Several High School Football Teams Saddle Up in New Regions
High school football in the Tennessee Valley is going to look a little different this year. The TSSAA reshuffled the classifications and regions, renewing some classic region rivalries we haven’t seen in years. News 12’s Angela Moryan traveled across the Valley to see how coaches and players feel about the realignment.
Said Soddy Daisy head coach Justin Barnes: “It’s all going to be local games every Friday night, so that’s going to be the fun part.”
The TSSAA shuffles schools into new classifications and regions every two years. However, 2021’s new look is turning a lot of local rivalries into region rivalries.
Said Walker Valley head coach Drew Akins: “Last year there was a lot of travel and not a lot of guys knowing each other. It’s a lot more fun when you look across and you know the guys you’re playing with.”
Said McMinn Co head coach Bo Cagle: “Now, we’ve got Walker Valley, Cleveland and Bradley all on the schedule, which is the way it should be. And those are good games. Ooltewah’s still on our schedule. So those are good games we always have to have. Rhea County’s on our schedule. That’s five area games within 30 minutes of each other. Those are fun games. Everybody enjoys them. Everybody comes out. So, it makes a big difference.”
McMinn County and Walker Valley’s cross-county rivalry now has playoff implications, as the Cherokees join the Mustangs and Rhea County in 5A. Ooltewah and Howard round out the region.
Said Akins: “Big time games for us, and you talk about prepping yourself for a playoff run, that region is definitely going to prep us better for the playoffs, and money’s made in the playoffs. I’m excited to have those four teams to compete with.”
Soddy Daisy drops down from 5A to join a packed 4A region with Central, East Hamilton, East Ridge, Hixson, Sequoyah and Red Bank.
Said Red Bank head coach Chris Brown: “Fortunately for us, we played Soddy Daisy and East Hamilton the last two years as a part of our non-region schedule, so they won’t be foreign to us but just as exciting.”
Said Barnes: “Even though we’ve played these teams, they’re not in our region, like East Ham and Red Bank. Those guys are very tough, so it’s still a tough region. The only thing I’ve said differently is we’re in a region with more people like us in the numbers of the school. It’s not going to be any easier, but it’s good rivalries that are probably a little closer than the other ones we’ve had.”
Meigs County stays closer to home in its new region filled with Chattanooga area teams like Tyner and Marion County.
Said Meigs Co quarterback Logan Carroll: “Going to Cumberland Gap last year, that’s three hour drive, that’s hard. Now with it being closer around the Chattanooga area, a bunch of my family, my mom’s side is from Chattanooga and Charleston area, so they can come to some games. It’s just better for the rivalry too because you think there’s some history behind it.”
Scott Chandler/Tyner: “I was hoping when I left the other school we’d get in a little easier region, but with Meigs and Tellico and Polk and Marion and Bledsoe, I mean it’s about like the one I was in, so we got our work cut out for us.”