By Tim Chambers
It’s was 1988 when Johnson County last hosted a home playoff game. It’s been talked about by fans, players and coaches for quite some time.
But take some advice from this old prognosticator who has been around since sliced bread. Put it on hold for now.
Your next game is the most important one. Win on Friday and it’s a repeat the following week.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why.
It’s a given that Elizabethton is the top seed in Region 1-3A. But second place is the prize that four teams are currently shooting for.
I compare it to being on the game show, “Let’s make a Deal.”
Behind door #1 is the big deal of the day. It contains a new car, trip to Paris and 4K spending money. That prize is waiting for Elizabethton.
The team that chooses door #2 gets a new Mustang, trip to Hawaii and 2K spending money. It’s not the big deal of the day but it’s not a bad one either. That goes to the second place finisher.
That’s the one that our Longhorns want.
So what about the two teams that finish third and fourth?
You just got zonked.
Trying to compete against either CAK or Alcoa in the first round is like trying to cut your grass with a snapper mower that has no blade and only two wheels. You’re not going anywhere and it’s an impossible task.
That will change in 2017.
CAK will move to Division II from its current Division I status. The TSSAA finally stepped up and put stipulations on the private schools that provided financial assistance to students. Schools can no longer give tuition breaks to parents of a student athlete, nor can they offer work study opportunities and still remain in Division I.
I applaud them for finally taking a stand and moving these schools out. It should have taken place many years ago.
By this time next week the Longhorns should know their fate for the next four years in athletics. The TSSAA is currently sifting through enrollment and will pair them in six divisions for football. Schedules will change and so will the travel.
My theory is nothing more than an educated guess based on the number of high schools across the state.
You can write it in stone that 6A will no longer have just 32 teams where all of them made the playoffs.
I believe the target number of schools per division will be 50.
If that happens, fans can expect to see the following based on the current enrollment numbers that were turned in weeks ago.
Johnson County would remain in 3A. Joining them would be West Greene, Chuckey-Doak and Unicoi County.
The target number of schools in 3A would be five to six. Cumberland Gap and Claiborne County appear to be the most likely choices. Rumor is that Northview Academy and Pigeon Forge would like to stay and play around the Knoxville area but you don’t always get what you want.
Elizabethton is headed to 4A regardless of where their numbers are. Their enrollment increase means they probably would have been sent there anyway but the move for them is simple.
The 3A schools simply don’t bring a crowd there other than Johnson County. The Cyclones will likely be paired with Sullivan East, Sullivan South, Sullivan Central, Greeneville, and Grainger County. Seymour could be added due to the large number of 4A schools in the Knoxville area.
Elizabethton could surprise us all and opt up to 5A. Being paired with Daniel Boone, Tennessee High, David Crockett, Volunteer and Morristown East would definitely be an attractive schedule providing Science Hill stays on the schedule.
Hampton and Happy Valley will remain in 2A. South Greene, Sullivan North and North Greene will join them. Cosby is likely to remain there and Cumberland Gap could because their numbers are straddling the fence for either 2A or 3A.
Cloudland and Unaka will log a ton of bus miles in the 1A ranks.
Everything should be set in stone this time next week.
Tim Chambers is the sports editor at The Tomahawk. You can contact him by email at [email protected] Please leave your phone number if you need a return call.