Raiders, Wildcats make 1st state poll
by --By JOE CANNON Assistant Sports Editor
Aug 27, 2013 | 733 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If there was any question about the strength of District 5-AAA football, having a trio of teams in the first Associated Press Class 5A state poll of the season should put any doubts to rest.

Newcomer East Hamilton earned the highest ranking among the 5-AAA elite, garnering 84 votes to secure the fourth place slot in the list.

Cleveland High is ranked No. 7 with 43 total votes, while Ooltewah is just outside the Top 10 at 11th, with 25 votes.

Another local perennial power, Polk County is once again among the top Class 3A squads. Continuing the trend of the last several years, the Wildcats are the No. 9 squad in the 3A listing, with 28 points.

Having four ranked teams among the two local districts, plus another half dozen from Chattanooga, speaks well of the quality of football in the Southeast Tennessee area.

The Chattanooga schools making the initial polls were: Baylor and McCallie, third and fifth in the Division II ranking; Tyner Academy and Notre Dame, fourth and eighth in 3A; and Boyd-Buchanan and Signal Mountain, which were both No. 4 in the 2A and 4A lists respectively.

Polk County opened its season with a stunning 29-27 upset of Class 6A Bradley Central, beating the Bears for the first time ever in Benton.

After going 7-3 in 2012, coach Derrick Davis’s Wildcats were ranked 10th in the final poll of last season before making their 12th straight trip to the TSSAA playoffs.

Polk County will journey to Harrison Friday night in search of win No. 2 against Chattanooga Central. The Purple Pounders defeated Franklin County 18-9 in their opener.

A pair of the Wildcats opponents later in the season were also on the AP list — Notre Dame and South Pittsburg, ranked No. 2 in the Class 1A poll.

In just its fourth year of existence, East Hamilton earned a No. 3 ranking in the final 2012 Class 4A poll, and advanced to the state quarterfinals before having its strong run come to an end after leading running back Logan Jackson was injured the previous week.

Moving up to class 5A, coach Ted Gatewood’s 2013 squad is led by Vanderbilt commitment Tre Herndon and opened the season with an exciting 14-12 victory over Signal Mountain last Friday night.

After playing one fellow state-ranked team to begin the campaign, the Hurricanes will get another Friday evening when 10th-ranked (6A) Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett comes to Collegedale.

Despite putting up 520 yards of offense in its season-opener, coach Ron Crawford’s Cleveland High squad came out on the short end of a 55-35 tally to McCallie last Thursday, but still earned enough respect from the AP voters to make the Top 10.

Led by highly touted quarterback Austin Herink, who threw for 472 yards in the opener, the Blue Raiders will look to get on the right track this week with a trip to reigning District 6-AAA champion Cookeville.

Cleveland has to make a trip to Knoxville on Sept. 27 to face second-ranked (5A) Knox West.

After an easy 42-2 victory over Brainerd last week, Ooltewah will have its hands full Friday night as ninth-ranked (6A) Siegel makes the trip down from Murfreesboro. The Stars fell to No. 6 Blackman 42-21 in their season opener.

The Owls also have games set up against state-ranked Tyner and Dobyns-Bennett during the season.

Many familiar names sit atop the first polls of the season with Maryville (6A), Hendersonville Beech (5A), Knoxville Fulton (4A), Alcoa (3A), Grace Christian (2A0, Coalfield (1A) and Ensworth (Division II) earning the No. 1 spots.