Boyd-Buchanan quarterback Jim Cardwell has added another talent to his repertoire. In addition to punting, passing, kicking, running and tackling, the Buccaneers senior can now be called snake-handler.
There was a snake in the grass Friday at Boyd-Buchanan and, no, it wasn't wearing stripes.
It was really a snake, a live one.
Don't know if they showed it on TV but the snake slithered onto the field and the game was held up until the snake was dispatched by Cardwell.
I've never seen so many South Pittsburg youngsters -- you think of them as country boys -- so skittish. The snake was about a foot long, maybe less and probably harmless, especially after it met up with Cardwell's helmet. The referee didn't want to touch it and asked Bucs coach Grant Reynolds to get it off the field, to which the Reynolds, obviously no avid outdoorsman, replied, "No way."
Somebody from the chain crew finally came and got it.
But here's the best part of the story.
The snake was on Boyd-Buchanan's side of the ball and, given the way the game was going, Boyd-Buchanan wasn't bubbling over with Pirate fever. So one of the Buccaneers defenders (do I dare mention his name, Jack?) kicked it over on the South Pittsburg side. From the reaction I thought somebody had disturbed a yellow jacket's nest.
Maybe that's why South Pitt scored 19 fourth-quarter points -- you know, in retaliation for the snake-kick from one side of the ball to the other.
It's the stuff of which legends are made and rivalries rekindled.
Now you just have to wonder if Silverdale will be armed with snake repellent when the Seahawks come calling on Nov. 1 with the District 5-A championship likely on the line.
Could another snake show up? Sure. Remember, the conservationists got that swamp beyond Boyd-Buchanan's fields designated a wildlife area. They even hampered Boyd-Buchanan's desire to do something about the area's beavers, despite their dam-building that caused such a water issue for the school.
• There are some really good football players in Chattanooga but some of them, especially some of the guys that are in the limelight, need to learn some manners. Some folks, especially some of my peers, the guys that remind me constantly how long I've been around, will tell you I'm old school. Bear Bryant used to tell his players to act like they'd been there before when they made a big play or won a big game. There are coaches in town that still teach it.
I have been disgusted; especially the last couple of weeks, with the "look at me" actions I have witnessed, and I saw open taunting last week. There are times that 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalties just aren't enough, and it's a shame that a quality team and a well-known football community have their reputations sullied by the actions of a couple of obviously misguided players.
As one old coaching pal often said, "This ain't the NFL and you ain't getting paid so save you're showing off for your momma."
Suffice it to say that at least two players have been scratched from my Best of Preps nomination list because of their classless antics.
• There's a new single-game rushing leader for the season. Will Slack gained 328 yards Friday in Grace Academy's lopsided (61-7) win over Sale Creek. Too, Whitwell's Clay McHone moved into the top five with a 246-yard performance against Clay County. He scored five TDs.
There are three backs with two 200-yard performances: Marion's Blake Zeman (311, 229), Ooltewah's Desmond Pittman (264, 222) and South Pittsburg's Jajuan Lankford (216, 206).
Pittman has sat out the last two games with a knee sprain.
• Ooltewah's Brody Binder broke the top five-spot passing stranglehold of Cleveland's Austin Herink and East Hamilton's Hunter Moore. Herink still holds the season's best passing effort with 478 yards but Binder threw for 370 Friday night.
Moore has three of the top six efforts.
• East Hamilton's Tony Francois had two of the top three outings among receivers with a season's best 286 against Walker Valley. He also has the third best effort with 170 against McMinn County.
The only other player with two top 10 performances is Ooltewah's Anthony Turner with 168 against Walker Valley and 163 vs. Siegel.
• To briefly update the district playoff picture that ran in Friday's Times Free Press (district wins and losses and district opponents yet to play), here's a quick look (my opinion) at likely playoff participants:
5-AAA: Ooltewah and East Hamilton in barring collapses; Cleveland on the bubble; Bradley Central holding on with fingers crossed.
6-AAA: Rhea County in and likely to host; Cookeville/White County winner (Nov. 1) in with loser definitely on bubble along with Stone Memorial.
7-AA: With apologies to Sequatchie County, Signal Mountain's in and should host at least one; Sequatchie, 4-3 overall, is still unbeaten in 7-AA but plays Notre Dame this week and Signal the last week of the season. More than three getting in? Doubtful. If someone does it will be with either a 5-5 or 4-6 record.
6-AA: Big game this week with current leader Hixson hosting wanna-be Red Bank. A Hixson win all but locks up championship and would likely eliminate Red Bank from playoff picture. East Ridge remains a bubble team and Tyner could back into the playoffs by winning out.
5-AA: Polk is in; Sequoyah will make it. Sweetwater might and it'll be a shame if McMinn Central is overlooked.
6-A: Marion, South Pittsburg in; currently 3-5, Whitwell is a definite maybe.
5-A: District title to be decided on Nov. 1 (Silverdale at Boyd-Buchanan) but Silverdale is a lock. Boyd-Buchanan is another "maybe" but could cement its spot by beating the Seahawks.
Keep in mind that the DI playoffs are six classifications. It can be confusing because Class 5A and Class 6A teams play in the same district as do Class 3A and Class 4A teams and Class 1A and 2A teams. For example, District 5-AAA members Bradley Central, McMinn County and Walker Valley would be considered for the 6A playoffs and Cleveland, East Hamilton and Ooltewah for the 5A postseason.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
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 ...