After making their third straight Class 1A state title game and winning their first title since 1987, Greenback is looking to repeat in 2018.
The Cherokees have a great chance to make a fourth consecutive title game as they return 20 starters from the state title team.
Greenback returns all 11 starters on defense and will only have to replace two starters off the offensive line on offense.
“They are so talented and it looks like everyone else in the state is playing for second place,” a Spring Top 10 head coach said.
Other teams looking to crash the Greenback party will be Cornersville who made the title game last season and return 16 starters and South Pittsburg which lost to Greenback in the Semifinals return 14 starters (7 on each side).
Two other West Tennessee teams in Huntingdon (14 starters returning) and Lake County (2017 Semifinalists, 19 starters returning) round out the 1A spring Top 5.
For the seventh 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 2018.
10. Moore County Raiders
Last Year’s Record- 8-4, lost to Huntingdon in second round
Head Coach-Jason Dobbs (11-11 in two years at Moore County)
Offensive Coordinator- Jason Dobbs
Defensive Coordinator- Manny Buchanan
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 14 (5 Off/9 Def)
Offense- Wing T
Key Returnees- Dylan Vassar (RB/DB, Sr.), Case Corder (OL/DL, Jr.), Ethan Sweeton (RB/LB, Sr.), Joseph Sons (RB/LB, Sr.), Dylan Knight (RB/LB, Sr.), Garrett Jennings (TE/DL, Sr.), Jacob Smith (OL/DL, Sr.), Tristan Whitaker (WR/DB, Sr.), Bryson Dobbs (TE/DL, Soph.), Dylan Scruggs (RB/DB, Soph.)
Key Losses- Matthew Schueller (QB/DB), Coy Cashion (RB/LB), Nate Love (QB/DB), Blayne Cashion (OL/DL), Hunter Solomon (OL/DL), Jess Smith (OL/DL), Ethan Holt (TE/LB)
Spring Practice- May 1-16
Spring Optimism – The Raiders improved dramatically under Dobbs in his second season and the future is bright with solid senior leadership and a good junior and sophomore class especially at running back and defensive back.
Spring Concerns- The top priority for the spring will be the search for a new signal caller after the graduation of last year’s starter in Matthew Schueller as senior Garrett Jennings and sophomores Dylan Scruggs, Brayden Cashion and Ryder Morey will compete for the job.
9. Gordonsville Tigers
Last Year’s Record- 7-5, lost to Whitwell in second round
Head Coach- Scott Clemons (0-0 in first year at Gordonsville)
Offensive Coordinator- Scott Clemons
Defensive Coordinator- Mac Petty
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 14 (8 Off/6 Def)
Offense- Pro I
Key Returnees- Adam Goolsby (QB, Sr.), Braxton Givens (RB, Sr.), Billy Bennett (OL, Sr.), Bill Washer (WR/FS, Sr.) Michael Hancock (OL/DL, Jr.) Tristen Corthell (OL/DL Jr.) Nathan Herd (LB Sr.), Scott Pitman (OL/DL, Sr.) Levi Haliburton (K/DB Sr.) Braxton Swicegood (RB/LB Sr.)
Key Losses- Tristan Pope (OL), Hunter Vaught (OL), Jayson West (OL), Dalton Stallings (FB/TE)
Spring Practice- April 1-May 18
Spring Optimism – Having Class 1A Mr. Football Semifinalist Braxton Givens (2,269 rushing, 23 TDs) returning is exciting for first year coach Scott Clemons and key leadership returns with 19 seniors.
Spring Concerns- The biggest concern for the Tigers in the spring will be figuring out their offensive line as they lost three starters from last season.
8. Coalfield Yellow Jackets
Last Year’s Record- 11-2, lost to Greenback in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Keith Henry (137-60 overall, 87-38 in 10 years at Coalfield)
Offensive Coordinator- Jason Wilson
Defensive Coordinator- Jared Henry
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 8 (3 Off/5 Def)
Key Returnees- Jonny Carroll (OL/DL, Sr.), Ashton Jones (RB/QB, Sr.), Anthony Foster (RB/LB, Jr.), Seth Lowe (RB/LB, Soph.), Dylan Stewart (OL/DL, Jr.), Peyton Mckinney (WR/DB, Jr.), Jonathan Woodward (RB/LB, Sr.), Micha Jackson (OL/DL, Jr.), Daniel Scharr (OL/LB, Jr.), Austin Hensley (OL/LB, Jr.), Keigan White (TE/LB, Sr.)
Key Losses- Parker McKinney (QB), Tyler Keathley (WR/DB), Jacob Coker (DL), Jake Kilby (OL/DL), Drake Miklas (RB/LB), Michael Lowe (WR/DB), Logan Kelly (LB)
Spring Practice- Undecided at press time
Spring Optimism- Although they lost some very good players last season, the Yellow Jackets return good athletes at the skill positions including Ashton Jones, Anthony Foster, Seth Lowe and Peyton McKinney.
Spring Concerns- The Yellow Jackets will have to arebuild both the offensive and defensive lines as well as find a quarterback as Ashton Jones, Lance Byrd, Dawson Nitzschke, and Landon Lowe will get a look at the position.
7. Dresden Lions
Last Year’s Record- 10-2, lost to Hillcrest in second round
Head Coach- Levi Estes (10-2 in one year at Dresden)
Offensive Coordinator- Bert Snow
Defensive Coordinator- Levi Estes
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 11 (5 Off/6 Def)
Key Returnees- Tyrone Jones (ATH, Sr.), Quea Taylor (LB, Jr.), Drake Yates (WR/DB, Sr.), Wes Sawyers (OL/DL, Jr.), Trevor Moore (LB, Soph.), Dyllan Brown (DL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Jake Cantrell (OL/DL), Fernando Serrano (OL/DL), Ricco Taylor (RB/DB), Hudson Nanney (LB), Braden Cooper (OL/DL), Seth Farris (OL), Zech Lewis (WR/DB), Wade Moran (TE/LB)
Spring Practice- April 30-May 11th
Spring Optimism-Second year head coach Levi Estes heads into spring practice with several athletes at the skill positions including Drake Yates and Tyrone Jones.
Spring Concerns- The Lions will have to retool both sides of their line and look for Dyllan Brown and Wes Sawyers to lead that resurgence.
6. Whitwell Tigers
Last Year’s Record- 11-2, lost to South Pittsburg in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Randall Boldin (11-2 in one year at Whitwell)
Co-Offensive Coordinators- Randall Boldin and Brandon McElroy
Co-Defensive Coordinators- Josh Coley
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 11 (6 Off/5 Def)
Key Returnees- Hudson Petty (RB/DB, Sr.), Josh Wingo (RB/LB, Sr.), Will Carter (OL/DL, Sr.), Thunder Roberts (LB/TE, Sr.), Warner Ashworth (QB/DE, Sr.) Tanner Stewart (WR/ DB, Sr.) Aaron Worley (OL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Dawson Holloway (QB), Trace Condra (RB/LB), Thomas Argo (OL/DL), Kyle Antal(OL/DT), Garrett Shrum (TE/DE), Dillan Burns (DB), Austin Nunley (K/DE), Travis Nolan (OL/DL)
Spring Practice- May 4-17
Spring Optimism – The Tigers will be very good on offense especially in the backfield as they return running backs Hudson Petty and Josh Wingo as well as Warner Ashworth at quarterback.
Spring Concerns- Whitwell will have to find starters and depth on both sides of the offensive and defensive lines.
5. Lake County Falcons
Last Year’s Record- 11-3, lost to Cornersville in Semifinals
Head Coach- Josh Puckett (34-24 in five years at Lake County)
Offensive Coordinator- Josh Puckett
Defensive Coordinator- John Dryden
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 19 (10 Off/9 Def)
Key Returnees- Dezmon Johnson (RB/SS, Sr.), Campbell Puckett (LB/TE, Jr.), Jordan Runions (LB/OL, Sr.), Jakyrean Higgins (DL/OL, Sr.), Peyton Kelly (DL/OL, Sr.), Shearon Blevins (FS/WR, Sr.), Frankie Mays (DL/OL, Jr.), Izaiah Matheny (CB/WR, Jr.), Jamarion Higgins (DL/OL, Jr.), Larry Tubbs (LB/RB, Jr.), Tanner Snyder (LB/QB, Jr.), Justin Morgan (CB/WR, Soph.)
Key Losses-James Nobles (LB/FB), Angel Rodriguez (K)
Spring Practice- Already Completed
Spring Optimism – The return of explosive running back Dezmon Johnson (2,552, 39 TDs) will make the Falcons running game dangerous in 2018. Lake County will also field an experienced team as several starters have been playing big minutes since their freshman year.
Spring Concerns- Head coach Josh Puckett will spend the spring trying to upgrade the Falcon passing game. A better passing game will take pressure off the running game and allow for better running lanes for Johnson.
4. Huntingdon Mustangs
Last Year’s Record- 12-1, lost to Cornersville in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Eric Swenson (104-40 overall, 86-35 in 10 years at Huntingdon)
Offensive Coordinator- Eric Swenson
Defensive Coordinator- Robbie Miller
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 14 (6 Off/8 Def)
Offense- Wing T
Key Returnees- Brandon Lawton (RB, Jr.), DeQuan Robinson (RB, Jr.), Hunter Ensley (QB/RB, Jr.), Dallas Willis (RB, Sr.), Austin Avery (LB, Sr.), Joseph Richardson (DE, Sr.), Damion Byrd (OL/DL, Sr.), Konner Pearson (LB, Jr.)
Key Losses- Kade Pearson (QB/LB), Tyrese Mebane (RB/DB)
Spring Practice- Already Completed
Spring Optimism- The Mustangs have several returnees at running back including senior Dallas Willis, juniors Brandon Lawton, DeQuan Robinson and Hunter Ensley at quarterback. The defense should be stout again as four key tacklers return in Ensley (87 tackles at safety) and linebackers Austin Avery (83 tackles), Konner Pearson (83) and Willis (82).
Spring Concerns- Although the Mustangs have several running backs that can carry the mail, coach Eric Swenson wants to create depth there something they didn’t have last season.
3. South Pittsburg Pirates
Last Year’s Record- 13-1, lost to Greenback in Semifinals
Head Coach- Vic Grider (193-52 overall, 34-7 in three years at South Pittsburg)
Offensive Coordinator- Vic Grider
Defensive Coordinator- Shawn Peek
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 14 (7 Off/7 Def)
Offense- Wing T
Key Returnees- Garrett Raulston (RB/LB, Sr.), Jaylyn Hubbard (QB, Jr.), Ronto Tipton (RB, Jr.), Grayson Lawson (OL, Sr.), Dakota Blevins (OL/DL, Jr.), Jabron Hale (DL, Sr.), Blaine Pittman (DL, Jr.)
Key Losses- Sawyer Kelley (RB/LB), Mason Fuqua (OL/LB), Cade Kennemore (WR/FS), E.J. Cagle (OL), Hayden Branham (OL/DL), Franklin Russell (DL)
Spring Practice- May 3-16
Spring Optimism- The Pirates return a solid nucleus along both sides of the line which will be a big strength with the return of Mr. Football Semifinalist Garrett Raulston and junior Ronto Tipton at running back.
Spring Concerns- It seems like the constant worry of coach Vic Grider every season is depth as the Pirates will try to stay healthy and build depth.
2. Cornersville Bulldogs
Last Year’s Record- 13-2, lost to Greenback in Blue Cross Bowl
Head Coach- Gerard Randolph (21-15 in three years at Cornersville)
Offensive Coordinator- TBA
Defensive Coordinator- Gerard Randolph
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 16 (8 Off/8 Def)
Key Returnees- Eli Woodard (QB/FS, Sr.), Trenten Warren (RB/LB, Sr.), Cameron Whitaker (RB/WR/SS, Sr.), C.J Coble (OL/LB, Sr.), Peyton Finch (TE/LB, Sr.), Devin Baus (OL/FB/LB, Sr.), Blake Pickett (WR/DB, Sr.), Alex Webster (OL/DL, Sr.), Houston Williams (OL/DL, Jr.), Ryan Prosser (WR, Sr.), Payton Cooper (WR/FS, Sr.), Clayton Mitchell (OL, Sr.), Garrett Alder (LB, Soph.), Henlee Mitchell (QB, Sr.), Ethan Courtemanche (OLB/WR, Sr.), Jacob Brooks (OL/LB, Sr.), Travis Robinson (WR/DB, Sr.), Wes Calahan (RB/SS, Jr.), Cameron Estes (WR/LB, Jr.), Payton Tucker (OL/DL, Jr.), Michael Bungay (OL/DL, Jr.), Devon Massengill (OL/LB, Jr.), Brady Calahan (RB/OLB, Soph.), Tracy Wood (RB/LB, Soph.), Alex Hillard (RB/DB, Soph.)
Key Losses-Kolbe McMahon (RB/WR/), Adam Qualls (OL/DE), Brice Dunkleman (OL/DL), Brock Powers (OL/DL), Darien Bush (RB/DB, Transferred to Marshall County)
Spring Practice- May 1-18
Spring Optimism – The Bulldogs return a plethora of talent in the backfield as Eli Woodard, Cameron Whitaker and Trenten Warren will try to return Cornersville to the state title game.
Spring Concerns- Cornersville will have to replace three starters on the offensive line, so finding starters and developing depth will be at the top of the spring practice list.
1. Greenback Cherokees
Last Year’s Record- 13-1, Class 1A State Champions
Head Coach- Greg Ryan (39-5 in three years at Greenback)
Offensive Coordinator- Greg Ryan
Defensive Coordinator- Brian Hanley
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 20 (9 Off/11 Def)
Key Returnees- Bryce Hanley (LB/QB, Sr.), Reese Plemons (OL/DL, Sr.), Breeden Gilbert (LB/RB, Sr.), Josh Edwards (RB, Sr.), Seth Riddle (RB,/DB, Sr.), Cody Alexander (DE, Sr.), Derrell Bailey (OL/DL, Jr.), Colton Alexander (OL, Soph), Chase Harril (DE, Sr.), Tyler Kuhn (DL, Sr.), Blake Morton (WR/DB, Sr.), Holden Willis (WR/FS, Jr.), Cole Riddle (WR/SS, Sr.), Creed Ramsey (K, Sr.)
Key Losses- Kaleb Russell (LB), Bobby Woods (OL), Cameron Chandler (OL), Timmy Russell (DE)
Spring Practice- Doesn’t have spring practice
Spring Optimism- The Cherokees return 20 starters including all 11 on defense as they will try to make their third straight 1A title game and want to repeat as champions.
Spring Concerns- The Cherokees will need to find two starters on the offensive line and coach Greg Ryan would also like to find depth there as well.
Six More Teams To Keep Your Eye On In Alphabetical Order- Clay County, Cloudland, Hillcrest, Jo Byrns, Mt. Pleasant and Wayne County
Contact Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at Examine_Stew