Since the TSSAA adopted a six-class playoff system in 2009, there has been a different team win District 7-AAA every year.
In 2013, most view Oakland to be the favorite to keep that trend.
Despite going 6-5 the past two seasons, the Patriots are the overwhelming pick to win District 7-AAA. It would be their first district title since the new system.
But don’t tell Oakland coach Thomas McDaniel his team is the favorite.
“We went 6-5 last year,” McDaniel said. “Last year we easily could had an 8-3 or 8-4 year. It was not. It was 6-5.”
Oakland was slammed with injuries throughout the season. Running back Fred Wade was lost for the season before the opening kickoff due to a knee injury. Linebacker Josh Smith missed the season with an injury. And there were plenty other injuries.
However, outside of a separated shoulder by Emmanuel Smith, the Patriots are healthy. This year’s team features five players with college football offers, including Austin Barrett, Jack Jones (UT commit), Emmanuel Smith (Vanderbilt commit), Josh Smith and Caleb Yates.
“On paper, if you look at all of their Division I prospects, they should be able to run rough shod through the district,” said Siegel coach Greg Wyant, whose team won the 2012 district title. “But that’s paper. That’s why you play games on Friday night.
“Tommy isn’t resting on his laurels. They are working hard. It’s hard when you go into a season with preseason expectations on you, especially what is on Oakland. That’s something you have to work on every day to make sure complacency doesn’t sit in.”
Blackman and Siegel are the likely 7-AAA candidates to dethrone Oakland.
Give the Blaze a slight now over the Stars — but barely.
Blackman’s secondary appears as good as it’s been since coach Philip Shadowens took over in 2009. The linebackers will also be looked to lead the defense.
“Every year there are two or three teams that are a touch better than the rest,” Shadowens said. “The good thing is anyone in our region can beat anyone in the region. That’s great high school football because it is so competitive.
“I think it will be a deal where I’m not sure if anyone will be undefeated because of the competitiveness of the league. At some point someone will separate from everyone.”
La Vergne, Riverdale and Smyrna will be vying for the fourth spot. Stewarts Creek enters its first year by being immediately thrown in 7-AAA varsity action. The Red Hawks will face a tall order in competing in the league with its youth.