attended the Marine Corps' 2012 Semper Fi combine as a junior and later attended some Division I school camps.
"We're trying to find a school he likes that is interested in him as well," Reynolds said of the 6-foot-4, 325-pound two-way tackle.
Brewer's current list includes Austin Peay, Tuskeegee and Tusculum. Bailey is being courted by Cumberlands while Harden has received interest from Davidson, VMI and Birmingham-Southern.
"Rance has really good grades. In fact, he's currently No. 1 in his class," Reynolds said.
Tennessee's 24-20 win last season gives the Volunteer State a 4-1 lead in the series.
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 ...