Recap of 17 Stop, Prep Football Tour

17 Schools, 14 Hours

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - by B.B. Branton

Starting at Soddy Daisy at 7:44 a.m. and leaving Silverdale 14 hours later ( 9:58 p.m.), the fifth annual prep football tour made whistle stops at 17 schools covering 220 miles.


The Chattanooga Jamboree is Aug. 15-16 at Finley Stadium and the season openers are Thurs. Aug. 21  - Cleveland vs. McCallie (Finley Stadium) and Grundy Co. at Marion Co.- while the vast majority of other games are Fri. Aug. 22.


7:44 a.m. Soddy Daisy (3-7, 0-6)  … 5-AAA

Second year coach Justin Barnes is in his office and players dress in pads and helmets in the adjacent locker room just a few minutes before the start of the first official day of football practice at 8 a.m.


Coach Barnes has a veteran quarterback in Hunter Maynor (Sr. 1,700 yards) and plenty of receivers led by Tre Carter (41 catches, 9 TDs) … team goals are to run the ball better this year and be more physical up front and have a two-platoon system on the offensive and defensive lines

 Varsity Roster: 75

 Best Athlete – Wide Receiver Trey Carter (Jr. 41 catches, 9 TDs)

Weight Room King: Tyler Sullivan (5-9 215 Sr.) hard worker … never misses a workout


Human Interest Story: Tyler Xavier ... injured his back last week and won’t play football again due to being diagnosed with leukemia in middle school … does plan to return to the team this season or next as team manager.


Season and Home Opener: Aug. 22 - Hixson


Murphy Fair’s Pick: 6th in 5-AAA


Notes: has Ooltewah and East Hamilton on the road … Trojans have won only three district games in last three years, but plenty of talented juniors and seniors to turn it around … plays 4 of first 6 at home … scrimmages Chattanoog Central Fri. Aug. 8 at 6 p.m.


8:16 a.m. Hixson (9-4, 5-1) … 6-AA


“You’ve got to be faster … you’ve got to get low to block … I need effort,” shouted one coach as players went through drills … “we have to be the most dominating force on the field” …  Dan Duff is back for second coaching stint with Wildcats … and he feels the team strength is up front on both sides of the ball

Varity Roster: 52

Best Athlete Jordan Johnson (Sr. 5-9, 180)   WR and DB


Weight Room King: strength coach Gary Murphy points to Elijah White, Garrett Wheeler, Brett Garden, Brody Gregory, Marshall Cooper


Human Interest Story:  Sr. QB Preston Wilkey “good leader and this is his time to show what he can do,” - Dan Duff


Season Opener: Aug. 22 at Soddy Daisy


Home Opener: Aug 29 South Pittsburg


Murphy Fair’s Pick:  3th in 6-AA


Notes: 3 of first 4 games away … district foes Tyner, East Ridge and Red Bank all on the road


9:09 a.m.  Red Bank (3-7, 3-3)… 6-AA


First year coach Chad Grabowski is excited about his senior class … “we have good leadership …. It’s the way they carry themselves and their attitude.” ….


Best Athlete: Malik Davis (Sr. 6-2, 180 … WR, DB)

Weight Room King: Trevor Skiles (Sr. 6-2, 295)

Human Interest Story: Eddie Gidden (Sr. FB, LB) … has own lawn service as he works weekends to help with family expenses


Season Opener: Aug 22 at Boyd Buchanan

Home Opener: Aug 29  Soddy Daisy


Murphy Fair’s Pick: 5th in 6-AA

Notes: tough opener at Boyd-Buchanan … has district foes Tyner, East Ridge and Hixson at home ... plays three of first four away


9:42 a.m. Boyd Buchanan (4-7, 3-0) … 5-A


Grant Reynolds has to replace all-state QB/Safety Jim Cardwell … looks to Jr. Cooper Hodge to lead the offense this fall… Ross Wotman and Kohl Henke can also take snaps .. Hanke will start at free safety as a freshman .. Austin Jackson and E.J Matthews will be expected to run the ball well … defense will be led by Eli Legg, Jake Harden and Jack Keebler … “last year we started seven sophomores and two freshmen … we have 16 freshmen on the varsity this year from the city middle school championship team so we are excited about our underclassmen,” said Reynolds.


Roster: 48

Best Athlete: E.J. Matthews (Jr. 5-10, 195   600 rushing yards)

Weight Room King: Jake Harden (Jr. 5-10, 215)


Best Story: Sunday morning on a Monday … “I am proud of you guys,” said coach Reynolds at the end of the morning workout … “each of the coaches wants to help you on and off the field  ... to be a mentor to you … we are here to coach football, but also the teach you how to become men and the most important aspect of life is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”


Season and Home Opener: Aug 22 Red Bank

Murphy Fair’s Pick: 1st in 5-A

Notes: has six home games and six opponents were in playoffs last year … away games at Notre Dame, South Pittsburg and district foe Silverdale


10:15 Notre Dame (9-4, 4-1) … 7-AA


Players are in the weight room … Coach Charles Fant has 17 starters back (8 on offense and 9 on defemse) led by all-state receiver Kareem Orr …  plenty of running backs in Auston Banks (1,800 yards), Ricky Ballard and William Montgomery .. QB is Alex Darras who is a 4.0 student and was district QB of the year in 2013 ... team will go in full pads Sunday evening (7:30-9)


Roster: 61

Best Athlete: Kareem Orr (Sr. 6-0, 190, WR and secondary) has verbal commitment to Louisville

Weight Room King: Chris Hornsby and William Montgomery … Auston Banks is the strongest 


Human Interest Story: Joe Dossett (Sr. 6-2, 265) .  dislocated shoulder twice last year and missed six games but back and stronger than ever …. 26 on ACT.


Season and Home Opener: Aug 22 Knox Catholic

Murphy Fair’s  Pick: 1st in 7-AA


Notes: circle Oct 3 as Signal Mtn comes to Notre Dame in key district game … Irish also have home games with Knox Catholic (state semis), Boyd Buchanan (5-A champ) Polk Co. (5-AA champ)


10:46 a.m. Chattanooga Christian (3-7, 1-4) … 7-AA


“If we don’t do it right we will keep doing it until it is done right,” shouted first year coach Rob Spence during an offensive series who demands intensity, enthusiasm, team spirit and execution.


“We have to support each other and be all in on this team,” he stated .. We work to do well for 48 minutes on Friday nights . at the end of the game each of you should be exhausted mentally, physically an emotionally and that is the effort it takes to win football games.”


New School: “I was the offensive coordinator for a very good Clemson program and have worked at other large programs but I am as excited about being here at Chattanooga Christian .. We as coaches have a chance to mold their lives and make a difference.” Said Spence.


He also pointed out that “we are afraid to hit and we have to get past that … we must be more physical.”


Roster: 52

Best Athlete: Justin Wheeler (SO. LB)  Brandon Mason (Jr. R, DB)

Season and Home Opener: Aug 22 Grace Academy


Murphy Fair’s Pick: 6th in 7-AA


Notes: had top two district teams – Notre Dame and Signal Mtn. – at home


12:05 p.m. Grace Academy (4-6, 1-2) … 5-A


Coach Bob Ateca has 20 “tenacious” players on this year’s roster … “our work enthic is our strength as our players have been here working all summer.”  …QB will be Jared Thompson who started at the end of last season as a freshman


Roster: 20

Best Athlete”  James Russell (Jr., RB, DB)

Weight Room King: Logan Groves (Sr. lineman) hard worker


Human Interest Story:  Austin Walls (Jr. 6-3) … starter at WR and defensive back … is a junior but only 15 … has a 3.8 GPA ... skipped the 5h grade coach Ateca calls him the “silent assassin” … “can always count on him” … also pitches on the baseball team … works for his dad’s construction company.


Season Opener: Aug. 22 at Chattanooga Christian

Home Opener: Sept. 5 Davidson Academy


Lunch break at favorite buffet in East Ridge…


1:18 p.m. Brainerd (3-7, 3-3) … 6-AA


Second year coach Brian Gwyn has 41 on the roster and can add a few freshmen once school starts … Panthers return nine starters … Quarterback will be Tevin Walker ..

“the strength of our team is our coaching staff … I have excellent assistant coaches”  ... “we had 25-30 players for summer workouts each day”

Roster: 41 

Best Athlete: Gequan Lendmon (Jr. OL, DL)

Weight Room King: Marcus McMillan (LB/RB) … “he is dedicated and holds everyone else accountable in the weight room.”


Season Opener: Aug. 22 at Ooltewah

Murphy Fair’s Pick: 7th in 6-AA


2:20 p.m. East Hamilton (10-3, 5-1) … 5-AAA


Caleb Rhodes and Nicholus Woods will battle for QB position … 4 starters on each side of the ball … Logan Hammond in def.  backfield


Best Athlete: Martez Durrah (6-1, 180; running back, receiver, safety)

Weight Room King: Demetrius Morgan (6-3, 280)

Human Interest Story: “our youthful exhuberance” …

Also, Jon Schussler (Sr., 6-1, 210, DE) … Eagle Scout building trails


Season and Home Opener: Aug 22  Signal Mtn

Murphy Fair’s Pick: 2 nd in 5-AAA


Notes: excellent home schedule with Signal Mtn (Aug 22) and Riverdale (Sept. 12) plus district foes Walker Valley (Sept. 5), Ooltewah (Sept. 19)  and Soddy Daisy (Oct. 17)


3:06 p.m. East Ridge (5-6, 4-2) …6-AA


Senior QB Jo Jo Tillery threw for 1,000 yards and 10 TDs and ran for 12 more … coach Tracy Malone points to an excellent receiving group including Seth Vaughn and Matthew and Andrew Mapp and Quasey Vinson


Best Athlete: Jo Jo Tillery (Sr. QB, 6-1, 185) 1,000 yards passing and 22 touchdowns running or throwing … Deangelo Johnson (LB, RB)  ... 4 yr starter … all-district soccer goalie … state champion wrestler

Weight Room King: Allen Lee (OL) … Chuck Careathers (RB, DB – pound for pound as strong as anyone on the team


Human Interest Story: receivers coach Austin Roden … brain cancer has returned and he had first chemo treatment Monday … will have aggressive six weeks of chemo … had brain cancer in 2011 and beat it, but it has returned … 2009 East Ridge grad


Season Opener: Aug 22 at Walker Valley

Home Opener: Aug 29 Notre Dame

Murphy Fair’s  Pick: 2nd in 6-AA


Notes: tough way to open the season at Walker Valley and home with Notre Dame


3:29 p.m. Howard (1-9, 0-6) …6-AA


First year coach Mark Teague has talent, but only six seniors … stresses accountability, discipline and fight through adversity … Howard will run a no huddle, up tempo offense … Howard has largest line in the district …. veterans are seniors  Desmond Powell (6-5, 350) Devante Binford (6-2, 310) … QB battle is Vincent Bowling (So., 6-2 190) .. a dual threat to run or throw ..


Roster: 25-30

Best Athlete: Quatiarius Poter (Jr. WR, RB kick returner)

Weight Room King: McKenzie Williams (RB) pound for pound as strong as any player on the squad


Season Opener: Aug 22 at Baylor

Home Opener: Sept. 26 Lancaster Christian


Murphy Fair’s  Pick: 6th in 6-AA


Notes: tough way to open the season with four road games … plays district foes Tyner, Brainerd and Red Bank at home


4:27 p.m. Lookout Valley (1-9, 1-3) …6-A


Coach Tony Webb has 27 players on the roster with sophomore QB Evan Walker leading the offense … running back Jaylen Wynn is fastest and toughest player on the team …

Seniors Adrian McGhee and Wynn are the top rushers … seniors Austin Yarbrough and Hurley Wallace will anchor the line on both sides of the ball


Roster: 27

Best Athlete: Gavin Thacker, Pascual Aranda (both are sr. wide receivers)

Weight Room King: Peyton Cook strongest … Mike Minnick (lineman) is hardest worker, best attitude

Story Line: players battling back from injuries last season and ready for 2014


Season and Home Opener: Aug 22 Silverdale  (middle school game prior to varsity)

Murphy Fair’s  Pick: 4th in 6-A


Notes: will play in the Sequatchie Valley Jamboree Aug 15 at Whitwell.


5:01 p.m. McCallie (4-8, 1-5) …D-II East/Middle


Arrive as team is eating dinner prior to evening workout and had devotional led by UTC wresting coach Heath Eslinger …Oldest program in Hamilton County (1905) … plays Baylor on campus Oct 3 … coach Potter has good team speed … J.J. Lewis, Alex Trotter and Miles Patton were on the state championship relay team.


Roster: 58

Best Athlete: Nygel Edmonds (WR, CB) junior

Weight Room King: Matthew Brock, Logan McCallie, Hays Cape


Coach Eslinger on Creating Habits: his team devotional from I Corinthians 9:24-27 consisted of 4 points … habit of vision, self-control, purpose, discipline


Season Opener: Aug 21 Cleveland at Finley Stadium

Home Opener: Sept. 12  Siegel


Murphy Fair’s  Pick: 4th in D-II East/Middle


Notes: has D-II foes Baylor, Ensworth and Brentwood Academy at home.


6:43 p.m. Cleveland (10-4, 5-1) …5-AAA


The Blue Raiders were finishing up the first day in pads …


Roster: 57

Best Athlete: seniors T.J Parker (RB, DB) Raekwon Bunion (RB), Jon Gaither (center), Jake McIntyre (safety)

Weight Room King: Trey Simpson (strongest) … J’shawn Hill most improved … good off season in weight room


Story Line: Eric Goodwin … Coach Ron Crawford -“pretty much non-athlete in middle school … but is now a three yr starter for us ... overcome broken collar bone last season  solid in the classroom”


Season Opener: Aug 21 McCallie at Finley Stadium

Home Opener: Aug 29 Cookeville


Murphy Fair’s  Pick: 2nd in 6-AA


Notes: opens season with McCallie (Thurs. Aug.21) at Finley Stadium


7:20 p.m. Bradley Central (5-6, 2-4) …5-AAA


Coach Damon Floyd has a veteran defense   Dalton Cooley (42 tackles) and D.J. Morse lead the way along with Daniel Clark at safety … QB is Cole Copeland … “Cole has tone of potential and is a winner”


Roster: 98 and largest freshman class ever with 34

Best Athlete Daniel Clark (Sr. WR, Safety .. 38 catches for 500 yds)

Weight Room King: Dakota Burgess (Jr. 6-4, 310) … strongest player on the team


Season and Home Opener: Aug 22 Polk County


Murphy Fair’s  Pick: 5th in 5-AAA


Notes: big home schedule with Polk County, Hixson, Ooltewah, East Hamilton and Cleveland


7:53 p.m. Ooltewah (9-3, 5-1) …5-AAA


Picked to win the district, Coach Mac Bryan has nine starters on defense, but needs to find a starting QB (either Kelvin Leon or London Elrod) for the graduated Brody Binder at QB … plenty of quality receivers to throw to … Edward Montgomery, Anthony Turner, Kobe Jones, Scotty Strickland … running backs include Brandon Byrd who has shown lots of improvement, and Red Bank transfer Frunsez Kendricks … district kicker of the year is Laslow Toser


Roster: 70

Best Athlete: Rashun Freeman (Jr. 5-11, 180, WR safety) , Jeremiah Jackson (Jr 6-0, 230)

Best Story: Sr. lineman Jacob Keltch (6-0, 250) has a 3.2 GPA and will have his Eagle Scout ceremony Aug. 16 ... plays in the Chattanooga Jamboree that night against Rhea Co.


Season and Home Opener: Aug 22 Brainerd

Murphy Fair’s  Pick: 1st in 5-AAA


Notes: tough four game road trip mid-season with stops at district foes East Hamilton, Bradley Central and Walker Valley … has Cleveland, Soddy Daisy and McMinn Co. at home


8:41 p.m. Silverdale (11-2, 2-1) …5-A


Replacing the Four Horseman of Lincoln Phillips, Matt McCulley, Josh Rogers and Matt Millard is a big task … QB is in good hands with seniors Nathan Keylon and Tanner Webb who shared duties last season  .. both will be on the field on both sides of the ball … junior Hunter Arnold will lead the defense at linebacker … seniors Jonathan Sanders and Jake Locklear lead the D-Line


Roster: 33

Best Athlete: Jonathan Sanders (Sr DL), Hunter Arnold (Jr. LB)

 Weight Room King: Jake Locklear (Jr. 5-11, 205), Josh Brady, Christian Rogers (So. LB)

Best Story: So. Kicker Connor Eisheid broke his right knee playing soccer in spring … was on crutches until early June and should be ready for the season opener … as kicking from 35-40 yards as a freshman … will handle PATs, field goals and kickoffs …


Season Opener: Aug 22 at Lookout Valley

Home Opener: Sept 5 Copper Basin


Murphy Fair’s  Pick: 2nd in 5-A


Notes: tough road trip to Sweetwater in Week 6 (Sept 26) … hosts Boyd Buchanan Oct. 31 in final season game


headed home at 9:58 p.m. ... 14 hours after it began

contact B.B. Branton at

Randy Smith: Will SEC Fans Ever Learn?

I have come to the conclusion that SEC fans are the best and most loyal fans in the country. They are also among the least patient fans as well.  They are easily spoiled and they become too comfortable in the winning environment that practically every team has now and then. (Yes, even Vanderbilt) When teams begin to scream for the head of their head coach, as several Tennessee ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Lady 'Canes Mount Come Back Win In 5-AAA Match

Legislative Hearing Concerning Volkswagen To Be Held In Chattanooga Oct. 29

The Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee’s Appropriation Subcommittee will be conducting a hearing in Chattanooga to review the financial impact on the state from Volkswagen’s violation of U.S. emissions standards. The meeting will be held at the Hamilton County Department of Education, 3074 Hickory Valley Road, on Thursday, Oct. 29, from 1:30-3:30 p.m.  Members ... (click for more)

Bradley County Commission Decides Not To Provide Animal Pickup Service

Bradley County Commissioners on Monday finally put animal control to rest. It was not easy and it was not without confusion, but in the end, the county will not provide animal pickup service. Confusion began when commissioners were asked to approve the agenda, which included two options for animal control pick up. Item “D” provided for the SPCA of Bradley County to pick ... (click for more)

VW PILOT Crash Landing

The Volkswagen emission scandal proves the point citizen activist, Ms. Helen Burns Sharp, has repeatedly brought to the attention of local government officials. She urged them to "beef up" the PILOT contracts before approving PILOT tax abatements. Any logical person would agree, because it is the only way to recoup a tax loss when unthinkable situations arise. Volkswagen's willful ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Readers Are Right

Jeffrey Cross is a community activist in the very finest way. He has no idea that I and many others have followed what he has done, and tirelessly I might add, to enhance the St. Elmo neighborhood at the foot of Lookout Mountain. I wish this world had a million Jeffrey Crosses. So when he wrote in protest of my Monday story, “We Want Our City Back,” I was more than eager to read ... (click for more)