A final goodbye

After 12 years of working at the News Sentinel, I said my final goodbyes today.
I will be journeying into the world of sales and working full time for Playrite.com
I’ll still be around from time to time. I’ll cover games on Friday nights, make some predictions and do some TV/radio work on the side. So I won’t be completely gone.
Still, I’ve been able to tell a lot of great stories through the years. And I don’t want that to quit appearing in the papers. So in the meantime, while the KNS is hiring a new preps editor, make sure you send those potentially great stories to the sports department at Sports@KnoxNews.com so they can have someone write those.

Thanks to all who helped me along the way, allowed me to peek into their lives for a story or simply gave me a heads up on a story.

Here’s a treat on my way out …
Here are my top 5 preps memories from covering this beat:
1. Maryville football won 74 consecutive games from the start of the 2004 season until losing to Hillsboro in the 2008 Class 4A final.
2. The 2010 Class AAA state baseball championship. Nicky Delmonico hit a walk-off home run to win the game, redeeming himself for a costly error he had made earlier in the night. LHP Philip Pfeifer was untouchable all season (16-0, 165Ks in 96 IP) and threw a one-hit, 14-strikeout masterpiece — working a complete game that featured a 2-hour-long rain delay and working one day after serving as a closer in the semifinal.
3. Jalen Steele’s buzzer beater to beat Bolivar in the 2009 Class AA state semifinals. Steele, who went on to win a Mr. Basketball and two PrepXtra POYs, had struggled mightily in the first half. The Falcons were defending state champions and on the ropes against Bolivar. Steele got the ball in the final seconds, looked at his defender and smile … HE SMILED AT HIM!! … then slashed into the lane and made the game-winner. Fulton defended as state champions.
4. Ryan Click’s Shot. Then a little-used sophomore guard, Click hit a 3-pointer in double overtime to lift Maryville to the 2007 Class AAA state boys basketball championship, 69-66. I barely got my story in before the deadline, and the entire Sunday paper couldn’t get sent out until that game ended. Had Click not hit that shot, I would’ve been late. He was the third or fourth option on the play and hadn’t scored a point the entire tournament.
5. Alcoa vs. CAK. Watching this rivalry evolve was no doubt fun. I can remember loaded Alcoa teams blasting CAK out of the water in the early-to-mid 2000s. Then those margins of victories got closer and closer and closer. Alcoa won seven consecutive state titles until CAK ended that reign with 3A titles of its own in 2011-2012. Alcoa resumed supremacy last year. But still, the players that came through each program will not be forgotten. Neither will their battles.

MORE: Fulton football (2013) was ridiculously good with Daryl Rollins-Davis, Xavier Howard and Penny Smith on offense and set a state scoring record… Jackie Coward (West) was hands down the best track athlete I saw … Wil Crowe (Pigeon Forge) dominated the 2013 season and state baseball tournament to give Pigeon Forge its first Class AA state title … Bryce Brentz (South-Doyle) had a monster postseason as a senior in 2007 and helped S-D finish state runner-up … Fulton vs. Catholic football (Dennis Rogan vs. Harrison Smith) … Gibbs softball … The Glory Johnson years with Webb School of Knoxville girls basketball … Andre Sterling’s 2007 running back campaign at Farragut … Charlie High + receivers Josh Smith and Davis Howell in 2011-12 … Dre Mathieu went from 5-foot-nothing PG at Central to starting point guard at Minnesota … Dwight Tarwater’s senior season at Webb won him a Mr. Basketball trophy in 2010 … Cait McMahan’s ACL injuries killed a promising basketball career at Tennessee … Jill Prudden’s coaching in the Oak Ridge women’s basketball program … McMinn Central girls’ basketball … Bearden boys basketball nearly knocking off national power Oak Hill Academy in 2009 … Ty Greene and Rico White lead Bearden boys’ basketball to the Class AAA state final in 2011… Gibbs winning a state baseball championship in 2010.

I could keep going and going.

– Jesse Smithey

State HS Football Rankings (Sept. 2)

Associated Press State Rankings
Sept. 2
Class 6A
1. Maryville (13) 2-0
2. Blackman (3) 2-0
3. Oakland 1-1
4. Whitehaven 2-0
5. Science Hill 1-0
6. Hendersonville 2-0
7. Sevier County 1-0
8. Dobyns-Bennett 2-0
9. Riverdale 2-0
10. Ravenwood 2-0

Class 5A
1. West (9) 2-0
2. Henry County (1) 1-1
3. Ridgeway (3) 1-0
4. Memphis East 2-0
5. Anderson County 2-0
6. Hillsboro 2-0
7. Ooltewah 2-0
8. Campbell County 2-0
9. Tennessee 1-0
10. South-Doyle 1-0

Class 4A
1. Fulton (13) 2-0
2. Catholic 2-0
3. Giles County (1) 2-0
4. Liberty 1-1
5. Pearl-Cohn 2-0
6. Greeneville 0-1
7. Trezevant 1-1
7. Signal Mountain 2-0
9. Crockett County 2-0
9. Sullivan South 1-1

Class 3A
1. Alcoa (14) 2-1
2. CPA 2-0
3. CAK 2-0
4. Camden 2-0
5. East Nashville 2-0
6. Lewis County 2-0
7. Notre Dame 1-1
8. Milan 2-0
9. Fairview 1-1
10. Westview 2-0

Class 2A
1. Grace Christian (2) 2-0
2. Adamsville (3) 2-0
3. Trousdale County (2) 1-1
4. TCA (2) 1-1
5. Huntingdon (1) 1-1
6. Peabody (1) 2-0
7. Marion County 2-0
8. Mitchell (1) 0-2
9. Rockwood 2-0
10. Hampton 1-1

Class 1A
1. Union City (11) 2-0
2. Nashville Christian 2-0
3. Greenback (1) 2-0
4. Cloudland 2-0
5. Coalfield 1-1
6. Moore County 2-0
7. Wayne County 1-1
8. South Pittsburg 0-2
8. Columbia Academy 1-0
10. Gordonsville 1-1

Division II
1. Ensworth (8) 2-0
2. Brentwood Academy 2-0
3. MBA (1) 2-0
4. McCallie 2-0
5. MUS 1-1
6. Baylor 2-0
7. Webb (1) 0-2
8. Father Ryan 2-0
9. St. George’s 1-1
10. BGA 1-1

Week 1: Game to See


ALCOA (2-0) at MARYVILLE (1-0)
Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m. (WVLT, Pregame: 7 p.m.)
History: Maryville and Alcoa have combined for 27 state championships. Maryville has a TSSAA-best 14 all-time. Alcoa ranks second at 13. Maryville holds a 59-23-3 record against Alcoa and has won the last three meetings. The average margin of victory the last five meetings has been 15.0 points per game. Alcoa won the 2009-10 meetings.
On the line: Maryville carries a 16-game win streak into the contest. Alcoa has won its last 15 games.
Last time: Maryville shut down Alcoa on the Tornadoes’ home field, 31-2. John Garrett, then a senior and making just his second start under center, threw for 163 yards and two scores and rushed for 55 yards and a touchdown to lead the Rebels. He went on to earn All-State and All-PrepXtra honors. Maryville finished 15-0 last season with a Class 6A state title. Alcoa went 14-1 and took Class 3A. It marked the eighth time the Blount County powers won a state championship in the same season.
Coaches: Alcoa coach Gary Rankin (358-68, .840 winning percentage) has won 10 state championships (six at Alcoa, four at Riverdale). He is 10 wins shy of tying Ken Netherland (St. George’s Independent School) for the all-time record in TSSAA coaching wins. Maryville coach George Quarles (209-14, .937 winning percentage) has won 10 titles in 15 previous seasons with the Rebels.
Player Watch
Alcoa – Jaquez Tyson, a 5-10, 210-pound, leg-strong running back, rushed 49 times in last season’s Class 3A championship. He has 25 carries through two games this fall for roughly 260 yards and four touchdowns.
Maryville – Dylan Jackson, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound senior defensive end, was a Mr. Football Lineman finalist last season. A Tennessee verbal commitment, Jackson also received scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Stanford, LSU, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and Duke.

Week 1: PrepXtra Top 20


The Top 10
1. Maryville (1-0): The Rebels are 14-time state champions and take on arch-rival and 13-time state champion Alcoa at 7:30 p.m. Friday on a special broadcast of Rivalry Thursday, which will be on WVLT.
2. Alcoa (2-0): The Tornadoes successfully navigated a two-games-in-three-days gamble last week. Alcoa plays at Maryville on Friday. Alcoa has lost the last three in the series.
3. West (1-0): West won their opener 39-0 last week with Karns. The Rebels get the week off before trying to end Maryville’s 92-game league win streak that dates back to 2000.
4. Fulton (1-0): The Falcons won last week, 83-3… Proceed to No. 5 Catholic.
5. Catholic (1-0): The Fighting Irish welcome Coalfield (1-0) on Friday, seeking a fifth consecutive 2-0 start.
6. South-Doyle (0-0): The much-anticipated season debut for the Cherokees comes Friday at much-improved Heritage.
7. Oak Ridge (0-0): The Wildcats play host to a win-hungry Farragut squad on Friday. The Admirals won last year’s meeting, 31-24.
8. Anderson County (1-0): Matt Fox ran for more than 2,400 yards as a junior. He kicked off his senior season last week with 247 yards and three scores.
9. Campbell County (1-0): Ethan Jeffers threw for more than 300 yards and six touchdowns in the first half last week. The Cougars should get another win Friday (Lynn Camp, Ky.) before entering a grueling District 3-AAA march.
10. CAK (1-0): Michael Thompson (nine carries, 110 yards, three TDs) and Austin Pope (12 catches, 117 yards, two TDs) made for a successful opening win over FRA. CAK plays at Powell on Friday.

11. Sevier County (1-0): The Smoky Bears open District 2-AAA play Friday against visiting Morristown East. Sevier County is 34-1, all time, in the IMAC. Its last league loss was 2010 (Jefferson County).
12. Webb (0-1): Webb dropped its fourth consecutive season opener last week, losing in Maryville 28-7. Webb plays Friday at Chattanooga Baylor, a 51-7 winner last week over Howard.
13. Greeneville (0-0): The Greene Devils, who went 12-1 last season, open their season Friday against No. 14 Morristown West. Greeneville won last year’s meeting 40-0 in Morristown.
14. Morristown West (1-0): Junior running back DeAndre Delaney scored four touchdowns Saturday in the Trojans’ 58-0 win over West Greene.
15. Farragut (0-1): Farragut let a lead slip away against Dobyns-Bennett, which knocked off Farragut for the fifth consecutive season.
16. Clinton (0-1): The Dragons fell to Anderson County in Week 0 by a 35-19 decision, their sixth consecutive loss in the series.
17. Gibbs (1-0): Brendan Wilson, a speedy slotback, will give opponents much to worry about when breaking down Gibbs film.
18. Pigeon Forge (1-0): The Tigers scored 71 points last week, their highest point total in program history.
19. Grace Christian (1-0): The Rams tacked on a score late to fend off Austin-East in Week 0, 14-0.
20. Loudon (1-0): Senior running back Josh Jackson rushed for well more than 200 yards in a 34-19 win over Class 6A William Blount.

Week 0: Game to See

Week 0: Clinton (0-0) at Anderson County (0-0)
Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $7
Last year: Clinton finished 4-6, losing three of their last four games to fall out of the Class 5A playoff picture. Meanwhile, Anderson County kicked off its season with a 53-13 win over Clinton, won 11 games and reached the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
This year: Clinton’s expectations are high, as the Dragons return 17 starters – including star junior quarterback Tyler Thackerson, who threw for more 2,700 yards last season. While the community has moaned the lineup loss of Lenoir City transfer Jaylond Woods (a Tennessee WR/DB commitment who was denied eligibility by the TSSAA), fans should be stoked about Florida transfer Cain Hammond, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound defensive tackle. Check out his Hudl film: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2596026/cain-hammond
Anderson County brings back 11 totals starters from last year’s successful campaign, none arguably bigger than 2,400-yard rusher Matthew Fox. But question marks rest on a new QB and just how effective this new offensive line can be. The Mavericks graduated four starting offensive lineman, including a standout in Matthew Pyke (ETSU). The new faces will have familiar surroundings in the early going to help them adjust, as AC will play its first four games at home.
Why watch this game: Well, first, the over/under might be triple digits. Secondly, some five or six teams in District 3-AAA have a legitimate chance at winning the league, and this is an opportunity for either Clinton or AC to maybe not get in the driver’s seat but, at least, get a hand on the steering wheel. The two programs are serious rivals and should make for an unbelievable Week 0 atmosphere – plus, Anderson County’s pregame fireworks show is like a mini-Boomsday. The uniforms will look great. Anderson County’s mid-field logo design is always a point of interest. Just go watch the game.
Other games to see: Gibbs at Carter (Rivalry Thursday, 7 p.m.), Webb at Maryville (Friday, 7:30), Dobyns-Bennett at Farragut (Friday, 7:30), FRA at CAK (Friday, 7:30), Powell at Fulton (Friday, 7:30).

2014 Jamboree Schedules


NOTE: Not all jamboree schedules are listed. Coaches or administrators may submit their jamboree schedules to SmitheyJ@KnoxNews.com.

Thursday, Aug. 14

Knoxville Orthopaedic Clinic KickOff Classic
At Central High, 7 p.m.

Kings Academy vs. TSD
Carter vs. Campbell County
Gibbs vs. West
Webb vs. Central
Fulton vs. Hardin Valley

Friday, Aug. 15

Knoxville Orthopaedic Clinic KickOff Classic
At Bearden High, 7 p.m.

Austin-East vs. Halls
South-Doyle vs. Catholic
Lenoir City vs. Karns
Powell vs. Bearden
Farragut vs. Anderson County

Maryville Orthopaedic Clinic Blount County Jamboree
At William Blount, 7 p.m.

Quarter 1 – Alcoa vs. Heritage
2 – skills contest
3 – Greenback vs. William Blount
4 – Maryville vs. William Blount

The Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinic Jamboree sponsored by Dr. Randy Robbins
At Clinton, 7 p.m.

Quarter 1 – Catholic vs. Cumberland County
2 – Catholic vs. Cumberland County
Halftime – skills competition
3 – Grace Christian vs. Clinton
4 – Grace Christian vs. Clinton

IMAC Jamboree
At Burke-Toney Stadium, Morristown
6 p.m.

Quarter 1 – Freshmen: Morristown West vs. Cocke County
2 – Morristown West vs. Cocke County
Halftime Skills Competitions
3 – Freshmen: Morristown East vs. Cherokee
4 – Freshmen: Morristown East vs. Jefferson County
5 – Morristown East vs. Cherokee
6 – Morristown East vs. Jefferson County

Sevier County Jamboree
At Sevier County High
7 p.m. start

Quarter 0 – Freshmen: Sevier County vs. Seymour
1 – Freshmen: Gatlinburg-Pittman vs. Northview
2 – JV: Pigeon Forge vs. Northview
3 – JV: Gatlinburg Pittman vs. Seymour
4 – JV: Sevier County vs. Pigeon Forge
Halftime Competitions
5 – Gatlinburg Pittman vs. Seymour
6 – Sevier County vs. Pigeon Forge

Advocate and Democrat Gridiron Clash
at Sweetwater, 6 p.m.

**Youth league games until halftime**
Meigs County vs. Athens
Madisonville vs. Englewood
Riceville vs. McMinn Central
Tellico vs. Vonore
Polk County vs. Sweetwater
Halftime Skills
8:10 p.m. – High School varsity jamborees
Meigs County vs. Polk County
Tellico Plains vs. McMinn Central
Sequoyah vs. Sweetwater

HS Football Scrimmages Schedule


Here are some upcoming area high school football scrimmages FOR FRIDAY, AUG. 8 (unless otherwise noted).
BEWARE: Some charge to watch. Some don’t.
Either way, it’s live football. And you didn’t have that two months ago. Enjoy it.

Alcoa – vs. Farragut (6 p.m.)
Anderson County – off (Aug. 13 at Hardin Valley, 6 p.m.)
Austin-East – off (Aug. 12 at Webb, 6 p.m.)
Bearden – at South-Doyle (7 p.m.)
CAK – at Campbell County (THURSDAY, Aug. 7 at 6 p.m.)
Campbell County – vs. CAK (THURSDAY, Aug. 7 at 6 p.m.)
Carter – vs. Jefferson County (5 p.m.)
Catholic – off (next scrimmage will be jamboree)
Central – at Morristown West (6 p.m.)
Claiborne – vs. Jellico (6 p.m.)
Clinton – vs. Hardin Valley (THURSDAY, Aug. 7, 6 p.m.)
Coalfield –
Cocke County – at Halls (6 p.m.)
Cosby – at Cumberland Gap (6 p.m.)
Cumberland Gap – vs. Cosby (6 p.m.)
Farragut – at Alcoa (6 p.m.)
Fulton – off (next: Aug. 12, 6 p.m., vs. Campbell County)
Gatlinburg-Pittman – vs. Ooltewah, 5 p.m.
Gibbs – vs. Sequoyah (6 p.m.)
Grace Christian – vs. Tyner (7:30)
Grainger – vs. South Greene (6 p.m.)
Greenback – vs. Polk County (5:30)
Greeneville – vs. Tennessee High (6:30)
Halls – vs. Cocke County (6 p.m.)
Hardin Valley – at Clinton (THURSDAY, Aug. 7, 6 p.m.)
Harriman –
Heritage – vs. Morristown East (6 p.m.)
Jefferson County – at Carter (5 p.m.)
Jellico – at Claiborne (6 p.m.)
Karns – at Lenoir City (THURSDAY, Aug. 7, at 6 p.m.)
King’s Academy – off (next: TriCities Christian at TKA, Aug. 12, 6 p.m.)
Kingston – at York (6:30)
Lenoir City – vs. Karns (THURSDAY, Aug. 7, at 6 p.m.)
Loudon – at McMinn County (6 p.m.)
Maryville – at Oak Ridge (7 p.m.)
McMinn Central – at Sequatchie County (6 p.m. CENTRAL)
McMinn County – vs. Red Bank/Loudon (5:30 p.m.)
Midway – vs. Wartburg
Morristown East – at Heritage (6 p.m.)
Morristown West – vs. Central (6 p.m.)
Oakdale – vs. Stone Memorial (7 p.m.)
Oak Ridge – vs. Maryville (7 p.m.)
Oliver Springs – vs. Sweetwater (6 p.m.)
Oneida –
Pigeon Forge – off (Next: Aug. 12 at Heritage, 7:30)
Powell – off (next: Aug. 12 vs. Sequoyah)
Rockwood – vs. Sunbright (6:30)
Scott – at Stone Memoiral (5:30)
Sequoyah – at Gibbs (6 p.m.)
Sevier County – vs. West (5:30)
Seymour –
South-Doyle – vs. Bearden (7 p.m.)
Sunbright – at Rockwood (6:30)
Sweetater – at Oliver Springs (6 p.m.)
Tellico Plains – at Chattanooga Grace (6 p.m.)
Union County –
Wartburg – at Midway
Webb – vs. Bradley Central (THURSDAY, Aug. 7, 6:30)
West – at Sevier County (5:30)
William Blount – vs. Walker Valley (6 p.m.)

Best Baby Name Ever? Gets My Vote

Bearden High School teacher and tennis coach Tyler Lane and his wife Katie had their first child Sunday, and their 6-pound, 3-ounce baby girl might have the best name ever.
Magnolia Reynolds Lane.
Yep, take out the middle name and it’s a clear reference to the greatest drive in all of golf — arguably all of sports.
Magnolia Lane is the road that leads to the Augusta National clubhouse.
Tyler Lane, an accomplished golfer and the two-time Greater Knoxville Amateur champion (2013-14), said this was no coincidence.
“There’s a little Masters reference there,” he told the News Sentinel on July 20 after repeating as GKA champion.
Lane’s daughter will be called Maggie.
According to his tweet today, Maggie and her mommy are doing just great.

Four Streaks To Monitor This Fall

As we research and gather materials and information to put out our preseason publications in mid-August, I figured I’d share some of it as we go along.
Here are a few streaks we’ll be monitoring this fall to see if they extend or end.

4. Sevier County enters the fall with a 27-game win streak in District 2-AAA play. The Smoky Bears are 34-1 in league play since joining District 2-AAA (or the IMAC, as it also known) in 2009. Jefferson County dealt them their lone loss, a 28-14 decision on Sept. 3, 2010. Sevier County won their final six district games of that season and have since reeled off three consecutive 7-0 marks in the IMAC. Morristown East will be Sevier County’s first District 2-AAA opponent this season — Sept. 5 at Sevier County.

3. William Blount has beaten Blount County rival Heritage 17 consecutive times. The Mountaineers last beat William Blount in 1996 by a 6-3 score. GET THIS: Heritage has beaten Maryville more recently (2000) than it has beaten William Blount. Could Heritage be closing the gap? After losing to the Governors 13-2 in 2012, it only lost last season, 7-0.

2. Fulton, the two-time defending Class 4A state champion, strolls into the 2014 season with an area-best, 21-game win streak. Fulton last lost on Oct. 12, 2012, to Alcoa by a 30-7 margin. Fulton opens this season with four consecutive home games: Hardin Valley, Powell, Bearden and Austin-East.

1. When you talk streaks, you talk Maryville. The Rebels have won 92 consecutive district/region games and 13 consecutive district/region championships. Their last league loss was to Halls in 2000 when both were members of Region 3-4A. Maryville’s opening District 4-AAA opponent game this fall will be a “Rivalry Thursday” contest on Sept. 4 at West — last year’s Class 5A state runner-up.

The 5 Most Under-Rated Football Coaches in PrepXtra

There are more than 60 football programs in the PrepXtra coverage area. Here are five coaches that you don’t talk about much, but should.

5. John Webb, Rockwood
Webb has brought continuity, stability and a winning culture to the Rockwood program. He has maintained its Wing-T roots and grown them into a perennial playoff participant. Rockwood has made 11 playoff appearances (five consecutive) under Webb and had an 11-win season and run to the state semifinals in 2009. The Tigers won 11 games in 2004 and are 113-88 in 18 seasons with him at the helm. Player defections to private schools in recent seasons have diminished the promise that some Rockwood teams might have held, but Webb forged winning campaigns all the same.

4. Jeff Harig, Loudon
Harig has a temperament made for being a head coach, a voice for pregame locker room speeches and a football acumen that ranks right up there with the best. And, he looks like he could still suit up and play any skill position on the field. He’s energetic, super passionate about his craft and still has the desire to get the best out of Loudon, whether it’s a great year for personnel on the roster or not. Harig is 77-58 going into his 13th season. That win total could be higher (and playoff runs longer) had he not coached during an era when Alcoa and CAK were on up-cycles in their program histories (think Phil Mickelson during Tiger’s prime).

3. Tony Lambert, Oneida
Known for his great defensive mind and a Southern drawl that will linger in your ears for hours, Lambert is a proven winner. He did it at Oneida with a 20-6 mark during the 2007-08 seasons. He led Scott to the playoffs in 2011. He is 18-5 at Oneida since his return to the Indians’ sideline in 2012. Lambert brings an unwavering faith and level of leadership to a locker room, and he’s a easy favorite in the coaching fraternity.

2. Brad Conley, Gibbs
From 2001-07, Gibbs won a total of 19 games and made two playoff appearances (with 3-7 regular-season records). Conley took over the Eagles in 2008 and has won 37 games in six seasons with six playoff appearances — including an 11-2 season in 2010 that featured a trip to the 4A state quarterfinals. Conley brings passion and a great father-figure presence to the program. And in a day and age when option, run-first offenses are seen as antiquated and stale, Conley makes it cool, appealing and effective.

1. Caine Ballard, Greeneville
Ballard jumped off the Maryville coaching tree, landed on both feet and then built a championship-caliber program 80 minutes East of Knoxville. Unfortunately, that locale doesn’t receive the lion’s share of attention. Still, all Ballard has done is win 87.1 percent of his games with the Greene Devils, win consecutive 4A titles in 2010-11 and finish runner-up in 2009. Yet when it comes to talking about the state’s elite coaches or when it comes to prime coaching searches within the Tennessee borders, Ballard’s name doesn’t come up as frequently as it should.