BY WAYNE PHILLIPS
Two homecoming games highlight Friday night's high school football slate, plus if you plan on attending the Greeneville High game at Burley Stadium, you had best arrive early or you'll miss the kickoff.
North Greene and West Greene have the homecoming games on tap. The Huskies will welcome cross-county rival South Greene, while the Buffaloes have Unaka coming in to Jim Sauceman Field. Both those football games start at 7:30 p.m., but homecoming festivities will be held prior to kickoff.
Meanwhile at Burley Stadium, Greeneville will be facing mid-state foe Franklin County and the game has been moved to a 7 p.m. start to accommodate the visitors and allow them some extra time to commute back to their home following the contest.
Chuckey-Doak has this week off.
REBS AT HUSKIES
There have been many years during this rivalry that the tables were turned: the Rebels were flying high and the Huskies were struggling.
The 2012 season is different. North Greene will welcome an expected huge Homecoming crowd at The Tundra with a 3-0 record, while South Greene is off to an 0-3 start.
"We ask our kids every day 'What's your record?'," Huskies Coach Josh Edens said. "They will say 0-0. We reset the clock every Friday night. We're off to a good year, but we haven't done anything yet. It's a new week, a new game."
South Greene Coach Shawn Jones knew coming into this season, with only four seniors on the roster and a lineup with plenty of freshmen and sophomores, that the Rebs would have some growing pains. Those growing pains hit hard last week with a big loss at Cumberland Gap.
"We've obviously got to play harder than we did last week," Jones said of the trip to North Greene. "North Greene is riding high right now. They're off to a great start. Baileyton is ready to party all night. We're still trying to figure things out, but I expect us to play better."
Edens said he sees plenty of potential when looking at the South Greene team.
"They're not an 0-3 team," Edens said of the Rebels. "They've been so good for so long out there, people just don't forget that. Those kids they've got, they're young, but they've watched from the sidelines over the years and they know the tradition of that program. They've not turned the corner yet. We don't want them to turn the corner on us."
Jones was equally complimentary of the Huskies.
"Their skill people are hard runners," Jones said. "They've got a quarterback who throws it well and their defense gets after you. They're aggressive. We hope to have some success early. We need some early success. We've never had a lead in a game yet this year."
Edens said that his team wants to jump on the Rebels early.
"I think that's important," he said. "Last week we led Unaka only 3-0 at the half. That resulted in a lot of stress. We played better in the second half. But we need to get after South Greene early."
Both teams appear in good shape physically. Reb quarterback Hunter Waddell sat out last week's game but should be ready to play this week. Freshman Justin Casteel started last Friday.
Edens said that Ethan Dotson would be out of action this Friday, but the rest of the troops should be ready to go.
FRANKLIN CO. AT GHS
Greeneville High had last week off to lick their wounds from an 0-2 start after taking losses to a pair of powerful opponents in Science Hill and Morristown West. It's been a long two weeks, according to Coach Caine Ballard.
"When you're 0-2, you want to get back there and get with it," Ballard said. "I think the kids are handling this OK, but they are not used to this feeling and none of us like it a bit."
A quality opponent comes to Greeneville in the Franklin County Rebels, who are off to a 3-0 start after an overtime victory over Shelbyville Central last Friday. The Rebels won 39-38 in the extra period, choosing to go for a two-point conversion and the win after scoring a touchdown.
"They've got just about everybody back from last year ... all their skill people," Ballard noted. "The first half was a struggle down at their place last year. We went up by a touchdown just before halftime, then we were able to score some points in the second half (a 48-14 GHS win).
"But they are very capable of grinding you away with their offensive, moving the football and working the clock."
Franklin County opened the year with a 35-16 win over Howard, then won over Lebanon 27-6 before beating Shelbyville last Friday.
"It looks as if they are moving the football well, executing well," Coach Ballard said after watching the videos. "They were very confident in going for the two points in overtime."
The Devils have had two weeks to get healthy, and Ballard said his troopers are in good shape physically.
"We got Michael Lane back at linebacker, and it's good to get a senior back in there," Ballard said.
UNAKA AT BUFFS
West Greene Coach Joe Case knows a victory will go a long way toward rejuvenating his Buffs football team, who has struggled out of the gates this year with an 0-3 start. So, what better time than Homecoming 2012 to get things turned around.
"We've had a good week (of practice)," he said. "Kids are resilient. They seem to be focused on Unaka and what we need to do to win the football game. We had better be, because Unaka is destined for a win. We just don't want that to be this week."
The Rangers are also 0-3, but they have been very close to pulling off some surprises, Case said.
"Last week they were down 3-0 to a good North Greene team in the first half," he said. "They were right with Chuckey-Doak in their first game 13-7 before things went bad. Against Happy Valley ... they were right there. Turnovers have hurt them badly. But they play hard and do some good things."
The Buffs have played some heavyweights early in the year in Cherokee, Oneida and last week at Grainger. The loss to Grainger was disappointing, but Case saw his team do some good things.
"We gave up too many big plays on third down," he said, "and we made too many penalties that cost us. Plus we didn't control the ball on offense long enough and never got our defense off the field. But a win would do wonders for this bunch. If they keep playing hard and keep getting better, good things can happen."
Case said the team is "fairly healthy" except for the normal bumps and bruises, and Dylan Kirk, who missed last week, should be ready to go this week.