High school football season kicks off Aug. 23 for most teams, so let’s take our annual trip on the Grand Tour. This journey could be taken by a high school football fan while catching a top game each week — along with getting a well-rounded look at Northeast Tennessee’s teams.
The toughest choice will come in Week 10 when the Musket Bowl butts heads with Science Hill’s traditional clash against Dobyns-Bennett.
Here are the picks for the games to watch on the 2019 Grand Tour:
Elizabethton at Science Hill
It seems like it is always the easy pick for the best opener, and last year’s dramatic 36-34 Elizabethton win adds to the mix for the rematch.
It is intriguing as the Cyclones have a much different team from last year. And while Science Hill has some important returning players, there’s plenty of youth in the starting lineup.
Science Hill at David Crockett
Yes, you’re getting the Hilltoppers in back-to-back weeks, but how can you pass this one up?
Science Hill scored 216 points (an average of 72 per game) in the last three meetings against Crockett, but this is a different Jonesborough program. The Pioneers are coming off a 12-1 season and have record-setting quarterback Cade Larkins back for his senior season.
Tennessee High at Daniel Boone
This is a nice opportunity to see if the Vikings fit into the Region 1-5A championship mix with Boone and Crockett. The Trailblazers have had Tennessee High’s number in recent years.
Greeneville at Science Hill
It’s the two-time defending TSSAA Class 4A champions visiting the Hilltoppers, who will be reminded of last year’s 42-0 road whipping.
Volunteer at Cherokee
With many teams in Region 1 playing a far-away opponent, why not grab the opportunity to take in a good old-fashioned backyard skirmish? Another option is Sullivan Central at Sullivan South.
Dobyns-Bennett at Daniel Boone
It’s the first chance to get eyes on the Indians. And even though this is a non-region affair, it’s the first meeting between these teams in five years and a renewal of an interesting city-county rivalry.
Hampton at Sullivan North
It’s game No. 3 of a four-game region slate, so it’s almost certain to hold title implications. And it’s the only chance on the Grand Tour to get a view of Region 1-2A.
Sullivan South at Greeneville
The Rebels have been third in the Region 1-4A pecking order for two seasons. To change that portrait, this is a game in which South has to be competitive.
Greeneville at Elizabethton
Two of the Greene Devils’ closest games during their 30-game winning streak have come against the Cyclones. That makes this year’s version a must-see event.
David Crockett at Daniel Boone
Science Hill at Dobyns-Bennett
These games tend to be epic when they involve a title chase. So this is the one week you wouldn’t want to buy tickets in advance.
The lean here is toward Crockett and Boone having more championship significance than the Hilltoppers versus the Indians, but who knows how the season will actually play out?
Unicoi County at Johnson County
The chances of this game settling the title issue in Region 1-3A are very strong. Plus it’s the first and only chance on the Grand Tour to see what this region has to offer.
SEVEN MEN IN STRIPES
Officials across Tennessee met in Nashville last week to learn more about the mechanics of seven-person crews for football.
The TSSAA currently requires five-person crews in the regular season but is weighing its options toward expanding to seven. Last year, the TSSAA expanded the use of seven-person crews into round 16 of the playoffs.
“Each year, more and more schools request seven-person crews for their regular-season games and the state office has been working diligently to bring new officials into the fold and get them trained in the procedures and mechanics of working in that system,” said TSSAA assistant executive director Richard McWhirter.
The 2020 meeting will be held in Knoxville. Members of the public interested in becoming an official can visit tssaa.org/get-involved-as-an-official.
COUNTDOWN TO THE OPENERS
Girls soccer season is just around the corner.
Getting a jump on things is David Crockett, which will play host to West Greene at 6 p.m. on Monday.
The regular season runs through the week of Oct. 7 with district tournament action set to begin Oct. 14.
Also getting started next week are the area’s volleyball teams.
Unicoi County is first up as the Lady Blue Devils will travel to meet Providence Academy at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.
The regular season runs through the week of Sept. 30 with district tournament action set to begin on Oct. 7.
GOLF SEASON IN SWING
Defending Class AAA champion Science Hill travels Thursday to play Daniel Boone at Graysburg Hills Golf Course.
Dobyns-Bennett has a match Thursday against Sullivan South at Warriors Path Golf Course.