Last season, Nashville Christian broke through and beat Greenback to win the school’s first state title. The Eagles will enter the 2016 season on a nine game winning streak and will grace the Examiner Spring Top 10 as the state’s number one team.
Dresden returns 17 starters from last season’s 11-2 Quarterfinal team that does return Class 1A Mr. Football Back winner Dresser Winn at quarterback. You never can count out Union City or Wayne County as they return Mr. Football Back Finalist Preston Rice at quarterback
Like last season, the West side of the state will be littered with potential roadblocks at every turn as Nashville, Christian, Dresden, Union City, Wayne County, Huntingdon, Trousdale County and Carver will be favorites to make the state title game in Cookeville.
The favorites from the East will feature Greenback, Columbia Academy, Coalfield as well as Fayetteville and Oneida that could represent in the state game.
For the fifth straight year, I will offer my Spring Top 10 teams in each classification starting with Class 1A this week. My Top 10s are based on conversations with coaches in 1A across the state as well as returning personnel that the teams have back in 2015.
10. Coalfield Yellow Jackets
Last Year’s Record- 8-4, lost to Harriman in second round
Head Coach- Keith Henry (115-56 overall, 65-34 in eight years at Coalfield)
Offensive Coordinator- Jason Wilson
Defensive Coordinator- Jared Henry
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 4/4
Key Returnees- Parker McKinney (QB, Jr.), Tyler Keatley (WR/DB, Jr.), Jacob Coker (DL, Jr.), Jake Kilby (OL/DL, Jr.), Dean Daugherty (DL, Sr.), Drake Miklas (RB/LB, Jr.), Ethan Basler (RB, Sr.), Gabe Lowe (DL, Sr.), Andrew Moore (DB, Sr.), Johnny Carroll (OL/DL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Blake Hall (OL/LB), John Ervin (ATH/DB), Michael Ausburn (LB), Cameron Godwin (TE/LB), Jacob Stinnett (LB), Tyler Mullins (OL), Andrew Clore (RB), Nick McMahan (OL)
Players Looking To Step Up- Johnny Carroll. The senior offensive lineman will have big leadership shoes to fill as the Yellow Jackets will have three offensive linemen back and Carroll is the most seasoned linemen on the roster.
Spring Practice- May 15-25
Spring Optimism- Junior quarterback Parker McKinney is one of the most talented players in the state and Coalfield would have won more games if McKinney wasn’t injured last season. A healthy McKinney gives the Yellow Jackets hope for a successful 2016 season.
Spring Concerns- Offensive Line and Linebackers. The Yellow Jackets will have to replace three linemen and all four Linebackers in their 4-4 defense.
9. Huntingdon Mustangs
Last Year’s Record- 10-2, lost to Nashville Christian in second round
Head Coach- Eric Swenson (84-36 overall, 66-31 in eight years at Huntingdon)
Offensive Coordinator- Eric Swenson
Defensive Coordinator- Robbie Miller
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 5/7
Key Returnees-Dylan Johnson (QB/DB, Sr.), Michael Arnhold (LB, Sr.), Zach Dodson (DB, Sr.), Keeton Bailey (WR/DB, Sr.), Kade Pearson (LB, Jr.), Marvaughn McClerkin (LB, Jr.), Tyreese Mebane (DB/RB, Jr.), Cory Levitt (DT, Sr.), Chase Crider (OL/DL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Sadarius Hutcherson (OL/DL), Tristan Norwood (RB), Alex Beal (OL), Jayden Williams (RB/LB), Trevor Pritchard (OL), Dustin Wade (TE), Chase Jones (OL), Jonah Davis (DL), Austin Russell (LB), Dylan Gorth (LB)
Players Looking To Step Up- Everyone on the offense as the Mustangs are changing offenses from the old single wing to the I formation to take advantage of their athletes.
Spring Practice- Already completed
Spring Optimism- Huntingdon returns their play makers from last year’s ten win team which includes quarterback Dylan Johnson and running back Kade Pearson.
Spring Concerns- Spring practice was used to identify something that the Mustangs don’t have a lot of which is depth.
8. Peabody Golden Tide
Last Year’s Record- 11-3, lost to Nashville Christian in semifinals
Head Coach- Shane Jacobs (11-3 overall, 11-3 in one year at Peabody)
Offensive Coordinator- Jay Taylor
Defensive Coordinator- Jason Driggers
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 4/3
Key Returnees- Preston Fesmire (OL, Sr.), Collin White (OL, Sr.), Hayden Baugus (WR, Sr.), Ethan Richardson (TE/DL, Sr.), Mathew Martin (OL, Jr.), Brantley Whitwell (OL/DL, Jr.), Lavoskie Pirtle (OL/DE, Jr.), Khance McCurrie (WR,DE, Jr.), Justin Penn (RB/DB, Sr.), Jasper Albea (RB/DB, Soph.)
Key Losses- Kendrick Malone (QB), Zay Norman (OL), Octavius Lee (WR), Brandon Johnson (RB/LB), Reco Buchanon (LB), Keyvon Goodwin (WR), James Green (OL), Bryan Banks (LB), Nikeaus Ganaway (S)
Players Looking To Step Up- Justin Penn and Jasper Albea. Both will need to put up numbers in the offensive and defensive backfield for the Golden Tide to be successful in 2016.
Spring Practice- April 25 – May 12
Spring Optimism – Peabody returns several two way starters back on the offensive and defensive line which will be a good starting point for second year coach Shane Jacobs.
Spring Concerns- Last spring, The Golden Tide were coming off a 2A state title and had tons of skill position experience. Now according to Jacobs, they have the talent at the skill positions it’s just inexperienced.
7. South Pittsburg Pirates
Last Year’s Record- 9-4, lost to Columbia Academy in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Vic Grider (168-49 overall and in 17 years at South Pittsburg)
Offensive Coordinator- Vic Grider
Defensive Coordinator- Shawn Peek
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 9/9
Offense- Wing T
Key Returnees-Joseph Lilly (RB/FS, Sr.), Kyree Prior (RB/LB, Sr.), Sawyer Kelley (RB/LB, Jr.), Mason Fuqua (OL/DL, Jr.), Hogan Holland (QB, Sr.), Drew Daniels (OG/DE, Sr.), Garrett Raulston (RB/LB, Soph.), Cade Kennemore (WR/FS, Jr.)
Key Losses- Chase Blevins (RB/LB), Ethan Moss (OL/DL), Samuel Akins (WR/DB)
Players Looking To Step Up- Hogan Holland. The senior will take over the Pirate offense that returns nine starters, how far they go will depend on Holland.
Spring Practice- May 9-20
Spring Optimism- South Pittsburg returns 18 starters from last season’s nine win, quarterfinal team and with the entire offensive line returning it could be a special year in South Pittsburg.
Spring Concerns- Like a lot of 1A teams, depth will be a huge concern for Vic Grider’s team and spring practice will be used to find and cultivate depth across the board.
6. Wayne County Wildcats
Last Year’s Record- 12-1, lost to Nashville Christian in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Rick Rice (186-113 overall, 91-31 in ten years at Wayne County)
Offensive Coordinator- Cary Crews
Defensive Coordinator- Rick Rice
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 7/6
Offense- Split back veer
Key Returnees- Preston Rice (QB/DB, Sr.), Joe Birchett (RB/MLB, Sr.), Dawson Mathis (WR/DB, Sr.), Avery Davis (QB/WR/DB, Jr.) Blaine Bevis (WR/DB, Sr.), Cameron Ruddle (TE/DE, Sr.), Will Sinclair (OL/DL, Sr.), Jason Hill (LB/RB, Sr.), Brilee Harris (LB/RB, Jr.), Paxton Prince (OL/DL, Sr.), Colin Bratcher (OL/DL, Soph.), Connor Hatcher (DB/WR, Sr.)
Key Losses- Lucas Ray (RB/OLB), Logan Cole (RB), Camden Floyd (OL/LB) Makale Dixon (OL/DL) Dillon Horton (TE/DL) Jake Sinclair (K) Bradley Prater ILB/TE,Sr.
Players Looking To Step Up- Joe Birchett and Brilee Harris. Birchett, a senior and Harris a junior will have to step up on defense for the Wildcats to have another successful year in 2016.
Spring Practice- April 18-29
Spring Optimism- Wayne County returns some good offensive threats in 1A Mr. Football back finalist Preston Rice at quarterback as well as Dawson Mathis, Avery Davis and Blaine Bevis at wide receiver as they return seven starters on offense.
Spring Concerns- Spring practice will be used to identify who will play on the defensive line and linebacker as the Wildcats have to replace several in their front seven.
5. Columbia Academy Bulldogs
Last Year’s Record- 12-2, lost in semifinals to Greenback
Enrollment- 379.8 (211 multiplied by 1.8)
Head Coach- Charlie Lansdell (41-27 overall, 32-5 in three years at Columbia Academy)
Offensive Coordinator- Charlie Lansdell
Defensive Coordinator- Seth Anderson
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 8/8
Offense- Spread T
Key Returnees- Logan Neal (RB/LB, Sr.),Matt Fox (OL/DL, Sr.), Adam Whitley (OG/DL, Jr.), Timmy Riley (RB/DB, Jr.), Will Sargent (G/DL, Sr.), John Rhodes (G/DL, Sr.), Dylan Johnson (QB, Sr.), Dalton Bennett (C/DL, Jr.), Chilo Espinosa (RB/LB, Jr.), Blake Kleinke (WR/RB/DB, Jr.), Rush Lansdell (DB/WR, Soph.), Matt Petzelt (WB/DB, Jr.), Davis Cofer (TE/LB, Soph.), Josh Cook (LB/RB, Soph.) Chase Butterfield (WR/DB, Jr.), Marshall McKee (TE/DB, Sr.)
Key Losses- Hudson Primm (RB/LB), Taylor Thompson (WR/DB), Thomas Garrison (ATH), Nathan Williams (OT/DL), Billy Thurman (LB), Blake Mastalerz (LB), Jon Harris (DL/OL)
Players Looking To Step Up- Logan Neal and Timmy Riley. Neal, a senior and Riley, a junior are the leading returning rushers for the Bulldogs who return eight starters on offense.
Spring Practice- April 18-28
Spring Optimism – Returning quarterback Dylan Johnson and several offensive linemen is a great place to start for Columbia Academy as Johnson passed for almost 2,300 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Spring Concerns- Head coach Charlie Lansdell will have to find a replacement for Thomas Garrison who was a Mr. Football kicker finalist the last two seasons.
4. Greenback Cherokees
Last Year’s Record- 12-3, lost to Nashville Christian in state title game
Head Coach- Greg Ryan (12-3 overall and in one year at Greenback)
Offensive Coordinator- Greg Ryan
Defensive Coordinator- Brian Hanley
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 7/7
Key Returnees-Hunter Willis (QB/LB, Sr.), Tavin Kilpatrick (TE/DE, Sr.), Daniel Summers (OL/DE, Sr.), Bryce Hanley (LB/QB, Soph.), Timmy Russell (DL, Jr.), Kayne Roberts (RB/DB, Sr.), Reese Plemons (OL/DL, Soph.), Josh Silvey (OL/DT, Sr.), Tylor Jones (WR/DB, Sr.), Breeden Gilbert (LB/RB, Soph.), Dylan Caldwell (WR/DB, Jr.)
Key Losses- Jaden Harris (OG/LB), Ian Milsaps (OL/DL), Nathan Wampler (OL), Kevin Ogle (LB), Tucker Brown (DB), Michael Thacker (OL/DL)
Players Looking To Step Up- Sophomore offensive lineman Reese Plemons will step in to a starting role and will be looked upon to help stabilize the line.
Spring Practice- Mid May
Spring Optimism – The Cherokees return seven starters on offense and are loaded at the skill positions as they return all region performers in QB Hunter Willis, TE Tavin Kilpatrick, RB Kayne Roberts and WR Tylor Jones.
Spring Concerns- The Cherokees will have to replace three starters on the offensive line and finding those replacements will be crucial.
3. Union City Tornadoes
Last Year’s Record- 11-1, lost to Peabody in second round
Head Coach- Darren Bowling (185-85 overall, 78-23 in seven years at Union City)
Offensive Coordinator- Darren Bowling
Defensive Coordinator- Wade Maddox
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 5/4
Offense- Flex bone
Key Returnees-Thomas Barnes (OL, Sr.), Tucker Kennedy (FB/LB, Sr.), Jeremy Bumpus (DE, Sr.), Jaylen Crumble (LB, Sr.), Taeshawn Allen (DB, Jr.), Andrew Easley (DB, Jr.), Laz Scribner (QB, Sr.).
Key Losses- Case Cook (WR/QB/FS), Jamison Blackwell (LB), D’Carrious Stephens (RB/DB), Taj Reid (WR/LB), Brantley Clendenin (RB), DeAndre Weatherspoon (WR), Kimani Cawthon (OL/DL), Austin Kessel (OL)
Players Looking To Step Up- Laz Scribner. The senior will take over the Union City offense and his play will dictate how the Tornadoes fare this season.
Spring Practice- April 25- May 10
Spring Optimism – Coach Darren Bowling likes the way both sides of his lines compete and they will lead the way for the Tornadoes especially early in the season.
Spring Concerns- The back seven which is the linebackers and defensive backs will have to be upgraded as graduation hit those positions hard.
2. Dresden Lions
Last Year’s Record- 11-2, lost to Peabody in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Derek Rang (29-10 overall, 17-8 in two years at Dresden
Offensive Coordinator- Derek Rang
Defensive Coordinator- Justin Cruse
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 8/9
Key Returnees- Dresser Winn (QB, Sr.), Quincy McDonald (ATH, Sr.), Dylan Yates (RB/LB, Sr.), Austin Thomas (WR/DB, Sr.), Blase Cashion (DB/LB, Sr.), Brice Williams (WR, Sr.), Jordan Mitchell (LB, OL, Sr.), Jake Cantrell (OL/DL, Jr.), Kyle Hutcherson (WR/DB, Sr.), Fernando Serrano (OL/DL, Jr.), Devin Mansfield (OL/DL, Sr.), Ricco Taylor (DB, Jr.) Hudson Nanney (LB, Jr.) Dalton Meadows (OL/DL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Alex Warren (LB) Tyler Hansel (OL) Cody Roudenbush (OL)
Players Looking To Step Up- Ricco Taylor. The junior got a ton of playing time as a sophomore and is expected to play a major role on defense this season.
Spring Practice- May 15-27
Spring Optimism – The Lions return a ton of skill players starting with 1A Mr. Football Back winner Dresser Winn along with 1,000 yard rusher Dylan Yates along with dual threat athletes Quincy McDonald, Brice Williams and Austin Thomas.
Spring Concerns- Dresden will have to find depth along both the offensive and defensive lines and coach Derek Rang knows that finding good depth will play big role down the stretch.
1. Nashville Christian Eagles
Last Year’s Record- 14-1, beat Greenback in state title game
Enrollment- 345.6 (192 multiplied by 1.8)
Head Coach- Jeff Brothers (90-62 overall, 62-17 in six years at Nashville Christian)
Offensive Coordinator- Phillip Montgomery
Defensive Coordinator- John Crosby
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 1/5
Offense- Multiple I
Key Returnees- Slater Howard (DB, Sr.), Jack Elliot (OL/DL, Jr.), Warren Hanson (OL/DL, Jr.), Maverick Marlin (OL/DL, Jr.), Jesse Watson (WR/DB, Jr.), Daniel Watson (FB/LB, Jr.), Lelan Wilhoite (RB/LB, Jr.), Brant Lawless (DL, Jr.), Xavier Myers (RB/DB, Soph.), Joseph Dyer (OL/DL, Soph.), Noah Schurmann (OL/DL, Sr.), Bryce Pemberton (QB, Sr.)
Key Losses- Daniel Bituli (RB/LB), Nathan Hargrove (OL/LB), Gunnar Pfeffer (OL), Robert Brantley (OL), Kyle Tidwell (QB), Gregory Williams (FB/LB), Blake Barfield (RB/LB), Mareio McGraw (RB/DB), Bryce Collier (WR/DB), T.J Neal (WR/DB), Jaylon Jackson (TE/DL), Austin Shelton (DL), Carter Clark (LB), DuSean Sayles (DB), Stetson Marlin (K)
Players Looking To Step Up- Lelan Wilhoite. Wilhoite was the fourth leading rusher for the Eagles last season but will have the chance to be the main bell cow in 2016.
Spring Practice- Mid May
Spring Optimism – The Eagles will have several play makers back in the secondary and the defense should carry them early in the year while the offense gets going.
Spring Concerns- Coach Jeff Brothers will have a ton of holes to fill as Nashville Christian will have to replace ten starters on offense.
Five More Teams To Keep Your Eye On– Carver, Fayetteville, Gordonsville, Oneida, Trousdale County
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