Pigskin Preview 2021

Page 1

The Greeneville Sun 2021 Pigskin Preview

COOL HAND LUKE Myers, A 2020 Mr. Football Finalist, Returns As A Steady Force For The South Greene Rebels, PAGE 10

ALSO INSIDE • Chuckey-Doak Season Preview, PAGE 2 • Greeneville Season Preview, PAGE 4 • North Greene Season Preview, PAGE 8 • West Greene Season Preview, PAGE 13 • Composite High School Schedule, PAGE 15


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New Coach, Skill Players Give Knights New Look change a lot. So the main thing we have been focused ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR on is making better what we have already done instead of Things will look a lot starting over. different on the sidelines at “We have worked really Chuckey-Doak this fall. Longtime coach Ben Mur- hard in the weight room this phy will no longer be leading summer. We have evolved that a little bit, we have the Black Knights, and just about everyone who touched evolved our practices a little the ball last season has been bit. We are starting to see those results, and hopefully lost to graduation. they show up on Fridays.” That leaves first-year The Black Knights will coach Matt Ripley and a still be operating out of their strong unit of big guys on spread Wing-T system on ofthe line of scrimmage to try to lead Chuckey-Doak to fense. It is a formation they the playoffs for the fourth have run out of for more consecutive season. than a decade, but it has While there is a lot of new- been updated in recent years ness in personnel, Ripley to implement some more is doing his best to keep as modern offensive ideas. much of the program as he On defense, they will still use the 3-3-5 formation that can the same. provides a lot of versatility, “After playing for coach Murphy, and coaching for showing a multitude of looks coach Murphy, I really liked to opposing offenses. With their top passer, top what he did,” Ripley said. runner, and top receiver “There was no reason to


from a year ago gone, the Black Knights have had to call on their big guys to take over as leaders in the offseason. So far Ripley has been impressed with how they have handled that task. “We’ve had our offensive and defensive lines really step up this offseason. Kellen Capps, Carlos Dimas and Dillon Shelton have really stepped up and become vocal leaders for us,” Ripley said. With All-County quarterback Matthew Palazzo gone, Chuckey-Doak has called on Cayden Tullock to take over

behind center. He has little experience in varsity action on the gridiron, but has been a standout for the Knights in both basketball and baseball. Ripley is hopeful that his experience in big moments in other sports will help the junior hit the ground running at quarterback. “Cayden Tullock has stepped into the quarterback role really well,” Ripley said. “You can tell that he learned a lot from Matthew Palazzo, and he really understands the offense. Cayden kind of brings his own style, but he is getting better every day. He has become very vocal and makes sure everybody is where they need to be. I couldn’t be more pleased wth the transition.” At running back, the Black Knights will count on a stable of rushers to carry the load this season. At full-

back, they lost workhorse Evan Murvin, but his little brother Brasen Murvin will take many of those touches. Colton Smith and Josh Guy are two more guys that will handle the tough carries between the tackles. Jaylen Willett will add some speed from the wing or slot, as will sophomore Brock Rush and freshman Hayden Roper. “Each guy brings their own piece,” Ripley said of his running backs. “One guy may run a little harder, but the next guy is a little quicker. There have been a couple of years where we had one guy that carried the ball for us, and that takes a toll. Being able to spread the ball around a little bit will hopefully have guys fresh in the fourth quarter.” At receiver, senior Connor Lamons brings back the most experience, and junior Austin

Morris is another guy who will haul in a lot of passes. Isaiah Treadway and Tom Hickman are two more guys that will add depth out wide. At tight end, Ripley expects Hayden Anderson to be very involved in the offense. Along the offensive line, Ripley feels like he has several good options, and that all of them can play any position if called upon. He expects Bryson Thompson, Carlos Dimas, Kellen Capps, Nathan Norton and Isaac Waycaster to be the starters in week one at Knoxville Catholic. Rance Tipton, Dillon Shelton and Leiland Hensley will also rotate in. “We lost a lot of skill guys from last year, but having those guys back and having a veteran offensive and defensive line takes some of SEE KNIGHTS ON PAGE 3


2021 SCHEDULE Aug. 20 – at Knoxville Catholic Aug. 27 – at Happy Valley Sept. 2 – JOHNSON COUNTY Sept. 10 – GRAINGER Sept. 24 – SOUTH GREENE Oct. 1 – UNICOI COUNTY Oct. 8 – CUMBERLAND GAP Oct. 15 – at Claiborne Oct. 22 – at North Greene Oct. 29 – at West Greene

2020 RESULTS at Knoxville Catholic L42-0 HAPPY VALLEY, COVID WIN at Johnson County W 35-29 SULLIVAN NORTH, COVID WIN NORTH GREENE W 68-12 at South Greene L 41-14 at Grainger, COVID LOSS CLAIBORNE L 37-6 at Unicoi County W 43-21 WEST GREENE, COVID WIN Playoffs KINGSTON W 43-42 * BOLD — HOME GAME

Thursday, August 19, 2021 • Pigskin Preview• Page 3


that headache away,” Ripley said. “You coach a little more of the detail stuff with the skill guys, because you know the play in front of them is blocked correctly.” On defense, it will be many of the same guys Chuckey-Doak will count on up front to lead the way. Capps, Dimas, Norton and Waycaster will be the primary guys with their hands in the dirt on defense. Chuckey-Doak also brings back some experience at linebacker with Shelton, Smith and Guy in the middle. On the outside, Ripley likes what Murvin can do along with Anderson, Cole Lamons and Rio Little. In the secondary, upperclassmen Willett, Hickman and Connor Lamons will be counted on to lead the way. Austin Smith and

Rush are a pair of sophomores 2021 CHUCKEY-DOAK BLACK KNIGHTS who will have the opportunity to No. Player Position No. Player Position earn playing time, and as summer 38 Diego Dimas DB/WR 3 Connor Laamons DB/WR has gone on Morris has shown he 42 Colton Smith LB/RB 4 Maro Rojas K/P can play defense in addition to 44 Hayden Roper LB/RB 6 Rio Little DB/WR being a good receiver. 45 Joseph Emmett DB/WR 7 Austin Morris DB/WR Marco Rojas is back to handle 46 Jonah Cochran DB/WR 8 Nichols Palazzo DB/QB 50 Carlos Dimas DL/OL the kicking duties for the Black 10 Austin McBurnett DB/WR 52 Weston Ward DL/OL Knights, and Morris will handle 11 Cayden Tullock DB/QB 54 Dillon Shelton DL/OL 13 Brasen Murvin LB/RB the punting duties. 55 Kellen Capps DL/OL 14 Brock Rush DB/WR Chuckey-Doak won Region 1-3A 58 Cayden Masters DL/OL 15 Matt Foshie DB/WR in 2019 and was second in the re60 Jacob Ferguson DL/OL 18 Tom Hickman DB/WR gion in 2020. The region will look 62 Leiland Hensley DL/OL 19 Kyle Johnson DB/WR mostly the same in 2021 with the 63 Bryson Thompson DL/OL 20 Jackson Southerland DB/WR 70 Keaton Smith DL/OL exception of North Greene leaving. 22 Jaylen Willett DB/RB 74 Nathan Norton DL/OL Ripley expects the five-team league 23 Weston Smith DB/WR 75 Isaac Waycaster DL/OL 24 Josh Guy LB/RB to be competitive again this year, 76 Eoin Neas DL/OL 26 Austin Smith DB/WR and he knows his team will have 77 Rance Tipton DL/OL 27 Cole Lamons LB/RB to be ready for a tough task every 79 Anthony Russell DL/OL 30 Will Garber LB/RB week. 80 Tyson Williams DL/TE 31 Trent Helso DB/WR “The region is wide open,” Ripley 82 Hayden Anderson LB/TE 32 Elijah Elliott LB/RB 84 Isaiah Treadway DB/WR said. “Johnson County is going to 34 James Seidi LB/RB 88 Caaden Gaddis DL/TE bring that down-hill style. Unicoi 36 Peyton Dean LB/RB is going to spread us out. Claiborne is coming off of a good year, and I expect West Greene to improve. I way. We have all of those conferlose one, you’re out of that champihonestly feel like it could fall any ence games circled because if you onship race.”

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Deep Devils Eyeing Deep Playoff Run BY SAM BUNDY

second-year Greeneville coach Eddie Spradlen. “I SPORTS EDITOR really feel good about this team.” The Greeneville Greene At the beginning of the Devils haven’t played for a 2020 season, the Greene state championship since winning back-to-back Class Devils found themselves somewhat in flux. 4A titles in 2017 and 2018. After replacing state But high school football is championship coach Caine cyclical. And with Greeneville being the established Ballard prior to the 2019 season, Dan Hammonds powerhouse that it is, another state championship coached just one season before stepping away last appearance is bound to summer. come around again. The coaching reins then With nine starters returnfell to Spradlen, who rallied ing on each side of the ball the Greene Devils to a 9-4 and others having gotten record, including a 24-20 significant playing time a loss to eventual 4A state year ago, the Devils’ next champion Elizabethton trip to Cookeville might as in the quarterfinals of the well be this year. playoffs. “This team has a chance “Last year, I don’t know to be special for sure,” said

what the expectations for that football team really were,” Spradlen said. “They lost their head coach right before the dead period. I take over and people didn’t really know what to expect from me. But I just told people to give us a chance to see where we can get to by the end of the season. “Now expectations are high with this year’s team, but I just want to see how good we can get by Week

10. I’m not sitting here saying we’re going to be this or that. We should be good, I hope, but we have a really tough schedule. The key will be staying healthy in the long run.” With realignment reducing Greeneville’s Region 1-4A to six teams – Elizabethton (15-0 in 2020), Grainger (6-5), Seymour (0-11), Sullivan East (3-8) and Volunteer (3-7) being the others – the Greene Devils have had to find five non-region opponents instead of four this season. Greeneville will open at Knox Central, a team that went 10-3 and reached the Class 5A state quarterfinals last year, at 7 p.m. Aug. 21. Morristown West (2-7

receiver spots. “We don’t have enough footballs to give to everybody who needs to get a football, I can tell you that,” Spradlen said of his arsenal at the skill spots. In a scrimmage against West Ridge on Aug. 7 at Burley Stadium, Greeneville did a pretty good job of spreading the ball around. OFFENSE Gillespie, a Mr. BasketGreeneville has playmak- ball finalist who helped ers all over its depth chart. Greeneville to the Class Junior Brady Quillen re2A basketball state chamturns at quarterback, senior pionship over the winter, Mason Gudger returns at had a 70-yard touchdown. running back, and seniors Stevenson had a 60-yard Jakobi Gillespie and Jaden TD, and Dabbs and Laws Stevenson, and juniors each had a 40-yard TD. Adjatay Dabbs and Mason SEE DEVILS ON PAGE 6 Laws return at the four

in Class 6A in 2020), Dobyns-Bennett (10-3 in Class 6A), Oak Ridge (Class 5A state runner-up at 11-4) and Morristown East (5-5 in Class 5A) are also on the Greene Devils’ schedule. “Trying to find five non-region football teams willing to play us is pretty tough,” Spradlen said.


Thursday, August 19, 2021 • Pigskin Preview• Page 5

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but he’s just more physically mature and the arm CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 strength has come on. And with the receivers we “We’ve had some bighave, all Brady has to do is time receivers here in get the ball close to them the time I’ve been here, and they’re going to make but I don’t know when plays.” we’ve had four who can Sophomore Corbin run like these dudes do,” Cannon will be Quillen’s Spradlen said. “Any time any of these guys touch the backup. “Corbin has pushed football they have a chance Brady as well as anybody to take it to the house. It’s going to be hard for teams could push him this sumto match the speed of that mer,” Spradlen said. “Last group.” year is proof that if you After taking over for inwant to be a good football jured starting quarterback team, you better have two good quarterbacks. That’s Drew Gregg last season, what we have. If Brady Quillen completed 66 of isn’t in there, we don’t feel 102 passes for 1,015 and 12 TDs while throwing just like we’d have any drop off with Corbin in there.” four interceptions. Greeneville’s biggest In the scrimmage against offensive weapon continWest Ridge, Quillen completed five of six passes for ues to be Gudger, who ran for 1,012 yards and 13 TDs 270 yards. on 128 carries and caught “With Brady, it’s night 11 passes for 226 yards and and day difference from two TDs last season. where he was last year to “Last year, Mason played where he is now,” Spradlen at about 160 pounds. He’s said. “He’s had a year to a legit 175-180 pounds this grow and a year to be in the offense. He works hard year, and he’s probably even more explosive than in the weight room and he’s been in the past which he’s trying to be more of a leader, making sure every- is saying a lot,” Spradlen said. body knows what they’re While Gudger will be the doing and is on the same feature back, the Greene page. Devils’ depth at running “He’s throwing the back is a roster all its own. football a whole lot better Senior Isaac Brown, junior than he did last year. He Damien Short, sophomore threw it well last year,


Amanuel Dickson, junior Anthony Petersen and sophomore Bryson Myers are all capable of carrying the pigskin. “I’ve been here 15 years and we’ve never had the running back depth that we have right now,” Spradlen said. “I have six guys who could all step in and play and we’d be just fine.” Greeneville returns three starters – senior left tackle Terry Grove, senior left guard Mikeal Pillar and right tackle Kameron Lester – on its offensive line. Senior Angus Wirt steps in at center, while junior Ty Williams steps in at right guard. “It’s a big offensive line with the smallest guy being about 6-foot-2, and they’re athletic,” Spradlen said. “I was looking at them one day last week at practice. Coach (Danny) Bentley was talking to all of them and they were standing around him. Coach Bentley is a big man and they were all kind of standing over top of him.”

to anchor their defense, they want him to be the most dominant player on the field. “Rashard can be as good as he wants to be,” Spradlen said. “He’s had the best offseason he’s had since he’s been at Greeneville. He’s stronger than he’s ever been and he moves good.” Lester returns at the other defensive tackle spot and Grove will be at left defensive end. Sophomore Zac Chrisman, senior Keelen Lester and Myers will get snaps at the other end spot. Brown, Petersen and senior Grayson Hite return at the linebacker spots. Laws will be at strong safety, senior Jackson Tillery will be at free safety, and Gillespie and Stevenson will be at the cornerback spots.

“This is as an exciting of a group as I’ve been able to coach,” Spradlen said. “Jakobi and Jaden are obviously as good as anybody at receiver, but those two dudes are big time on the corners as well. They have great closing speed and have a chance to make a play on every ball in the air. “Laws is somebody who can cover the field sideline to sideline and go up and get the ball. He had two big interceptions at the end of the year last year, one against Anderson County and one against Elizabethton. And Jackson Tillery was among our leading tacklers a year ago.”

SPECIAL TEAMS Greeneville returns both

2021 SCHEDULE Aug. 21 at Knox Central Aug. 27 GRAINGER Sept. 3 at Elizabethton Sept. 10 MORRISTOWN WEST

Sept. 17 VOLUNTEER Sept. 24 DOBYNS-BENNETT Oct. 1 at Seymour Oct. 8 OAK RIDGE Oct. 15 SULLIVAN EAST Oct. 22 at Morristown East

2020 RESULTS DANIEL BOONE L 34-35 at Union County COVID WIN SCIENCE HILL L 25-45 at Austin-East W 42-0 at Tennessee W 28-24 SULLIVAN CENTRAL W 77-0 at Sullivan South W 41-7 ELIZABETHTON L 10-44 at Grainger W 49-14 SULLIVAN EAST W 68-14 Playoffs HOWARD, COVID WIN at Anderson County W 28-24 at Elizabethton L 20-24 * BOLD — HOME GAME


DEFENSE At 6-foot-1, 300 pounds, senior defensive tackle Rashard Claridy is a large individual. The Greene Devils not only want him

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Thursday, August 19, 2021 • Pigskin Preview• Page 7

2021 Greeneville Greene Devils No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Player Anthony Petersen Mason Gudger Jaden Stevenson Amanuel Dickson Adjatay Dabbs Jayquan Price Jakobi Gillespie Jackson Tillery Keelen Lester Corbin Cannon Brady Quillen Carson Quillen Brock Moore Cooper Johnson Damien Short Noah Murray Hayden Goad Nik Pillar Mason Laws Charles Dabney Grayson Hite Isaac McGill Isaac Brown Bradley Wells Tamario Sanders


Ht. 6-1 5-10 6-0 5-10 6-1 5-10 6-0 5-8 5-10 5-11 5-9 5-9 6-2 5-7 5-10 5-9 5-8 5-11 6-0 5-9 6-1 6-2 5-11 6-4 5-10

Wt. 215 180 175 190 165 165 170 160 185 180 175 180 185 130 195 155 130 180 160 150 185 150 215 185 140

Class Jr. Sr. Sr. So. Jr. Jr. Sr. Sr. Sr. So. Jr. Fr. Sr. So. Jr. Fr. So. So. Jr. So. Sr. Fr. Sr. Sr. Jr.

No. 26 27 28 29 30 32 33 34 35 36 41 43 44 45 46 50 51 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60

Player Pos. Amari Maddox TE/DE Gage Spano TE/DE Jacob Harmon WR/LB Tristan Easterly WR/DB Drew Armbrister RB/LB Joniel Del Valle Roldan RB/DB Bryson Myers RB/LB Brayden Weems RB/DE Dillon Brooks LB Elijah Dabney WR/OLB Brandon Petty WR/DB Jacob Moore WR/DB Zac Chrisman RB/DE Paul Anderson OL/DL Ross Cornelius DE Jaylin Durbin RB/LB John Bowman OL/DL Angus Wirt OL/DL Gibson Boswell OL/DL Terry Grove OL/DL Spencer Roths OL/DL Ty Williams OL/LB Drake Benko OL/DL Avery Harris OL/DL John Ridinger OL/DL

Ht. 6-0 6-3 5-9 5-7 5-10 5-3 6-0 5-5 5-8 5-9 5-8 5-8 6-1 6-0 5-10 6-0 6-1 6-1 5-11 6-5 6-1 6-3 5-8 5-10 6-3

Wt. 195 215 165 115 180 115 205 165 170 125 130 135 235 175 215 195 205 245 265 215 205 270 210 250 165

Class So. Sr. Jr. So. Fr. Fr. So. Fr. Sr. Fr. Fr. Fr. So. So. Sr. Jr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Jr. So. Jr. Fr.

No. 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 69 70 71 72 73 74 76 77 78 80 81 82 83 84 86 87 88 99

Player Derek Adams Christian Feltner Kameron Lester Quinton Humphrey Brandon Iezzi Dawson Peake Bryson Bird Lincoln Burroughs CJ Reyes Angus Herrell Jalen Short Quaylin Brown Braddock Barefield Jerry Shepard Mikeal Pillar Jonathan Fuller Quinton Brandon Thomas Lollar Darien Humphreys Ronan Johnson Austin Cole Cooper Graham Jackson Sams Jhervius Moore Rashard Claridy


Ht. 5-8 5-10 6-1 6-3 6-0 6-0 6-01 5-11 5-8 5-7 6-6 6-0 6-0 6-3 6-1 5-9 5-8 5-11 5-7 5-3 5-10 5-10 5-5 5-11 6-1

Wt. 200 300 265 245 285 275 210 210 190 175 285 265 220 250 300 275 150 150 130 100 160 180 100 150 300

Class So. Jr. So. Fr. Fr. Sr. Jr. Fr. Fr. Fr. Jr. So. So. Fr. Sr. So. So. Fr. Fr. Fr. Jr. Jr. Fr. Fr. Sr.


of its kickers from last season in junior Cooper Graham and sophomore Quinton Brandon. Graham will kick field goals, while Brandon will do the punting. Both will compete for kickoff duties. “We’ll also still put Gudger and Stevenson back there at punter some like they did last year to do some rugby-style punting and make the defense worry about whether or not it’s going to be a fake,” Spradlen said. Laws will be the snapper, backed up by Tillery. Cannon and junior Jayquan Price have been working as the holder.


Greeneville running back Mason Gudger (2) looks for running room during a 24-20 loss in the Class 4A quarterfinals at Elizabethton last season.




Page 8 • Pigskin Preview • Thursday, August 19, 2021





New Coach, New Region Give Huskies Optimism BY TATE RUSSELL

have a core group of guys who have bought in and are willing ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR to do what is necessary to win,” Tilson said. “I told them North Greene has not our goal is to build that core experienced a victory on the gridiron since September 27, group and then start adding to that group. That takes 2019, and is 4-36 the past convincing their teammates four seasons. to buy in. But with a new region, a “That is part of the struggle new coach and a new attitude, of changing the culture. The the Huskies are entering the good thing about this school 2021 campaign with new is that there is already a optimism. winning culture here. We just Over the summer, Eric have to take that culture and Tilson took over as coach put it on the football field.” at North Greene, replacing In addition to a new coach, Andrew Murray who left to the Huskies are also moving be offensive coordinator at to Region 1-A from Region Morristown West. Tilson, a Greeneville native, 1-3A. The drop in classificawas an assistant at Unicoi tion pairs North Greene with County last season and is exschools closer to their size as cited about the opportunity to it joins Unaka, Jellico, Cloudturn the Huskies in the right land and Cosby in league play. direction. “I think we are competing “The kids have responded against more similar schools,” really well and I think we Tilson said. “We will have

similar problems as the teams in this region. The problems I had at Unicoi County last year were completely different than the problems we have here at North Greene. “We are dealing with a similar playing field. We are playing against other schools of 300 students, whereas most of the schools in the region last year had 600, 700 or 800 students. I think the level of play will be similar, now we just have to go out and compete. That does not guarantee any winning, but we will go out and compete.” Tilson is excited to put his mark on the North Greene program and plans for his squad to be physical at the line of scrimmage. The Huskies’ focus will be on establishing the running game on offense and shutting down the running game on defense.

“My philosophy is players, then formation and then plays,” Tilson said. “We want to put our playmakers in the best position to succeed, and we will use formations to do that. Then play calling will come from that. We will use whatever we have in our arsenal to get our best play makers the ball.” Leading that Huskies’ ground attack will be senior Tyler Sanches, who led North Greene in rushing last year with 600 yards and six touchdowns. “Tyler Sanches is an older guy that we will heavily rely on on both sides of the ball. He brings us some stability and has to be a leader,” Tilson said. Joining Sanches in the running-back rotation will be junior Corbin Hayes and exciting freshman Yeshua

Vaught. Tanner Sexton is back at quarterback for North Greene after taking over the position midway through his sophomore campaign. Despite Sexton being the most experienced passer on the roster, Tilson considers the quarterback competition wide open going into week one against Unaka with Walker Hayes and Colton Robbins also vying for the starting job. Even if Robbins does not win the quarterback job, he is one of the players Tilson is most excited about. The coach likes the idea of the mismatches he can create by putting Robbins and Brady Harkleroad on the field at the same time as a pair of talented tight ends. He thinks the duo might be two of his most talented players and thinks both can line up all over the

formation. “Colton Robbins and Brady Harkleroad are two guys that have stepped up in the offseason. We want to get them the ball and let them go out and make plays,” Tilson said. “They can line up out wide or inside. They both catch the ball well and block well. I like both of them with the ball in their hands. My background is in defense, and one frustrating thing is going against two good tight ends. You can line up a lot of different ways and the defense doesn’t know what is coming. That makes it hard for the defense to blitz. Those two guys give us a lot of versatility. They can both play out wide, they can play fullback or H-back, and they can play tight end.” SEE HUSKIES ON PAGE 9


Thursday, August 19, 2021 • Pigskin Preview• Page 9


Also catching passes will be a receiving corp that Tilson thinks can keep defenses guessing. While the Huskies want to establish the run first, they are confident Grayson Collins, Jake Duffy and Nicholas Mitchell can get the ball in space and make plays. The Huskies are still trying to figure out what the offensive line will look like, but they have a few returners Tilson is confident in. Those include seniors Eli Reaves and Jonah Dunbar, and sophomore Colton Culp. On defense, the Huskies will work out of a 4-2-5 formation and heading into week one Tilson feels really good about his front six. “We will to stop the run, and those safeties will play down hill,” Tilson said. “We allow our two linebackers to just go make tackles. I’ve been impressed with our interior six. I think those four down

guys and the two linebackers will be the strength of the entire team.” At defensive end, North Greene will again count on the duo of Harkleroad and Robbins to cause problems for opposing offenses. At tackle, Jonah Dunbar and Chase Morgan have been two of North Greene’s best players in the preseason. At linebacker, Sanches will be counted on to be all over the field, just like he was last year on his way to being named to the Sun’s All-County team. He will be joined by Corbin Hayes, and Carson Culp will add depth to the unit. One player Tilson is excited about at linebacker is Damien Burns. Burns moved in from West Greene in recent weeks, and while he has not mastered the playbook yet Tilson has been impressed by his instincts. At defensive back, Duffy and Ben Atnip have been sharing time at free safety. Vaught and Collins will

be asked to be both run stoppers and pass defenders from their strong safety spots. At corner, Casey Cox has been the been the most consistent player in the preseason, but North Greene is still looking for somebody to play on the opposite side of the field. On special teams, North Greene will use both Grayson Collins and Matthew Collins to handle the punting duties. One is left-footed and the other right-footed, and Tilson also plans to use rugby-style kicks to challenge defenses. “Special teams is a major emphasis for me,” Tilson said. “We spend part of every day working on those units, and we will try to use special teams to our advantage. We won’t line up in the same formation every time we punt, and we will make teams adjust to us. I have no qualms about faking punts.” Matthew Collins and Levi Finkle are competing to handle North Greene’s kicking duties.

2021 North Greene Huskies No. 1 2 3 4 6 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18

Player Position Dakota Creel ATH/LB Jake Duffy ATH/DB Yeshua Vaught RB/LB Nicholas Mitchell WR/DB Colton Robbins TE/LB Casey Cox WR/DB Glenn Swatzell RB/DB Grayson Collins WR/DB Walker Hayes QB/LB Matthew Atnip ATH/DB Corbin Hayes RB/LB Ben Atnip ATH/DB Levi Finkle RB/DB Tanner Sexton QB/LB

2021 SCHEDULE Aug. 20 – UNAKA Aug. 27 – at Castlewood (Va.) Sept. 3 – at Lakeway Christian Sept. 10 – at Jellico Sept. 17 – RED BOILING SPRINGS Sept. 24 – at West Greene Oct. 1 – COSBY Oct. 8 – at South Greene Oct. 22 – CHUCKY-DOAK Oct. 29 – CLOUDLAND

19 20 41 43 50 52 53 54 55 56 70 73 75 76 79

Zach Atnip Corey Harkleroad Chase Morgan Tyler Sanches Carson Culp Damien Burns Wesley Grindle Adam Weir Jonah Dunbar Adon Wood Eli Reaves Cody Reves Matthew Collin Eli Buckner Weston Barrett

2020 RESULTS UNAKA, COVID WIN at Cosby L 26-12 at Unicoi County L 42-0 at Sullivan South L 58-8 at Chuckey-Doak L 68-12 JELLICO L 46-22 WEST GREENE L 42-14 SOUTH GREENE L 53-12 CLAIBORNE L 37-0 * BOLD — HOME GAME


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Page 10 • Pigskin Preview • Thursday, August 19, 2021



Rebels Hope To Carry Record Season Forward BY WAYNE PHILLIPS SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS After 12 straight victories in the 2020 high school football season, South Greene High made it all the way to the state’s Class 2A quarterfinals before finally tasting defeat. Now as the 2021 season unfurls, fans might be asking, “What do you do for an encore?” “I think heading into last year, not too many people were taking us seriously,” veteran Coach Shawn Jones said of his Rebels. “I believe that early on the players believed, and I know the coaches believed we could be special, but we sort of flew under the radar. We won’t be able to do that this year. We’ll have

a target on our backs from the outset. But we have a lot of kids back. We’re looking forward to the season.” The 12-1 season mark in 2020 was a school record for wins at South Greene. There are several reasons the Rebels will be considered one of the state’s best Class 2A teams this year, not the least of which if the fact that they return 2020 Mr. Football semifinalist Luke Myers at quarterback. “Luke is a winner,” his coach smiled, quickly adding, “he’s just a do-it-all player for us. He’s very unselfish. He worked hard in the off season to make himself better, and the other kids watch him work and he sets a great example, especially for the

younger players.” Last year Myers, now a senior, put up some lofty numbers. He finished with 1522 yards passing with 18 touchdowns, rushed for 1459 yards and scored 25 TDs, and on defense he picked off four passes and returned two for scores. While the return of Myers will cause headaches for South Greene’s opponents, he will now work behind a seasoned offensive line, something he didn’t have last year. “Trevor Heater was the only lineman we had coming back last year that had a lot of playing time,” Coach Jones said. “But the younger guys worked hard and behind the scenes the coaches saw they



Aug. 20 – DANIEL BOONE Aug. 27 – at Knox Catholic Sept. 2 – HAPPY VALLEY Sept. 10 – WEST GREENE Sept. 17 – at Cumberland Gap Sept. 24 – at Chuckey-Doak Oct. 1 – at Hampton Oct. 8 – NORTH GREENE Oct. 15 – JOHNSON COUNTY Oct. 22 – SEYMOUR

at Unicoi County W 38-21 at Lakeway Christian W 49-12 COCKE COUNTY W 10-7 at West Greene W 28-21 SULLIVAN NORTH W 45-6 CHUCKEY-DOAK W 41-14 at Cosby W 49-0 at North Greene W 53-12 HAMPTON W 35-31 at Happy Valley W 35-28 Playoffs CUMBERLAND GAP W 35-0 ROCKWOOD W 35-3 at Meigs County L 42-14

were getting better. After the first game we saw we might have something here, and as the season went on they just kept improving.” The Rebels’ losses to graduation did include a pair of gritty running backs in Mark Crum and Corey Houser, along with Preston Bailey. They also lost an AllState kicker in Jay Higgins,

* BOLD — HOME GAME a position that Jones had not yet been able to fill in the preseason. Despite those losses, Jones sees bright spots in the backfield with senior Ronan Buss, senior Jaylen Ingram

and junior Cody Rambo. The Rebels have the ability to go the air, too, with the arm of Myers feeding returning seniors Caleb Robinson and Chandler Fillers. Junior Clint Lamb is also an able receiver, along with Ingram in the slot position. Junior Phillip Blair will also be counted on. Youngsters who have shined in the preseason include sophomore Dion Blair, freshman Jace Roderick and junior Isiah Ealey. Also, senior Hayden Hartman came over from the basketball program and has helped at tight end. But one of the strengths will be the line, now with more experience. Heater is a fourSEE REBELS ON PAGE 12




Thursday, August 19, 2021 • Pigskin Preview• Page 11



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year starter and will open as the center. He is joined by sidekicks senior Alex May, senior Grant Freeark, senior Logan Wagner and senior Isaac Collins. There will be several youngsters who are expected to spell those veterans, including junior Zander Thompson, junior Jake Wheel, junior Hunter Seaton, sophomore Jacob Warren and senior Trenton Salisbury. As is normally the case at the smaller schools, most of the starters on offense will be on the field for defense as well. If Myers needs a breather at quarterback, sophomore Conner Race is working to be the signal caller. Special teams play is always a concern. Jones said he is still looking for a kicker to

GreenevilleSun.com 42 44 47 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 59 60 61 63 65 67 69 70 72 74 76 77 79 81 86

2021 South Greene Rebels No. 1 2 3 4 5 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 20 21 22 24 29 31 33 34 39 40 41

Player Luke Myers Chandler Fillers Jace Roderick Phillip Blair Caleb Robinson Cody Rambo Ronan Buss Clint Lamb Isiah Ealey Zeke Rader Jacob Susong Conner Race Conner Marshall Jaylen Ingram Dion Blair Keshawn Engram Trey Gentry Hunter Burkey Brian Smith Derek Miller Levi Treadway Hayden Hartman Bredan Lisenby

Year Sr. Sr. Fr. Jr. Sr. Jr. Sr. Jr. Jr. Fr. Fr. So. Jr. Sr. So. So. Fr. Jr. Sr. Jr. So. Sr. Fr.

replace Higgins. The punting duties are in very capable hands with Luke Myers. “It’s basically a new district, but we only have four teams

Joseph Cole Christian White Zak Ricker Isaac Collins Trevor Heater Seth Franklin Trenton Salisbury Logan Wagner PJ Snyder Noah Robinson Alex May Matt Mancil Grant Freeark Josh Kirby Garrett Jennings Hunter Seaton Preston Marlow Jacob Warren Jake Wheel Aiden Bailey Zander Thompson Logan Angel Chris Belt Mason Fann Caleb Smith Jeff Dotson

now,” Coach Jones said. “We lost Cosby, and Sullivan North consolidated. Cumberland Gap was added to our district. So now it’s us, Hampton, Hap-

County, Unicoi County and Cloudland – dropped us.” Most observers say that the district will be a dog fight between the Rebels and Hampton, who also returns a veteran squad. “We went up there and played 7-on-7 in the summer passing league,” Jones said. “We know they will be very good. That Week 7 game up there at Hampton will be something.” The Rebs will open up against Daniel Boone on Rebel Hill, then will play at state power Knox Catholic in Week 2. “We know those first two games will be tough, but we hope to be able to compete,” Jones said. Other newcomers to the schedule this year are Johnson County and py Valley and Cumberland Gap. It makes it tough to get a Seymour. Although it’s a veteran Rebschedule, especially since three other teams that we wanted el squad, Jones said there are to continue playing – Cocke plenty of things to work on.

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“Improving discipline is No. 1,” he said. “No stupid penalties. We know that people are going to come after us hard this year, and they will do things to try to get under your skin. We have to be disciplined. I also know that with our four Greene County schools, it’s hard to come up with a veteran group like we’ve got this year. They don’t come along too often because we are all small schools. So when you get a group like this, you want to make sure you continue doing the right things.” While 2020 will forever be remembered as the “Covid Season,” that disease is still very much a concern to the schools, Jones said. “This fall is more like normal, but we know the virus is still out there and it’s a worry, that’s for sure,” the coach said. “We just have to take it week by week and do the right things.”

Thursday, August 19, 2021 • Pigskin Preview• Page 13





‘Building Process’ Continues For Buffaloes BY WAYNE PHILLIPS SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS Coach Scotty Verran and his West Greene Buffaloes hope to improve on a 3-7 record from a year ago, but with the task of breaking in a new quarterback to run the offense, the coach knows the challenges are there for his football team. The Buffs will certainly miss the graduated team members, which included quarterback Allen Vaughan, who threw for over 1,000 yards on the season in only nine games, plus his leadership skills as the signal

caller were evident throughout 2020. Vaughan is now a member of the Tusculum football team. “We got to have a more normal preseason this year,” Coach Verran said, “certainly different from last year when we couldn’t scrimmage or anything. We played in some 7-on-7 camps and that was good for the kids competing for the quarterback job, as well as the receivers.” While there will be plenty of newcomers in the starting lineup for the Buffs, enough veterans return to give the West Greene

faithful hope that they can improve on the 3-7 worksheet last year. Janson Kesterson, a returning senior, will be a workhorse in the backfield, and Verran is expecting big things from him. “He ran the ball a lot for us last year,” the coach said. “Dakota Wood and Allen (Vaughan) led us in rushing, but Janson was in there often.” There’s a good battle for the quarterback job between junior Jaden Gregg and sophomore Baxley Britton, with sophomore Dawson Daniels also in the

mix. “Jaden hadn’t played football since the seventh grade as he ran cross country,” Verran said. “And he never played quarterback then. But he’s done some good things in practice and in scrimmages.” Along with Kesterson in the backfield, West Greene will also use Keith Valentine, a senior, at running back as well as at receiver at times. Hunter Gregg, a junior and Jaden’s twin brother, will also be in the backfield some. Junior Casey Doughty has also showed some spark in

scrimmages, especially on special teams. If West Greene goes to the airways, they have some returning receivers that can be an asset. Junior Ethan Turner is back in the blue and gold. “He’s a big target (6-2) and he has great hands,” the coach said. “In scrimmages he has shown he’ll catch it if we get it close to him. Braylon Rader (a junior) could be a difference maker. He has some speed and quickness that will help us.” The Buffs will be led along the line of scrimmage by Aaron Waddell, who is

one of the few returning linemen with any extensive experience. “The offensive line is a chief concern right now,” Verran noted. “But Aaron must anchor our line. He has good size (6-3, 250) and is getting some college looks because of his size and because he moves real well.” Roger Marshall, a junior, was in the backfield last year but has moved to help shore up the line with his size (6-2, 200). In a recent scrimmage, Verran said he made three consecutive SEE BUFFS ON PAGE 14

Page 14 • Pigskin Preview • Thursday, August 19, 2021


tackles for a loss, and he expects teams to have to double team him some because of his aggressiveness. Zach Carroll (sophomore) and Domyniq Forbus (senior) are also expected to start along the line. Caleb Norris (6-3, 255) will start at tight end on offense and will also be a key at defensive end when the opponent has the ball. A look down West Greene’s roster shows plenty of size. “We’re a tall team – a lot of kids over 6 foot – but we’re not really that heavy,” the coach smiled. On defense, many of the offensive players will do double duty. Verran said Sylas Debord (junior) will

2021 SCHEDULE Aug. 20 – at Union County Aug. 27 – NORTHVIEW ACADEMY Sept. 3 – at Claiborne Sept. 10 – at South Greene Sept. 17 – JOHNSON COUNTY Sept. 24 – NORTH GREENE Oct. 1 – at Cloudland Oct. 8 – CHEROKEE Oct. 15 – at Unicoi County Oct. 29 – CHUCKEY-DOAK

be an anchor up front. John Ramsey (senior) will also be counted on as a lineman. Valentine and Turner will be active as the outside linebackers, while Maddox Garber (sophomore) and Wyatt Moody (sophomore) will be among the inside linebackers. One area of play that has not been of concern to the coaches is the kicking game, where Blair Shelton returns for his senior campaign.


2020 RESULTS at Northview Academy L 50-42 CLAIBORNE L 28-7 SOUTH GREENE L 28-21 at Johnson County L 34-13 at Cosby W 21-0 at North Greene W 42-14 KNOX CATHOLIC L 44-21 UNICOI COUNTY L 42-21 HANCOCK COUNTY W 38-0

* BOLD — HOME GAME “He can be a real weapon for us,” the coach said. “He can flip the field with his foot. He kicked a school record 43-yard field goal last year, and he’s been consistent on kickoffs reaching the end zone. That is so special when a high school kicker can do that and you force the opponent to start from the 20. Blair’s a good one, so we feel we are solid in the kicking game.” Verran likes the schedule

2021 WEST GREENE BUFFALOES No. 1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 21 22 23 40

Player Ethan Turner Janson Kesterson Blair Shelton Aydin Daugherty Peyton Fugate Jaden Gregg Austin Franklin Mason McCamey Tristin Kelly Bryson Church Hunter Gregg Dawson Daniels Keith Valentine Asheton Shelton Braylon Rader Alec Greene

Year Jr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Soph. Jr. Fr. Soph. Sr. Sr. Jr. Soph. Sr. Soph. Jr. Soph.

the Buffs have laid out this year, and he says the regional race could be a good one as he does not see one team that will dominate. “I think our schedule has teams we can compete with,” he said. “We start at Union County, then North-

No. 44 50 52 53 56 63 65 67 70 73 75 77 78 80 82 86 98

Player Wyatt Moody Domyniq Forbus Roger Marshall Maddox Garber Justin Sentelle Sylas Debord Aaron Waddell Tyler Melton John Ramsey Jaden Ray Zach Carroll Alex Jimenez Landon Jones Casey Doughty Jeffery Hawk Alex Johnson Caleb Norris

view Academy comes here. But our conference (Unicoi County, Johnson County, Claiborne, Chuckey-Doak and West Greene) does not look to have a real solid favorite. It looks balanced. We added Cherokee to our schedule because we just

Year Soph. Soph. Jr. Soph. Soph. Jr. Sr. Soph. Sr. Fr. Soph. Jr. Fr. Jr. Fr. Fr. Sr.

feel like that could be a good rivalry game because they are so close to us, and it will be a good gate.” Like other coaches Verran has to be concerned about the Covid virus, which cost SEE BUFFS ON PAGE 15

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High School Football Composite Schedule August 20 Chuckey-Doak at Knoxville Catholic West Greene at Union County Unaka at North Greene Daniel Boone at South Greene August 21 Greeneville at Knoxville Central August 27 Grainger at Greeneville Chuckey-Doak at Happy Valley Northview Academy at West Greene North Greene at Castlewood, Va. South Greene at Knoxville Catholic September 2 Johnson County at Chuckey-Doak Happy Valley at South Greene September 3 Greeneville at Elizabethton West Greene at Claiborne North Greene at Lakeway Christin September 10 Morristown West at Greeneville Grainger at Chuckey-Doak West Greene at South Greene North Greene at Jellico September 17 Volunteer at Greeneville Johnson County at West Greene Red Boiling Springs at North Greene

South Greene at Cumberland Gap September 24 Dobyns-Bennett at Greeneville South Greene at Chuckey-Doak North Greene at West Greene October 1 Greeneville at Seymour Unicoi County at Chuckey-Doak West Greene at Cloudland Cosby at North Greene South Greene at Hampton October 8 Oak Ridge at Greeneville Cumberland Gap at Chuckey-Doak Cherokee at West Greene North Greene at South Greene October 15 Sullivan East at Greeneville Chuckey-Doak at Claiborne West Greene at Unicoi County Johnson County at South Greene October 22 Greeneville at Morristown East Chuckey-Doak at North Greene Seymour at South Greene October 29 Chuckey-Doak at West Greene Cloudland at North Greene

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West Greene kicker Blair Shelton (3) celebrates with Ethan Turner after Shelton made a school record 43-yard field goal during a 38-0 win over Hancock County on Oct. 23.


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