Fairview’s 2014 season got off to a rocky start when quarterback Hunter Zimmerman broke his left thumb during a scrimmage against Columbia Academy last week.
He passed for 2,102 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, helping the Yellow Jackets (11-2) make it to the Class 3A quarterfinals.
“He’s probably the best talent in our district,” Fairview coach Chris Hughes said. “He is kind of the centerpiece of our offense, so without him we are not going to be the same team. It makes me sick at my stomach, to be honest with you.”
Zimmerman returns to his doctor on the morning of Aug. 22 to see how his thumb is healing. Later that day Fairview opens the season against Cheatham County.
“Hopefully, I’ll get a foam cast, but if I do have to get another hard cast they’re just going to do it really thin so I’ll be able to play against Cheatham County,” Zimmerman said. “I’m not really too worried about it. If it hurts, I’m just going to play through it. My mind’s there and I’m ready to win.”
The 6-foot, 190-pound junior was bracing himself for a fall after being tackled when he injured his non-throwing thumb.
Zimmerman rushed for nearly 500 yards last season, but his production is likely to increase this year with more carries.
“I think he’s the best player in the district,” Lewis County coach Bobby Sharp said. “He’s pretty tough. Last year he could hurt you either way – pass or run. He is just so quick. His accuracy for a sophomore – unbelievable.”
Freshman Khristian Harris-Lusk is Zimmerman’s backup.
Hughes said Zimmerman will play against Cheatham County, but he may not be in the whole game. Taking snaps and making handoffs will be his biggest challenges.
“His football IQ is like that of no other person,” Hughes said. “I feel like I’ve got a coach on the field. He’s begging me to let him call the plays because he knows based on the defense what’s there and what’s not and he can make it happen.”
Fairview has a young team, but Zimmerman believes it would be a mistake to underestimate the Yellow Jackets.
“People think we’re going to have a rebuilding year, but that’s definitely not the case,” Zimmerman said. “We’re going to go out and win a lot of football games. I’m very excited to see how we do.”
Reach Chip Cirillo at 615-664-2194 or on Twitter @ChipCirillo.
Division I, Class AA at a glance
Best team: Livingston Academy should bounce back from last year’s 3-7 season.
Best player: Livingston Academy wide receiver Wade Eldridge (6-5, 235) caught 47 passes for 947 yards and 12 TDs last year.
Best game: The Livingston Academy-DeKalb County game on Sept. 5 could may determine the district’s early frontrunner.
Surprise team: Macon County should improve with freshman quarterback Seth Carlisle (6-0, 190), who has great potential.
Best team: White House will be trying to win its third straight district title.
Best player: Westmoreland running back/linebacker Brad Evans was the district MVP last year.
Best game: The White House-Westmoreland game on Oct. 17 could decide the district title.
Surprise team: An improved defense that is talented at the linebacker spot should help Sycamore climb out of last place in the district.
Best team: A potent offense should help Pearl-Cohn repeat as district champs.
Best player: Pearl-Cohn running back KeShawn Vaughn, who has 15 offers, rushed for 2,407 yards and 30 TDs last year.
Best game: Pearl-Cohn and East Nashville are circling Oct.17 on their calendars because it’s a showdown that may determine who finishes first in the district.
Surprise team: Running back Malakhi Moore and safety/receiver Robert Mitchell give second-year coach Rayna Stewart good building blocks as Whites Creek tries to end its 17-game losing streak.
Best team: A strong defense should vault Camden to the top of the district.
Best player: Fairview quarterback Hunter Zimmerman passed for 2,102 yards and 24 TDs last season.
Best game: The Camden-Fairview game on Aug. 29 will give the winner the early advantage in the district race.
Surprise team: Waverly’s defense should improve under first-year coach Matt McConnell, a former Brighton defensive coordinator who has high hopes for third-year starter Dalton Hughey at linebacker and Oakland transfer Jason Rodriguez at cornerback.
Best team: CPA is likely to continue the momentum of going 39-4 in the past three seasons, including a Class 3A runner-up showing in 2013.
Best player: Giles County cornerback Cameron Ordway, who has nine SEC offers, made 75 tackles and nine interceptions last year.
Best game: Class 3A powers CPA and Giles County clash on Sept. 5 in an early-season game that probably will put the winner in control of the district.
Surprise team: Spring Hill should improve in its second year under coach Tom Turchetta after going 1-9 with a young team last year.
– Chip Cirillo