Donovan Stewart’s Class 5A Spring Top 10

Donovan Stewart’s Class 5A Spring Top 10

Since the TSSAA expanded to six classifications in Division I in 2009, only Class 5A has not had a back to back state champion.

Seven different schools have won state titles in 5A with Beech (2009, 2012) and Henry County (2011, 2013) winning multiple titles but not back to back.

Other 5A state champions are Columbia (2010), Knoxville West (2014), Independence (2015), Farragut (2016) and Knoxville Catholic (2017).

The other repeat state champions in the other Division I classifications are as follows: Union City in 1A (2013 and 2014), Friendship Christian in 2A (2011 and 2012), Alcoa in 3A (2009 and 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2017), CAK in 3A (2011 and 2012), Fulton in 4A (2012, 2013 and 2014) and Maryville in 6A (2010 and 2011, 2013 and 2014).

So Catholic has the monumental task to trying to repeat in 5A but led by big and nasty offensive and defensive lines, don’t count out the Fighting Irish.

Rounding out the Class 5A spring Top 10 are Fulton (No.2), Henry County at No. 3, Rhea County at No. 4 and Beech No. .

For the seventh straight year, I will offer my Spring Top 10 teams in each classification as Class 5A will be looked at this week.

My Top 10s are based on conversations with coaches in 5A across the state as well as returning personnel that the teams have back in 2018.


10. Hillsboro Burros
Last Year’s Record- 7-5, lost to Beech in second round
Head Coach- Maurice Fitzgerald (131-87 overall, 7-5 in one year at Hillsboro)
Offensive Coordinator- Maurice Fitzgerald
Defensive Coordinator- Anthony Brown
Region- 6-5A
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 12 (6 Off/6 Def)
Offense- Pro
Defense- 4-2-5
Key Returnees- Joseph Honeysucker (DE/OLB, Sr.), Jamaal Thompson (SS, Sr.), Therone Orr (DT, Sr.), Harold Jemison (RB/LB, Sr.), Gyasi Mattison (ATH, Sr.), Avont Burrus(ATH, Jr.), Darrian Williams (ATH, Sr.), Decorian Bowers (OL, Jr.), Jay Henderson (DT, Sr.)

Key Losses- Javonte Dean Wiggins (LB), Trevon Smith (OL), T.J. Neal (RB), Jeremiah Edwards (ATH), Trevon Brashers (OL), Kevon Williams (OL), Tre Dickerson (WR), Deleno Howard (OL), Torrance Anthony (NT), Rayveyon Thomas (LB), Barry Johnson (DB)
Spring Practice- May 1-10
Spring Optimism- The Burros should be better in Maurice Fitzgerald’s second year at Hillsboro led by a big and talented senior class
Spring Concerns- The Hillsboro roster is not very big, so depth at all positions is essential for the Burros



9. Knoxville West Rebels
Last Year’s Record- 7-5, lost to Oak Ridge in second round
Head Coach- Lamar Brown (121-56 overall, 7-5 in one year at West)
Offensive Coordinator- Chris Thacker
Defensive Coordinator- Barron Chandler
Region- 3-5A
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 13 (4 Off/9 Def)
Offense- Power Spread
Defense- 3-4
Key Returnees- William Savoy (LB, Sr.), Ben Skvara (LB, Sr.), Jackson Snodgrass (OL/LB, Sr.), Demarcus Nelson (S/LB, Sr.), Will Eggleston (WR, Sr.), Xavier Davis (DB, Sr.), Tre Everson (DB, Sr.), Cyrus Howell (DE, Sr.), Drew Francis (LB, Jr.), Tyrece Edwards (DE, Jr.), Tyrell Ragland (OL, Jr.), Sebatian Latorre (P, Jr.)
Key Losses- Zack Stokes (DL), Juan Davis (DB), Cal Cook (LB) Drake Peer (QB), Reid Britton (OL), Daniel Ledbetter (WR), Trariq Hardin (RB), Logan Bowers (K)
Spring Practice- April 30-May 17
Spring Optimism- The Rebels will again call on their defense to be the calling crd as they return nine starters led by linebacker Drew Francis
Spring Concerns- West will try to find some talented guys on offense as they only return four starters to that side of the ball



8. South Doyle Cherokees
Last Year’s Record- 7-6, lost to Knoxville Central in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Clark Duncan (169-131 overall, 48-57 in nine years at South Doyle)
Offensive Coordinator- Rusty Partin
Defensive Coordinator- Jay Whinery
Region- 2-5A
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 11 (6 Off/5 Def)
Offense- Spread
Defense- 3-4
Key Returnees- Ton’Quez Ball (WR/DB, Sr.), Elijah Young (RB/DB, Jr.), Mason Brang (QB, Jr.), Jordun Wilson (OL/DL, Jr.), Arron Lee (OL/DL, Sr.), Nate Adebayo (RB/DB, Jr.), Nate Barrier (TE/LB, Jr.), David Potter (OL/DL, Jr.), Santana Curtis (WR/DB, Jr.), Farrell Scott (TE/LB, Sr.), Cody Richards (TE/LB, Jr.), Noah Meyers (RB/LB, Soph.), Terrell Brown (WR/LB, Soph.)
Key Losses- Austin Shuler (WR/DB), Seandre Scott (WR/DB), Michael Redding (OL/DL), Wes Holt (TE/LB), Bradley Sisler (TE/LB), Quan’tre Mills (RB/LB), Gus McAnally (WR/DB), Austin Morse (K/P)
Spring Practice- April 23-May 11
Spring Optimism- South Doyle has a good nucleus returning on offense led by senior wide receiver Ton’Quez Ball and juniors Elijah Young (RB) and Mason Brang at quarterback
Spring Concerns- The Cherokees will have to rebuild both the offensive and defensive lines



7. Oak Ridge Wildcats
Last Year’s Record- 10-3, lost to Knox. Catholic in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Joe Gaddis (305-125 overall, 47-13 in five years at Oak Ridge)
Offensive Coordinator- Brian Wyatt
Defensive Coordinator- Jeff Minor
Region- 3-5A
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 13 (6 Off/7 Def)
Offense- Spread Option
Defense- 3-4
Key Returnees- Jeremy Mitchell (LB/WR, Sr.), Caelan Thompson (RB/DB, Sr.), Jordan Graham (RB/DB, Sr.), Kai’Reese Pendergrass (WR/DB, Sr.), Isaiah Johnson (WR/DB, Jr.), Tyrell Romano (RB/LB, Jr.), Jack Replogle (WR/DB, Jr.), Jacob Adams (TE/LB, Jr.), TJ Johnson (OL/DE, Sr.), Samuel Hensley (DL/OL, Jr.), Tyler Galloway (OL/DL, Jr.)
Key Losses- Cobe Angel (LB), Isaac Quick (P), Adarius Simpson (DB), Johnny Stewart (QB), Caleb Martin (WR/DB), Carson McGhee (K/P), Jack Borchers (DL), Adarius Cox (OL), Ramar Hawkins (OL)
Spring Practice- April 30 – May 18
Spring Optimism- The Wildcats have some very good skill players returning on offense led by running back Jordan Graham
Spring Concerns- Oak Ridge will use the spring to address the need at quarterback, the offensive line and on special teams at kicker and punter



6. Clarksville Northeast Eagles
Last Year’s Record- 7-4, lost to Southwind in first round
Head Coach- Chad Watson (7-4 in one year at NE)
Offensive Coordinator- Paul Frazier
Defensive Coordinator- Brandon Clark
Region- 7-5A
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 16 (7 Off/9 Def)
Offense- Air Raid
Defense- 4-3
Key Returnees- Heath Williams (QB, Sr.),Rakeem Savusa (OL/DL, Sr.) Jimmy Wendel (OL/DL, Sr.) Tyrique Freeman (RB/LB, Sr.), Devon Dillehay (WR/LB, Sr.), Chris Taylor (WR, Sr.), Tomario Vereen (WR, Jr.), Cashton Haffery (WR/DB, Sr.), Fred Orr (RB/DB, Sr., Rossview Transfer), Isaiah Foy (LB, Sr.), Lujan Lewis (DB, Sr.), Javian Browder (RB/DB, Jr.), Josh Emmons (WR/DB, Sr.)
Key Losses- Quinton Cross (WR), Gus Antoine Jr. (WR), Drequan Murphy (DB), Jailyn Ferguson (DB), Cameron Kittling (LB)
Spring Practice- April 30- May 18
Spring Optimism- The Eagles return seven starters on offense including quarterback Heath Williams (2,372 passing yards, 29 TDs), running back Tyrique Freeman (1,098 rushing, 10 TDs) and a star transfer in running back Fred Orr who ran for 1,420 yards and scored 21 touchdowns at Rossview last season
Spring Concerns- Northeast will have to find two starters in the secondary as they bring nine starters back on defense



5. Beech Buccaneers
Last Year’s Record- 14-1, lost to Knox. Catholic in 5A title game
Head Coach- Anthony Crabtree (116-45 in 13 years at Beech)
Offensive Coordinator- Anthony Crabtree
Defensive Coordinator- Bill Alexander
Region- 6-5A
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 6 (3 Off/3 Def)
Offense- Multiple I
Defense- 50
Key Returnees- Aaron Foxx (RB/LB, Sr.), Josh Cole (QB, Jr.), Davis Ward (TE, Sr.), Hayden Sloan (OL, Jr.), Delaney Williams (DE, Jr.), Alex Metcalf (DE, Jr.), Kemontta Coleman (RB/DB, Sr.), Will Crabtree (FB/LB/P, Jr.), Josh Iacob (OL, Sr.), Keyon Dillon (LB, Sr.), Eric McMiller (LB, Sr.), Clark Cameron (LB, Sr.), Brandon Segura (DB, Jr.), Jackson Dolan (S, Jr.), Brian Colon (S, Jr.), Cory Edwards (K, Jr.)
Key Losses- Nelson Smith (QB), Ty Dean (WR/DB), Heath Crabtree (FB/LB), Chaz Williamson (RB/LB), Ty Moore (TE/LB), Jahmall Robinson (RB/DB), Garrett Butler (S), John Parker Carroll (LB), Cole Pulley (OL/DL), Jordan Adams (OL/DL) Alex Webb (OL/DL), Eric Hogan (WR/DB), Dalton Hoskins (OT), Kaemon Dunlap (RB)
Spring Practice- Already finished spring practice
Spring Optimism- The Buccaneers only return three starters to each side of the ball but they will look to a big class of 31 juniors mixed in with a solid senior class will have Beech in contention again in 2018
Spring Concerns- Beech used spring practice to identify their offensive and defensive lines which were both wiped out due to graduation




4. Rhea County Golden Eagles
Last Year’s Record- 5-6, lost to Knoxville West in first round
Head Coach- Mark Pemberton (210-84 overall, 47-16 in five years at Rhea County)
Offensive Coordinator- Mark Pemberton
Defensive Coordinator- Taylor Ownbey
Region- 4-5A
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 12 (6 Off/6 Def)
Offense- Wing T
Defense- 3-4
Key Returnees- Chandler Kaylor (TE/LB, Sr.), Zack Pemberton (QB, Sr.), Aubrey Smith (WR/DB, Sr.), Payton Dugger (OL/DL, Sr.), Colton Edwards (OL/DL, Sr.), Kaleb Laws (TE, Sr.), Brady Rice (WR/DB, Sr.), Garrett Smith (OL/DL, Sr.), Gavin Morrison (RB/LB, Sr.), Patrick Williams (OL/DL, Sr.), Bradley Goodwin (RB/LB, Jr.), Jackson Langley (RB/LB, Jr.), Nicholas Sherrill (OL, Jr.), Jacob Stringfellow (OL, Jr.)
Key Losses- Christian Simon (RB/DB), Brandon Hunt (RB/LB), A.J. Velasco (RB/DB), Reece Cooley (WR/DB), Jay Graham (RB/LB), Bradley Evans (DL/TE), Chase Suttles (RB/LB)
Spring Practice- May 1-12
Spring Optimism- The Golden Eagles bring back six starters on each side of the ball led by senior quarterback Zack Pemberton and running back Gavin Morrison on offense and linebacker Chandler Kaylor on defense
Spring Concerns- Rhea County will have to find depth at linebacker and in the secondary




3. Henry County Patriots
Last Year’s Record- 9-4, lost to Brighton to Quarterfinals
Head Coach- James Counce (25-12 in three years at Henry County)
Offensive Coordinator- Barry Baker
Defensive Coordinator- John Harrison
Region- 7-5A
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 14 (5 Off/9 Def)
Offense- Pro
Defense- 3-4
Key Returnees- Drew James (OL/DL, Sr.), Nick Metzinger (OL/DL, Sr.), Donavon Teague (FB, Sr.), Jaylen Foster (RB/DB, Jr.), Paxton Pierpoint (S, Sr.), Will Parrish (QB, Sr.), Donyah Teague (DL/FB, Sr.), Samari Rack (DL/TE, Sr.), Ethan Thompson (WR/DB, Sr.), Alex Coffield (LB, Sr.), Tavion Kendley (DB/WR, Sr.), Matthew Bradham (DB, Sr.), Joe Travis (RB/DB, Jr.), Davey Harrod (TE/DL, Jr.), Jalen Herring (DB/LB, Jr.)
Key Losses- Savon Stewart (QB/WR), Caleb McCutcheon (RB), Dalton Dyer (LB), Nathanial Owens (OL), Sam Murphey (TE), Lukas Reynolds (RB), Gray Gardner (QB), Zach Hutson (OL), Caleb Orr (TE), Robbie Markum (DE), Seven Stewart (S), Isaiah Johnson (DL),
Spring Practice- Already finished spring practice
Spring Optimism- The Henry County calling card will be the defense as they return nine starters and should be stout in the defensive line and the secondary as the Patriots return their top five tacklers from a year ago as they combined for 40 tackles for a loss
Spring Concerns- The Patriots used spring practice to solidify their backfield and tight end positions on offense




2. Fulton Falcons
Last Year’s Record- 9-3, lost to Knox. Catholic in second round
Head Coach- Rob Black (78-17 in seven years at Fulton)
Offensive Coordinator- Rob Black
Co-Defensive Coordinator- Jason Harbison and Jeff McMillan
Region- 3-5A
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 13 (6 Off/7 Def)
Offense- Multiple Spread
Defense- 3-4
Key Returnees- Xavier Malone (QB, Sr.), JaShaun Fenderson (WR/DB, Sr.), Deshawn Page (FB/LB, Sr.), Deshaun McKinney (WR/DB, Sr.), Robquan Thomas (RB/LB, Sr.), J’Coryan Anderson (RB/LB, Sr.), Michael Hobby (TE/LB, Sr.), Shamond Morelan (DB/S, Sr.), Trevaughn Clark (OL/DE, Sr.), Jeryn Cole (OL/DL, Sr.), Keithon Foster (LB/TE, Sr.), Kenny Buley (DB/WR, Sr.), Kevin Johnson (DB/WR, Sr.), Amir Johnson (WR/FS, Sr.), Demarcus Cash (OL/DE, Jr.), Dearius Farmer (OL/DE, Jr.), James Coleman (OL/DL, Jr.), Joshua Jones (DB/WR, Jr.)
Key Losses- Dorian Williamson (RB), Jaquez Booker (DB), James Davis (RB), Coryean Davis (WR/DB), Joey Smith (WR/DB)
Spring Practice- May 7-18
Spring Optimism- The Falcons bring back several playmakers on offense led by a rare four year starter Xavier Malone (2,370 passing yards and 21 TDs) at quarterback, Fulton top three tacklers are back at linebacker as well led by Robquan Thomas (100 tackles), Deshawn Page (70 tackles) and J’Coryan Anderson (64 tackles)
Spring Concerns- Depth along the offensive line is a major concern for coach Rob Black heading into spring practice




1. Knoxville Catholic Fighting Irish
Last Year’s Record- 12-3, defeated Beech for 5A state title
Head Coach- Steve Matthews (63-26 overall, 53-13 in five years at Catholic)
Offensive Coordinator- Steve Matthews
Co-Defensive Coordinators- Kevin Lane and Kris White
Region- 4-5A
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 6 (3 Off/3 Def)
Offense- Multiple
Defense- 4-3
Key Returnees- Bryn Tucker (OL/DL, Jr.), Cooper Mays (OL/DL, Jr.), Taylor Shannon (WR/DB, Jr.), Jack Jancek (QB/DB, Jr.), Xavier Story (RB/LB, Sr.), Stiles Moore (TE/DL, Jr.), Adam Jones (WR/DB, Sr.), Ray Thompson (WR/DB, Sr.), Drew Gregg (QB/DB, Soph.), Cooper Whitt (RB/DB, Sr.), Cody Duncan (RB/LB, Jr.), Paxton Robertson (K/LB, Jr.), Alec Bindner (OL/DL, Sr.), Teagan Flomberg (OL/DL, Jr.), Bryce Nicely (OL/DL, Jr.), Max Suchomski (K, Sr.)
Key Losses- Cade Mays (OL), Josh Brown (RB), Cameron Blakely (WR), Joe Fluker (LB/WR), Jack Sompayrac (QB), D.J. Mitchell (DB), Jake Mahoney (LB), L.B. Liverman (DL), DaShon Bussell (WR)
Spring Practice- May 2-15
Spring Optimism- The Fighting Irish offensive line is massive up front led by two of the best juniors in the country in Bryn Tucker and Cooper Mays and add in another junior in Bryce Nicely and Catholic should mash opposing defensive lines on a weekly basis
Spring Concerns- The biggest questions for Catholic during spring practice will be to find playmakers at both wide receiver and running backs as well as starters at linebacker on defense



Six More Teams To Keep Your Eye On In Alphabetical Order- Brighton, Campbell County, Knoxville Central, Ridgeway, Shelbyville and Summit

Contact Donovan at and follow him on Twitter at Examine_Stew

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