(All kickoffs are 7:30 p.m. Eastern unless noted)
BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (2-0) at MONTGOMERY BELL ACADEMY BIG RED (2-0), 8
Storyline: Baylor will be without head coach Phil Massey for this one because of an ejection last week involving sideline violations and assistant coaches. MBA has yet to play on the road and has scored 79 points while giving up just 18. The Big Red's first task will be clamping down on RB George Porter, forcing Baylor to take further wraps off its passing game. MBA QB Cole Euverard, the coach's son, has attempted just 17 passes (three TDs) because of an efficient run game headed by him, Ty Chandler, Michael Lacy and Derrick Tusie.
BRAINERD PANTHERS (0-2) at RED BANK LIONS (0-2)
Storyline: Red Bank has not lost to Brainerd since the teams resumed their series in 2001, but both teams obviously are struggling, especially on defense. The Lions have given up 64; the Panthers, 57. Red Bank has shown more offensively behind QB Michael Robinson and RB Shawn Caldwell, averaging 24 points per game, and stopping Robinson and then his option pitch will be vital for Brainerd.
CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN CHARGERS (2-0) at NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (1-1)
Storyline: With starter Alex Darras out, Irish have been delighted with backup QB Clay Heltzel, coach Charles Fant saying, "He's doing a fantastic job." The guy who makes the Irish go, though, is versatile junior Kareem Orr, who's playing numerous positions in addition to returning punts and kickoffs. CCS, with its first 2-0 start, has been keyed by RB D.J. Toney and QB Jared Miller.
EAST RIDGE PIONEERS (0-2) at CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (1-1)
Storyline: It's been a disappointing start for East Ridge, which has mustered just 12 points and only one TD in two games. Central, which opened with a win, lost ace RB Terry Tiller in the first series of a loss last week to Polk County. Tiller is listed day-to-day and might show up at QB if he's able to play. Injuries have forced the Pioneers to shuffle both lines, and it's probable they'll start some freshmen this week. East Ridge has given up 42 points, but only 21 by the defense.
GRUNDY COUNTY YELLOW JACKETS (1-1) at SEQUATCHIE COUNTY INDIANS (1-0)
Storyline: The Indians have had two weeks to prepare for this one and were off last week while Grundy was rolling over Grace behind RB/LB Mike Nolan, who was the TFP player of the week after a 12-carry, 228-yard rushing outing. The Jackets will be in a spread while Sequatchie will show some semblance of an option offense directed by Dylan Harvey and keyed by Blake Cates. Grundy QB Houston Mainord has been overshadowed by Nolan but has a 61.2 completion rate and 467 yards.
OOLTEWAH OWLS (1-1) at SODDY-DAISY TROJANS (2-0)
Storyline: The records are surprising, especially Soddy-Daisy's start. New coach Justin Barnes will find out this week how good his team really is against the Owls, who scored 47 points last week but lost by 11. Ooltewah workhorse Desmond Pittman already has 336 rushing yards and a gaudy 8.6 yards per attempt. QB Brodie Binder has a 5-to-1 ratio of TDs to interceptions. Key figures for the Trojans thus far are Hunter Maynor, who has a ratio identical to Binder's and 486 passing yards with a 72.5 completion rate. He has used eight receivers, but the favorite has been Tre Carter (12 catches, 180 yards).
POPE JOHN PAUL II KNIGHTS (2-0) at McCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (2-0)
Storyline: This is the first time since 2005 that the Knights are unbeaten two games into the year. That season they went 7-4. However, McCallie, 2-0 for the first time since 2010, leads the series 4-0. McCallie has found first-year QB JaVaughn Craig to be a quality complement for RBs Alex Trotter, Andrew Busby and Tyler Payne.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES (1-1) at BLEDSOE COUNTY WARRIORS (1-1), 8
Storyline: Signal has showcased James McClellan (55 carries, 359 yards), but depth is not an issue and RBs are scrambling for playing time. Those include Hunter VanDyken, Diamez Franklin, Kaleb Menzel and Nathan Johnson. A Bledsoe key is Bradley Smith, who opened the year with a 158-yard rushing outing in a monsoon. The Warriors have a QB (Connor Boynton) who has slowly worked his way back into the lineup from an injury, especially in passing situations. The biggest problem for Bledsoe has been turnovers (seven), including a couple inside Marion County's 30 last week.
MARION COUNTY WARRIORS (2-0) at WHITWELL TIGERS (1-1), 8
Storyline: It might've been billed as a power vs. speed contest, but Marion is quite banged up already with at least five of its top six playmakers having missed time, including power back Blake Zeman. "I don't know which you'd call us because we have neither," Warriors coach Mac McCurry said. There also are injuries at Whitwell, including RB Dusty McHone. Whitwell already, though, has matched win totals accumulated in each of the last three seasons and has shown offensive know-how. This is a pair of old school, wing-T offenses.
SILVERDALE BAPTIST ACADEMY SEAHAWKS (2-0) at COPPER BASIN COUGARS (0-2)
Storyline: SBA coach Al Rogers seemed concerned at midweek about some of his players being overconfident. Copper Basin has been outscored 101-7 in its first two games. The Seahawks' key participants to date include RBs Josh Rogers and Matt Miller; OL Daniel Guinn, Ben Bower and Jonathan Sanders; and DB Hunter Arnold. The Cougars last opened a season 0-2 in 2008, and that streak reached four before they broke it.
GREENBACK CHEROKEES (1-1) at MEIGS COUNTY TIGERS (0-1)
Storyline: The Meigs offense was OK last week, scoring three TDs on passes by QB Bryson Baker, but the defense surrendered 52 points to Sweewater. They'll have to tighten up because Sweetwater lost in Week 1 to Greenback 41-14, a game in which RB Jordan Anderson rushed for 226 yards and four TDs. This is first of five straight road games for the Cherokees, who lost passing QB Dillan Jones with a torn ACL and replaced him with Sam McCloud.
CLEVELAND BLUE RAIDERS (1-1) at McMINN COUNTY CHEROKEES (1-1)
Storyline: Cleveland sends a high-powered offense against the Cherokees, who have won the last two meetings. McMinn's rushing attack, led by QB Corbin Powers and RB Dre Sanders, will look for holes against a Raiders defense that coach Ron Crawford feels has improved in effort and execution.
WHITE COUNTY WARRIORS (2-0) at RHEA COUNTY GOLDEN EAGLES (1-0)
Storyline: Two teams expected to compete for the 6-AAA crown battle tonight in Rhea's first game in its new district. The Golden Eagles' wing-T offense went wild last week in a 55-20 win over Coffee County, and led by RBs Dimitrius Patterson, Joby Berry and Jacob York, they're hoping for more of the same. The Warriors have their first 2-0 start in 20 seasons and, much like Rhea, will try to establish a running game behind RBs River Boruff and Blake Lynn.
EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES (2-0) at WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS (2-0)
Storyline: The tough season beginning continues for the Hurricanes, who already own a road win at Signal Mountain and snapped state-ranked Dobyns-Bennett's 34-game regular-season win streak last week. Now the Hurricanes travel again for their first District 5-AAA game against a young Mustangs team gaining confidence with each week. East Hamilton's offense is led by QB Hunter Moore and RB Matt Milita, while Vanderbilt commitment Tre Herndon is a playmaker at both WR and DB.
SOUTH PITTSBURG PIRATES (1-1) vs. SALE CREEK PANTHERS (0-2) at Finley Stadium
Storyline: The Pirates fell flat in their home opener last week, so expect an angry bunch to take the field against the first-year Panthers. This is the District 6-A opener for both, so South Pittsburg will look to ride the running of Kahlil Mitchell and Jajuan Lankford to take command early and allow younger players to get some game experience.
TYNER RAMS (0-1) at HIXSON WILDDCATS (1-1)
Storyline: This early-season clash is pivotal in the race for the District 6-AA title. Among Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald's concerns is the Rams' backs and how they can make something out of nothing. Hixson has to be able to tackle in space. Tyner coach Wayne Turner said slowing the Wildcats' running game is a top priority. The Rams also can't afford drive-hindering penalties like the ones that stalled some possessions last week.
FRANKLIN ROAD ACADEMY PANTHERS (1-1) at BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (1-1)
Storyline: FRA has a multiple-formation offense but basically likes to run the ball behind its veteran line. Among the linemen is college recruit Joe Irby (6-4, 315), who also plays nose tackle. Boyd-Buchanan coach Grant Reynolds is hoping to see his offensive linemen do a better job sustaining blocks so the Bucs can operate their option offense at peak efficiency. That would allow them to mix in a few timely passes.
GRACE ACADEMY GOLDEN EAGLES (0-2) at DAVIDSON ACADEMY WILDCATS (1-1)
Storyline: The Golden Eagles have been without four would-be starters in the first two games. One is strong safety and fullback Dequan Hughes, who's had a hamstring injury. He returned to practice this week and could see limited action tonight. Grace coach Bob Ateca said not allowing big openings in the line and tackling well will be points of emphasis against the Wildcats' precise offense.
SEQUOYAH CHIEFS (1-1) at McMINN CENTRAL CHARGERS (1-1)
Storyline: Each team has faced a Class AAA school and both led at halftime before losing. Depth should be more evenly matched in the District 5-AA opener for both teams. The Chiefs operate a balanced attack behind a huge offensive line. Rushing has been the Chargers' strength on offense, and they'll need to run well again. Otherwise they'll have to deal with Sequoyah's blitz packages designed to take offenses out of their comfort zone.
DALTON CATAMOUNTS (0-1) at CALHOUN YELLOW JACKETS (1-0)
Storyline: The latest edition of one of the area's most entertaining nonleague matchups finds the Catamounts trying to avoid an 0-2 start facing a Calhoun team coming off an attention-grabbing 37-0 win at Ridgeland. Can run-heavy Dalton find a way to move the ball against a defense that gave up just 59 total yards last week? The most interesting matchup might be Calhoun's talented receiving corps against a very good Dalton secondary.
HERITAGE GENERALS (0-1) at LAKEVIEW-FORT OGLETHORPE WARRIORS (0-1)
Storyline: This brief, but heated, Catoosa County rivalry pits two teams wanting to put week one behind them. Heritage showed some life early against Ringgold before the game got away late, while LFO was handled by Class A Gordon Lee. Neither offense is built for big plays, so the key will be which team can avoid drive-killing mistakes. New QBs Dylan Bice of Heritage and LFO's Sky Rogers need to make more plays.
LaFAYETTE RAMBLERS (0-0) at TRION BULLDOGS (1-0)
Storyline: Starting a week later than everyone else is a disadvantage for the Ramblers, who are debuting new coach Chad Fisher and his spread offense. Getting the kinks out will not be easy against a physical Trion defense led by LB Malik Martin. The Ramblers will have to win the battles at the line of scrimmage, where the strength of the Bulldogs lies.
GORDON CENTRAL WARRIORS (0-1) at SOUTHEAST WHITFIELD RAIDERS (1-0)
Storyline: Gordon Central had a rough debut a week ago in a lopsided loss to Class AA Coosa, managing just 136 total yards. Coach David Humphreys worked this week in practice on the basics of blocking and tackling, which were poor last week. Southeast, on the other hand, had no such troubles in a win at North Murray and again will rely on its huge offensive line to move the ball.
COAHULLA CREEK COLTS (1-0) at GORDON LEE TROJANS (1-0)
Storyline: What can Gordon Lee's Zach Cobb do this time? The senior rushed for 235 yards, scored two touchdowns on the ground and averaged 12.4 yard per carry last week in the Trojans' win at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe. Can the Colts chop those numbers in half and still have a chance?
DADE COUNTY WOLVERINES (0-1) at NORTH MURRAY MOUNTAINEERS (0-1)
Storyline: The Wolverines couldn't get out of their own way in a 19-13 loss to North Sand Mountain last week. The mistakes, such as unforced penalties and fourth-quarter fumbles, are correctable. But a total 143 offensive yards should be concerning for Dade County. The Mountaineers lost 35-12 to a bigger school, Southeast Whitfield, and should be more competitive this week.
SONORAVILLE PHOENIX (0-1) at GILMER COUNTY BOBCATS (1-0)
Storyline: The Phoenix were slapped in the face last week by Pickens County in a 47-0 defeat with a running clock late in the game. Sonoraville has plenty of players on its roster, but coach Roger Gentry needs players who can play. And he needs them to play well in the second week of the season to erase the potential of a one-win season like last year.
HEARD COUNTY BRAVES (0-1) at CHATTOOGA INDIANS (0-1)
Storyline: It's understandable to lose to a school from a bigger classification like the Indians did last week when they fell 48-12 to East Hall. Chattooga faces similar competition this week from the Braves, who play in Region 5-AA and absorbed a thumping last week against Callaway, which plays in 4-AAA. This time, for both teams, it's a fair fight.
CHRISTIAN HERITAGE LIONS (0-1) at MURRAY COUNTY INDIANS (0-1)
Storyline: Can Christian Heritage stop hurting itself? Five turnovers killed the team's chances last week in a loss at Model, offsetting a four-touchdown passing performance from Trevor Brown and 200 yards receiving and three scores from Nick Bartley. Murray, in its first game under coach Chad Brewer, lost for the 17th consecutive time last week, but showed a competitiveness it didn't last year. QB Justin Smith's play gives the Indians hope.
MADISON COUNTY TIGERS (1-0) at NORTH JACKSON CHIEFS (0-1), 8
Storyline: The young Chiefs are coming off a dismal start to the season in which they gained just 26 total yards in a shutout loss to Fort Payne. Meanwhile, the Tigers opened with an impressive win over East Limestone. The Chiefs have won 10 of the 11 meetings all-time, with the Tigers getting their first win in the series last year. The Chiefs will need QB C.J. Cobb to make some plays if they are to win their Region 7-4A opener.
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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