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