Knox Catholic at Notre Dame
It’s a battle of the Fighting Irish as Knox Catholic will travel down I-75 to take on Notre Dame Friday night. Knox Catholic is looking for back to back wins over their Chattanooga cousins after defeating Notre Dame 22-13 last year. Senior quarterback Zac Jancek, son of University of Tennessee defensive coordinator John Jancek, will try to exploit the Irish defense with the help of sophomore running back Amari Rodgers. Notre Dame will counter with running back Josh Russell and University of Louisville wide receiver commit Kareem Orr. Expect the “Irish Bowl” to be decided between the Knoxville Catholic spread attack versus the stout Notre Dame defense.
Webb at Maryville
Maryville has been one of the most dominant programs in Tennessee, having compiled seven state championships in the last ten years and fourteen in the school’s history. Their record went unblemished last season, cruising past opponents by an average of 36 points per game. They also return their defensive specialist and 2015 UT commitment, Dylan Jackson. George Quarles, the country’s winningest high school football coach in the last decade, will have the Rebels primed and ready to continue that trend. They face a Webb team, who lost their best player, Todd Kelly Jr., to the Vols, but confident yet, coming off a state title of their own. The Rebels may be looking ahead to their big game next week against Alcoa, but Webb will have their eyes fixed on Week 0.
Powell at Fulton
Rarely will you ever see a more dominant of an offensive juggernaut than the Fulton Falcons of 2013. They pummeled opponents by an average of 48 points per game and winning the state championship with ease. The 2014 version of the Falcons have replaced several offensive positions, but still have the formula for a repeat. They face the Powell Panthers, who will be looking for redemption after laying a goose egg to the Falcons’ 46 points last season. The Panthers will fight, but Fulton will win handily.
Karns at West
West experienced a deflating end to their great season with a one-point loss in the state title game. But they’ve decided to use it as motivation for this upcoming season, spray painting the 28-27 final score on their practice field and in the locker room. They lose running back Nathan Cottrell to Georgia Tech, but the Rebels look to be a team on a mission in 2014. Mediocrity would be an understatement for how poorly Karns’ 2013 season went. They began their season last year against West and lost 65-7 on their way to a 1-9 overall record. This year’s result should be similar.
Sevier County at Bearden
Bearden took quite the blow right before the start of the season, losing 21-0 in the one-quarter jamboree on their home field. They have a tough opening game against Sevier County, whose only two losses of their 2013 season, came from their Achilles Heel Maryville. The last time the Bulldogs and The crowd will show up in numbers for the Bulldogs and Bears tangled, they combined for 89 points. Sevier County dropped 62 of those. The Bulldogs have a new coach in Morgan Shinliver, but this team’s lack of depth on the defensive line combined with Sevier County’s leadership across the board, returning 19 seniors, spells a win for the Bears.
FRA at CAK
CAK hopes to return to their winning ways this season after finishing a disappointing 6-7 last year. They gathered some momentum in the second half of the season, winning four of their last five. They face Franklin Road Academy, a school out of Nashville, who will look for a bit of redemption, losing to CAK at home 35-10 last season. The result this season should be closer, but look for CAK to get their season started on a good note.
Dobyns-Bennett at Farragut
Farragut has a new quarterback this season, Jacob Naumoff, but he isn’t new to facing a tough opponent. Last season, he got the nod against Maryville. They lost, but the experience was undoubtedly invaluable for the junior. The Admirals face Dobyns-Bennett out of Kingsport and look to avenge their one-point loss to the Indians from last year.
Clinton at Anderson County
Clinton was one win from the playoffs last season. That was on their minds for the entire offseason and have higher expectations for themselves than anyone else. Their junior quarterback, Tyler Thackerson, dictates the pace on offense. He compiled more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. Anderson County knows a little something about offense. They went 11-2 with their all-state running back Matthew Fox rushing for more than 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. They torched the Dragons last season 53-13, but Clinton will make a game of it this time around.
Loudon at William Blount
William Blount only had two wins last season, but one came as a result of a 40-7 beat down of Loudon. They caught Loudon off-guard, but that won’t happen against this year. With 18 starters returning, the Redskins’ have another year of experience under their belt and are an improved team on both ends. William Blount has missed the playoffs for the last six years, but hope to reverse that trend. This matchup will be much, much closer.