This week, only Northeast Tennessee high school teams kick off regular season play. So, while they’ll wait until later to tackle Southwest Virginia, college and pro games, our guys figured they might as well get revved up with what promises to be an exciting slate of games on the Tennessee side of the line this weekend.
First, a quick refresher on how things turned out last year. Prep guru Douglas Fritz separated himself from the pack down the stretch to earn the undisputed Kingsport Times News picking title. In the Johnson City Press, where they pick all Tennessee games and staff member Jamie Combs sits in for Southwest Virginia reporter Kevin Mays, Combs managed to tie Fritz for top honors.
The order of finish in Kingsport: Fritz (153-56), Joe Avento (151-58), Tanner Cook (148-61), Kevin Mays (146-63) and Jeff Birchfield (144-65). The order of finish in Johnson City: Fritz and Combs (122-39), Cook (119-42), Avento (116-45) and Birchfield (114-47).
Can Fritz defend the title? How will the 2019 season shake out? We’re about to find out.
Here's how they see it going down in Week 1:
* Five unanimous picks: Science Hill over Elizabethton, David Crockett over Ooltewah, Daniel Boone over Sullivan South; Unicoi County over South Greene, and Johnson County over Sullivan East.
* Four on board: Three games earned a 4-2 split on the panel. Ultimately, the majority picked: Gatlinburg Pittman over Hampton, Happy Valley over Cloudland, and Unaka over North Greene.
* Three teams earn early nod from Mays: CAK, Cherokee and Tennessee High are near unanimous picks for week 1 wins. The only outlier: Mays, who’s flying with Volunteer’s Falcons over CAK, Union County over Cherokee, and Tennessee High over Dobyns-Bennett at J. Fred. On TV.
* Two football editions: Did we mention that both the Times News and Johnson City Press annual high school football previews hit newsstands Thursday (Aug. 22). If you didn’t pick up a copy, you’re going to want to find one.
* One paw for the Cougars: Most of the panel is rolling with the Golden Raiders in week one’s Sullivan County clash, but Avento expects Sullivan Central’s Cougars to win a close one.
Check out this week’s football picks every week in the Thursday papers and share your thoughts about them in social media where you can find us @tnsportslive. Be sure to give members of our sports team a follow as well for all the latest sports coverage throughout the year!