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Public Notices

April 18, 2014

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Area Prep Teams Strap On Pads For The First Time This Year

Originally published: 2013-07-30 11:54:09
Last modified: 2013-07-30 11:54:53
 


BY DARREN REESE

SUN SPORTS EDITOR

The wait is almost over.

For those who have been biding their time for eight months or so - through spring practice, and offseason conditioning, and passing scrimmages - football season is quickly approaching.

That was signified Monday morning as high school teams across the state were allowed to don full pads for the first time this fall.

The five high schools in Greene County took advantage, some holding two-a-days, others practicing well after sundown, and a couple of them enjoying the camaraderie of overnight camps.

The start of fall practice brings a certain air of optimism and excitement that only those grueling mid-summer afternoons can provide.

Only, someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that it was time to start football season. Instead of the typical 90-plus degree scorchers that this time of year is known for in East Tennessee, the thermometer barely rose above 80 degrees. The forecast for the rest of this week doesn't show a high temp over 84.

It was a welcomed sight for head coaches, who are used to having to constantly keep one eye on the heat index.

"It feels great out here tonight," South Greene head coach Shawn Jones said.

"It's absolutely perfect weather for football and we are excited to get going."

It didn't matter which school you went to Monday, you could find a coaching staff bubbling with anticipation for the 2013 season. Greene County's line-up of five head coaches this year features three familiar faces and two who have been in the head chair before but are making a comeback this season.

At North Greene, Scotty Verran takes the place of Josh Edens, who went 13-18 in his three seasons at the school.

Edens had the Huskies' program on the rise as they were 11-10 over the past two seasons with one playoff appearance.

Verran was the head coach at his alma mater, Happy Valley, from 2007-09, and spent last season as the defensive coordinator at David Crockett.

"It's kind of like just trying to get back on the horse," Verran said of his return to head coaching.

Verran said he will handle this first week of fall practice differently than he did in years past, just because he is still getting acclimated to the team.

"We're trying to get to know the kids and know their limits and how to handle each one of them. Each kid is different, and you just have to know what each of them can do once you are out there on the field. You just can't be generic with how you try to handle them."

Also back for another tour of duty is Chucky-Doak head coach Ben Murphy, who returns after one year out of the spotlight. Murphy coached the Black Knights for nine seasons before turning over the reigns to Aaron Christian for 2012.

Christian left the program for a move to the Tri-Cities area earlier this summer.

"It's been a great so far," said Murphy of his return. "We are having a lot of fun out here. I feel like we've got a lot accomplished this first day."

"It's been easy for me to get right back into the swing of things."

Murphy hasn't made any drastic changes to the offensive and defensive packages, so the transition from Christian to himself has been pretty seamless, he said.

"We pretty much have everything installed," Murphy explained. "Right now we are just trying to refine everything and teach things like tempo and working at a faster place. We are trying to do the little things right."

As for the other three schools in the county, everything was business as usual Monday morning and optimism was overflowing.

West Greene is coming off its first playoff win in school history in 2012, and head coach Joe Case is returning a large part of the nucleus from that squad this fall.

"We're a lot better than we have been, as far as skill people," Case said. "We've got kids that are working hard."

"The thing is being consistent. Fortunately we played a lot of these guys last year, so we are just trying to work on some individual stuff that will make us a better football team."

At South Greene, Jones has so many players out this fall, he wasn't quite sure what to do with them all.

About 45 players have been taking part in workouts on Rebel Hill this preseason - up from around the usual average of 30 - and they are eager to erase the memories of last year's 1-9 showing.

"In year's past, we've been short on numbers so it's always limited us on what we were able to do," Jones said. "There were times tonight I almost forgot we had so many kids."

"It definitely allows us to do a lot more things. It's exciting to see this many kids out."

Over at Burley Stadium, Greeneville also wants to put last season in the rearview as the Devils are coming off an 8-4 season and a second-round playoff loss - a down season by their standards.

"We've had a great summer and we have great leadership from our seniors this year," head coach Caine Ballard said. "Our kids are hungry to get started. They aren't satisfied with how things went last year."

Ballard only has 12 seniors on the roster, but he says the ones that he does have are as good as he could ask for, and they are excited to leave their own chapter in the storied Greeneville football legacy.

"When we won a state championship in 2010 we had six seniors, so I'm not sure how much weight you can put on that," Ballard noted. "These are good kids who have been in the program for four years."

"It's their turn."

Opening Scrimmages

Chuckey-Doak: The Knights are at Sullivan East Friday afternoon, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Greeneville: The Devils are scheduled to host Morristown East Friday afternoon at Burley Stadium, at 5:30 p.m.

North Greene: The Huskies travel to Kings Academy this Thursday, beginning at 6 p.m.

South Greene: The Rebels will host Happy Valley on Friday at 6 p.m.

West Greene: The Buffaloes travel to Daniel Boone for a three-way scrimmage including Cocke County Friday. Action starts at 6 p.m.

 
For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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