First down and a long way to go!
It’s going to be an interesting season on the gridiron for the three Marshall County High School football teams.
There is a new coach at Forrest, a new quarterback at MCHS, and a new way of looking at things in Cornersville.
Former defensive coordinator Eli Stephenson takes over the reins at Chapel Hill this season after the Rockets posted a dismal 4-7 record last year, including a quick exit from the playoffs via a 63-36 thrashing at Westmoreland.
The Rockets won only one non-region game last season and that was against a winless Cascade squad.
Forrest jumps right back into the fire tonight when they travel to DII-AA Battle Ground Academy in Franklin.
The Wildcats stomped the Rockets 48-19 in the last year’s season opener and went on to post an 11-2 record and advanced all the way to DII-AA state semifinals where they lost to eventual state champion Lausanne 42-21.
The Rockets never recovered as they lost six out of their first seven games.
There will be no secrets when the Rockets arrive at BGA tonight as they will try to run the football and stop the Wildcats’ rushing attack and potentially lethal air assault.
Rocket senior quarterback Josh Meglis may put it in the air a few times, but a victory will only come via a successful ground attack with juniors Nick McClendon and Blaize Sweeney leading the way.
Forrest had a chance versus BGA last year, but gave up the ball twice inside the five-yard line in the first quarter on a fumble and a fourth-down stop by the Wildcats.
BGA quarterback Drew Martin, who completed 24-out-of-28 passes for 327 yards and three TDs and ran for two more in last year’s win is off at Tennessee Tech, but the Wildcats return 18 seniors on a deep and talented squad.
Forrest will be hard pressed to get this win.
Going into the season, the Marshall County Tigers had senior quarterback Bryce Wallace, who threw for 1,780 yards and 17 touchdowns, plus ran for 622 yards and eight TDs.
He is back at Giles County with his brother Bo, who became the offensive coordinator for the Bobcats.
Into the fire steps senior Malik Thomison, who has 15 pass completions and 126 yards rushing and three touchdowns for his career and all but one rush last season was in his sophomore season.
The Tigers have moved on and Thomison has looked good in preseason action along with a new group on offense with running backs Javarria Rucker and Elijah Taylor, plus a talented receiving corps in Dagon Stacy, A'Ky Howard, and Kel Greer.
MCHS head coach Thomas Osteen (42-11 overall record) has guided the Tigers to three straight Class 4A state semifinal games and is not about to let adversity affect his squad in a bad way.
Look for the Tigers defense, led by DI linebacker prospect Jayshon Wilcox to come up huge this season and it will start tonight when Marshall County travels to Cane Ridge for the season opener.
The Tigers get revenge from last year’s close 27-20 loss to the Ravens in Lewisburg as they win 24-21.
The road back to Cookeville begins tonight for the Class A state runner-up Cornersville Bulldogs when they make a season opening road trip to Unionville to take on the upstart Community Vikings in a non-region matchup.
The Bulldogs turned in the best season in school history in 2017 when they went undefeated in region play to post a 13-2 record.
The boys from Frog Bottom are still loaded on both sides of the ball, beginning with a stout offensive line that should make some big holes for running backs Eli Woodard, Cameron Whitaker, Trenten Warren, and training camp standout Brady Calahan.
Senior Henlee Mitchell gets the nod a quarterback and has a solid receiving corps with both Woodard and Whitaker out of the backfield and receivers Peyton Finch, Ryan Prosser, Blake Pickett, and Ethan Courtemanche.
The key to stopping the pass happy Vikings will be the play of the Cornersville defensive unit that sports the Baus brothers (Devin, Sr. and Dylan, Jr.), Houston Williams (Jr.), and junior defensive end Michael Bungay on the line.
The back seven is all seniors and they will be in a headhunting mood that should create a lot of Community turnovers for a blowout win over the Vikings.