Next Friday night, Rutherford County will christen its latest high school football program.
The Stewarts Creek football era will officially start. However, it will come at a cost for four prep football programs in the county that makes up District 7-AAA.
Blackman, La Vergne and Smyrna had players leave their school due to rezoning to Stewarts Creek. Most admit the opening won’t have a large immediate impact.
However Riverdale, which had 300 students rezoned to Blackman as part of the Stewarts Creek zoning, may see a more immediate impact.
“This year it will impact more of the freshman teams than the varsity,” Blackman coach Philip Shadowens said. “Two years down the road, though, that depth will be down.
“They took some quality players that will develop even more. That will definitely have an affect in some way. I think we lost more kids than anybody.”
Riverdale’s roster is down to a little more than 60 players.
“I think everybody’s numbers are in the 100s except for ours,” Riverdale coach Ron Aydelott said.
The past two Riverdale freshman teams placed second in the league. However, a significant portion of those players were rezoned unless they were grandfathered in and chose to remain at Riverdale.
Riverdale’s enrollment this week was 1,921, according to Rutherford County school spokesman James Evans. That is down 21 from a year ago.
Blackman, which had the largest enrollment in the state a year ago at 2,356, is at 1,965. La Vergne was at 1,726, down from 2,094 last year. And Smyrna opened this year with 1,756 students, down 183 from last year.
Smyrna coach Matt Williams acknowledged that Stewarts Creek’s opening eventually could affect the program.
Part of Stewarts Creek’s zone includes the Seven Oaks subdivision in Smyrna. The county considered keeping that area in Smyrna’s zone before shifting it late in the rezoning process.
“Probably down the road it will affect us,” Williams said. “We’ve had some players come from that area.”
Williams said his concern with Smyrna is that the Smyrna High zone is “landlocked.”
“There is not much room to grow,” he said. “Stewarts Creek has room to grow by the Williamson County line. We don’t have that kind of area.”
Stewarts Creek’s enrollment was 1,384 earlier this week. But Evans said school enrollments tend to move early in the school year.
“It may affect numbers for a year, but it won’t be long term with the way this county is growing again,” Shadowens said. “We needed another school built.”
Oakland coach Thomas McDaniel said he is not alarmed by the new school opening. Eleven years ago, Siegel opened. Fourteen years ago, Blackman opened.
The county has continued to produce high-caliber football.
“It will be the same impact that Blackman did in 2000 and Siegel did when it opened,” McDaniel said. “This district will keep rolling on. The academics in the school system is too good. It’s a great place to live.
“I don’t foresee that big of a change.”