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After months of off-season weight lifting and weeks of practicing in the hot summer sun, the 2013 football season is finally here with four of Roane County’s five teams opening regular season play on Friday.
Friday’s schedule features four non-district games with opponents from all across East Tennessee.
Two county schools, Midway and Oliver Springs, will be making long road trips as the Bobcats travel to Unaka while Midway heads toward Kingsport to take on Tri-Cities Christian.
Harriman and Rockwood will be at home, taking on opponents that will be making long road trips. Harriman will be hosting the Indians of Hancock County while Rockwood hosts the Indians of Oneida.
Kingston, doesn’t open the regular season until next week, but will be playing at Rhea County in a scrimmage.
Little is known about Tri-Cities Christian considering the Golden Eagles are not members of TSSAA. Tri-Cities Christian, however, did beat Oakdale and King’s Academy last season so the Green Wave must be on their toes.
No matter who the opponent, however, Midway’s game plan will be the same as QB Shandon Lyle will be asked to make plays with both his legs and right arm.
On the ground, the Golden Eagles will see a heavy dose of Lyle, Mason Woody and Austin Longmire. Through the air, Lyle’s top targets will be Jonathan Beason and Zach Qualls.
Season openers are always hard to predict, but the Green Wave have a great chance to start the season 1-0... Midway 28 Tri-Cities Christian 18.
Oliver Springs at Unaka
The Bobcats and Rangers both missed the playoffs last season, but Wiley Brackett’s squad was close to a postseason berth while Unaka suffered through a 1-9 season.
The Rangers were blown out in those nine losses, giving up 39.3 points per game while being shut out four times.
Oliver Springs will head to Stoney Creek with a game plan of wearing down the Rangers with their big offensive line. Senior RBs Shawn Childress and Eddie Stephenson should get a lot of carries Friday night.
If the running game is effective, then sophomore QB Brandon Buck could find speedy receiver Anthony Woods with one-on-one coverage.
It might take the Bobcats a while to get to Unaka, but as long as they hang on to the football, the trip will be worth it... Oliver Springs 34 Unaka 14.
The Indians are a bit of a mystery. In 2012, Hancock County went 2-8, but along the way scored 26 or more points four times while failing to put any points on the board on three occasions.
Hancock County even had to forfeit a game along the way for lack of players.
If depth is a problem for the Indians again this season, then look for Harriman to have a big advantage as the game goes on.
The Blue Devils are deep in the offensive and defensive lines and should stay fresh into the final period.
Harriman is also deep in the backfield with Kaleb Eleam, Mikey Roberts, Garrett Greene and Taylor King expected to share the wealth with touches.
In years past, depth has hurt the Blue Devils in early season games when temperatures are hot. Now, Harriman is hoping their depth on a hot summer night will be the difference... Harriman 28 Hancock County 20.
Oneida at Rockwood
Two programs with rich tradition and similar styles lock horns at Civitan Field Friday night in what could be a nail-biter.
Both teams rely heavily on their ground game and strong defenses. That should again be the plan Friday night as both squads lost a lot of seniors last year.
Oneida is young at a lot of positions, but not at quarterback where senior Cole West will look to make plays. West is the Indians most dangerous player and could also see time at running back against the Tigers.
While Oneida has experience under center, Rockwood might have a merry-go-round at the position. The Tigers entered fall practice with four potential starters and after last week’s jamboree, head coach John Webb still hadn’t made a decision between senior Hunter Grant and sophomore Jared Neerman.
No matter who starts under center, they will be giving the ball to WB Drake Long and FB Jared Kilby quite a bit on the evening.
Rockwood, however, will have trouble being one dimensional against an Indian defense that allowed just 10.6 points per game in 2012. That means whoever is under center will have to make plays throwing the football.
This game promises to be hard hitting and physical. Both teams have a lot of question marks entering the season and that could lead to sloppy play, but Oneida does have experience at quarterback and that might just be enough to leave “Tiger Town” with a win... Oneida 21 Rockwood 14.
Goose’s Gander on other games of interest: Coalfield by 28 over Copper Basin, Oakdale by 14 over Sale Creek, Sunbright by 21 over King’s Academy, Grace Christian by 7 over Austin-East, Greenback by 14 over Sweetwater, Sequoyah by 21 over Tellico Plains, Alcoa by 28 over Smith County, CAK by 14 over Franklin Road Academy, Knoxville Catholic by 10 over Notre Dame, Scott by 28 over McCreary County.