BY DARREN REESE
& WAYNE PHILLIPS
It's Homecoming at Greeneville High School Friday night, while Chuckey-Doak and North Greene hit the road for crucial regional games that will obviously figure into the post-season when November rolls around.
The Greene Devils will welcome county rival West Greene to town to help celebrate Homecoming 2012 in a Blue Ridge Conference tilt.
Chuckey-Doak, tied with Cumberland Gap for the lead in the BRAC at 2-0, faces a huge encounter when they travel to play the Panthers. Both teams go into the clash with 4-1 season worksheets.
North Greene also has a big Region 1-1A contest in Carter County where the Huskies take on state-ranked Hampton.
South Greene has this Friday off.
All games will start at 7:30 Friday night.
BUFFS AT BURLEY
West Greene travels to Greeneville Friday night with both teams looking to make improvements over last week's efforts.
West Greene recorded a 28-14 win over non-district county rival North Greene, but even in victory, Buffaloes' coach Joe Case saw his squad commit some of the same mistakes they have been prone to all season.
"Turnovers and penalties," Case said. "If we don't have those mistakes then we probably score 45 points in that game."
"It's important for our team to understand that you can't do things like that and expect to be successful."
The Buffaloes (2-4, 0-2 District 2-AA) lost three fumbles and committed 12 penalties for 115 yards against North Greene, but used 300 rushing yards to stay in front the entire way.
Nathan Morgan ran for 164 yards, while Jonathan Paggett added 65.
Case said his kids always look forward to playing Greeneville, despite the Devils' district dominance since the last round of TSSAA realignment in 2009.
"I know some fans take it out of proportion with certain things, but it's a good (rivalry)," Case said. "We have kids that put their pants on the same as those guys up there. We want to compete and get better each week, just like them."
"The truth of it is, when playoffs come around, (Greeneville) is competing in Class 4A and we are in 3A, and we should cheer each other on the rest of the year."
Greeneville (2-3, 1-0), ranked ninth in the state in Class 4A, is coming off a 42-0 loss to Class AA No. 2 Alcoa - the worst defeat of the Caine Ballard era.
The coach said the loss definitely exposed some weaknesses in his squad.
"You play in those type of games to uncover some things and learn a little bit about yourselves," Ballard said. "I thought our effort and mentality just wasn't there."
"I hadn't seen that out of my team since I've been the head coach. That's just as much a reflection on me as it is the players, and it's something we will get fixed."
Greeneville's three losses have come against teams ranked in the state in their respective classes - Science Hill is No. 5 in 6A, Morristown West is No. 13 in 5A.
But with five consecutive District 2-AA games on tap to finish out the regular season schedule, Ballard knows his team's ultimate goals are still within reach.
"We can still win the conference, we can still get a good seed in the playoffs," Ballard said. "We've made some changes personnel-wise and attitude-wise this week, and we'll see how those work out."
West Greene has been one of Greeneville's toughest league opponents the past couple of seasons, and Ballard expects the Buffaloes to be ready to play again Friday night.
"They always play with a lot of effort," Ballard said. "They have a couple of good backs on offense, and defensively they really fly around to the football."
"They have gotten after us the past couple of seasons, but I've challenged our kids to really come out focused. We aren't in a position where we can overlook anybody this year."
CHUCKEY-DOAK AT CUMBERLAND GAP
Chuckey-Doak has finished on the right end of a pair of offensive shoot-outs the past two weeks, and head coach Aaron Christian credits part of that success to the maturation process of junior quarterback Kris Hinkle.
Hinkle is in his first year as a starter for the Black Knights, and as his experience level increases so does his comfort running the offense. Last week he threw for 200 yards in a 55-31 win over Cosby.
Chuckey-Doak (4-1, 2-0) will need Hinkle and the offense to come up big once again this week as they travel to Cumberland Gap (4-1, 2-0) in a matchup of the top two teams in the District 2-AA standings.
"Kris got the first two or three starts under his belt and these last two games the experience has really shown," Christian said. "It really helps me to have someone in there I can trust.
"If I can give him three or four checks during the week - 'If you see this then do this' - and I can count on him to do that, it gets us out of wasted plays. That's one of the big things I try to tell him all the time, don't waste plays."
Cumberland Gap is coming off a bye week. The Panthers defeated West Greene 21-6 in their last outing. Their only loss of the season was a 39-14 decision at Oneida.
Christian says Cumberland Gap likes to use multiple formations on defense, but he expects them to load the box as much as possible to try and slow down Chuckey-Doak running back Bryce Malone. Malone has ran for 437 yards and five touchdowns since returning from an injury over two weeks ago.
That will make Hinkle's performance even more key.
"We've seen three different defenses from (Cumberland Gap) in the film that we've watched," Christian said. "Oneida runs a double wing, similar to what we do, and (Gap) was stacking nine people in the box."
"We're trying to get ready for them to come out and try to stop our run, and if they do we are going to look to Kris to make some big plays."
The Panthers are led on offense by quarterback Blake Franklin. The senior has thrown for 679 yards with six touchdowns to just one interception, while also running for 250 yards and eight scores.
Cumberland Gap also relies on running back Wesley Nance, who is averaging over 100 yards per game.
HUSKIES AT HAMPTON
Hampton (4-1, 2-0) has been the top dog in Region 1-1A for awhile, and North Greene Coach Josh Edens knows his Huskies face a big challenge when they play the Bulldogs on Friday night.
The Huskies are 4-2 on the year, 2-0 in the region and tied with both Hampton and Cloudland. This will be the first meeting between those three teams this year.
"In our mind, this game will determine the district title, and that's not taking anything away from anybody else we play," Edens said. "You can't win the district if you don't beat Hampton."
Edens said the Bulldogs are as solid as they've been in years past, but they do seem to have a different approach on offense this season.
"This year one of their best athletes is the quarterback, and they like to spread out and get him into space and let him run," Edens said. "They have normally been just a power-I team that runs over you. The quarterback will throw just enough to keep you honest. We've got to be very aware of him."
The Huskies dropped their game to county rival West Greene last Friday, but Edens said the players have bounced back with a good week of practice.
"We lost a tough game to South Greene, then came right back and got Cosby," the coach said. "So I think they can shake off that loss to West Greene. Our program is still growing."
The Huskies have had to shuffle some players around due to several injuries. Receiver Codie Coleman was removed from last week's game with a concussion and will probably miss the next two contests. Offensive tackle Will Walker has an ankle sprain "but he's still playing." Lineman Tanner Collins has been lost for the year with a knee injury. Linebacker Tyler Ricker is day-to-day after missing last Friday.
"But the guys have adjusted pretty well to the injuries," Edens said. "I think we can get off the bus at Hampton and feel pretty good about the team we'll put on the field."