As the new year unfolds we know what the top stories have been over the past 12 months. Maryville, Ensworth, and Greeneville repeating, Charlie High and CAK joining Wayne County, Henry County, and Friendship Christian as first-time winners are the team highlights.
Individually, the single-season records for both rushing yards and passing yards fell. In fact many single-season passing records fell at the hands of CAK’s High.
The Top Stories of 2011
High’s assault on the single season passing record book was amazing. His 5,191 yards was over 1,000 yards more than the previous record, 4,166 yards set by Anderson County’s Tanner Williams in 2009. The CAK signal-caller’s 484 passing attempts was more than 50 more than Williams’ 431, and High’s 357 completions was a staggering 78 more than Williams’ 279 set in 2010.
Oh yeah, his 65 touchdown passes shattered the previous mark of 48, set in 2001 by J.P. Shelley of Ezell-Harding.
Powell running back Dy’Shawn Mobley’s feat of breaking the all=time rushing record was more rare. Troy Fleming’s state record of 3,008 rushing yards was set in 1998, before the spread offense filtered down to high school football. For Mobley to gain 3,068 yards in 2011, and lead his team to the state championship game where they lost a heartbreaker, is certainly a major story and a great accomplishment.
But enough about 2011 because, again, we know those stories. What about 2012? What might the top stories be this time next year?
Three Three-Peats are a real Possibility
Let’s start with teams. I’ll step way out on a limb and go ahead and pick Maryville to win the 6A title in 2012. Do I really know how many seniors they lose and how many starters return – no. Do I care – no. Same thing with Greeneville in 4A and Ensworth in DII-AA. All three of those teams have great players returning and their head coaches returning. I see no reasoning for picking anyone to beat them in Cookeville next December.
Class 5A continues to be dominated by middle Tennessee and I see no reason to expect anything different next year. In 3A suddenly CAK is the team to beat with High returning for his senior season in 2012, but don’t be surprised if Alcoa returns to form. Injuries really hurt the Tornado last year and they have a lot of talent returning.
Who might come out of nowhere and play in Cookeville, or at least get close, next year. Will there be a Dresden or a Frienship Christian? And who is going to take a deep step down from their 2011 heights?
One team that comes to mind that might be least likely to repeat is Wayne County. The Class 1A BlueCross Bowl champions lose each of their 22 starters. I look for Columbia Academy, Moore County, and Gordonsville to be prime contenders for that 1A title in 2012.
Individually, High is certainly the story heading into next year. I don’t know how many yards, if any, he passed for in his sophomore season. The numbers tell me he is 5,299 yards away from breaking the all-time career passing yardage record of 10,489 even if he didn’t play his sophomore year. Perhaps a reader can provide me with High’s sophomore statistics.
Columbia, Signal-Mountain Return
Another team that I expect to contend for a state title is Columbia. The Lions, Class 5A champions in 2010 and runner-up in 2009, return first-team all-state quarterback Matthew Marcum and wide receiver Dre Hall. The pair could set some records of their own if they can find another receiver to replace Eric Belew and help take some focus off of Hall.
Signal-Mountain will return to challenge for the 4A title. The six vacated wins kept them from a likely showdown with Greeneville at some point in the 2011 4A postseason bracket, but don’t expect Bill Price’s team to be anything but hungry to prove they not only belong in 4A but can win it all in 4A.
The Potter’s Hands
Ralph Potter’s return to McCallie is the biggest Division II story outside of Corn Elder and Ensworth. Potter was magnificent during his previous tenure leading the Blue Tornado, winning a state title in 2001. Baylor has been the beast of the east side of the state recently in DII, but I expect a new opponent for Ensworth in Cookeville next year.
Anytime the Brentwood Academy head coaching job is open it is a major story. Although the rumor has been that Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward was interested, as of the release of this blog there has been no announcement. The Eagles are probably the highest-profile team in Tennessee, even though they haven’t won any titles lately. It’s still a great job.
In Class 2A don’t be surprised if Knoxville Grace is a contender as the calendar extends into late November next season. Despite their postseason ban this past season, they appeared to be one of the classification’s top teams and should be highly motivated to prove themselves next season.