Rutherford County remains well respected across the state in regard to high school football.
District 7-AAA placed four teams in the Class 6A preseason coaches poll released recently in Murphy Fair’s 2013 high school football preseason magazine.
All four, though, are chasing last year’s state finalists.
Oakland was the highest-ranked local team. With five players already with college football offers, the Patriots are ranked third in the 6A poll. Teams within District 7-AAA also think highly of the Patriots. They have picked Oakland to become the fifth different team to win the league since it was created in 2009.
“I guess the polls are based on the talent you have returning,” Oakland coach Thomas McDaniel said. “People are very impressed with what we’ve got coming back.
“For me, it’s a moot point. I’m not worried about it. You’ve got to have polls. People do the polls for the fans and the media.”
Oakland is coming off back-to-back 6-5 seasons and have been eliminated in the first round of the 6A playoffs the past three seasons. However, the Patriots return nine on offense and eight on defense from 2012.
Oakland placed four on Fair’s preseason all-state team. Offensive linemen Jack Jones, a Tennessee commitment, and Caleb Yates were chosen on offense. Vanderbilt commitment Emmanuel Smith and defensive lineman Austin Barrett also were named to the all-state team.
Despite several big graduation hits, Riverdale is ranked fourth in the statewide poll. Both Oakland and Riverdale received one first-place vote in the coaches poll. Four-year starter Mariko Odom was chosen on the all-state team as a defensive back.
Siegel is ranked fifth and Blackman is sixth. Siegel’s ranking came after the Stars reached the Class 6A state semifinals for the first time in school history. Siegel running back Denzel Harding and kicker Harrison Reed were named to the all-state team. Blackman senior Antonio Allen, who was the 7-AAA Defensive MVP in 2012, was named to the all-state team at linebacker.
Smyrna also received votes for the top 10.
The District 7-AAA coaches selected Oakland to win the district, followed by Blackman, Siegel, Riverdale, Smyrna, La Vergne and first-year Stewarts Creek.
Maryville is the preseason favorite after receiving 26 of the 36 first-place votes. Whitehaven, which edged Maryville 36-35 in last year’s Class 6A BlueCross Bowl, received eight first-place votes.
There was a discrepency in the Class 1A and 2A polls. Eagleville, which has had back-to-back Class 1A quarterfinal appearances, received votes in the 2A poll and the 1A poll. The Eagles bumped up in classification to 2A prior to this season.
Coaches in District 9-A have picked Eagleville to win the league followed by Moore County, Forrest, Fayetteville, Huntland, Community and Middle Tennessee Christian School.