Division II-AA is the second of three Division II classifications and it has a interesting look to it.
Of the 19 schools that will participate in the classification as ten schools in Knoxville Webb, BGA, ECS, FACS, FRA, Harding Academy, Lausanne, Northpoint Christian, St. George’s and USJ all will play in Division II-AA this year, after playing in Division II-A in 2016.
Also Division II-AA will have nine private schools that played in Division I last season as Boyd Buchanan, Grace Christian Academy and Silverdale all played in Class 2A, while CAK, Chattanooga Christian, CPA, Goodpasture and Notre Dame played in 3A and Lipscomb Academy was in 4A in 2016.
So with all that movement, Division II-AA definitely has a new look and feel to it.
The last five seasons I have offered my spring Top 5 but in the spirit of change since Division II-AA has a new look, so does my spring Top list as I will expand one spot and offer my Division II-AA top 6.
My Top 6s are based on conversations with coaches in Division II-AA across the state as well as returning personnel that the teams have back in 2017.
6. Goodpasture Cougars
Last Year’s Record- 10-3, lost to CPA in Class 3A Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Jerry Joslin (147-116 overall, 10-3 in one year at Goodpasture)
Offensive Coordinator- Marc Purkey
Defensive Coordinator- Andy McWilliams
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 10 (7 Off/3 Def)
Offense- Spread Power
Key Returnees- Julius Elders (RB, Jr.), Dylan Brooks (QB, Jr.), Taylor Lazenby (OL, Jr.), Cullen Morrow (OL, Sr.), Sam McAuley (LB, Jr.), Ammon Turner (DB, Jr.), Kris Hunt (OL, Sr.), Ammon Turner (DE/WR, Jr.), Hunter Scurlock (WR, Jr.), Seth Hester (WR, Sr.)
Key Losses- Jacob Crocker (WR), Gabe Wisner (DL/OL), Wyatt Blessing (DE/TE), Cameron Tompkins (FB), Chase Scarboro (DB), Kevon Venson (LB), Kody Crider (FB) Jermaine Mason (WR)
Players Looking To Step Up- Julius Elders. The junior rushed for 502 yards as a sophomore in a limited role, now that he will get more carries, expect his rushing numbers to go up.
Spring Practice- Spring Practice completed
Spring Optimism- The Cougars return seven starters on offense led by junior quarterback Dylan Brooks who passed for 1,365 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Spring Concerns- Goodpasture will have to find eight starters on the defensive side of the ball and will have to find starters especially at linebacker.
5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Last Year’s Record- 7-5, lost to Sequatchie County in Class 2A second round
Head Coach- Charles Fant (47-18 in five years at Notre Dame)
Offensive Coordinator- Charles Fant
Defensive Coordinator- Curt Jones
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 17 (8 Off/9 Def)
Offense- Air Raid
Key Returnees- Justyn Baker (WR, Sr.), Akil Sledge (RB, Sr.), Cameron Wynn (WR/DB, Jr., Tennessee commitment), Sam Stovall (OL/DL, Sr., Western Kentucky commitment), Kolby McGowen (OL/DL, Sr.), Scooby Williams (LB/DE, Sr.), Jalen Derrick (DL, Sr.), Nolan Corbitt (TE / LS, Sr.), Adam Marini (LB/DE, Sr.), Aeneas Jackson (LB, Sr.), Caleb Edwards (LB/ SS, Sr.), Alex Flemister (LB, Jr.), Trea Johnson (SS, Jr.), Monroe Beard (LB, Jr.), Tarik Nelson (DB, Jr.), Daniel Anderson (LB, Soph.), Landon Allen (QB, Soph.), Jeffrey Watkins (RB, Soph.), Jacob Brigman (OL/DT, Soph.)
Key Losses- Tommy Kulik (OG), Kobe Bragg (OL), Jake Backer (WR), Andrew Banks (WR/DB), Patrick Johnson (TE/LB), Calvin Sims (S),
Players Looking To Step Up- Landon Allen. Allen threw 15 passes including two for touchdowns in two games of action as a freshman and now will be the starter in the Fighting Irish new “Air Raid” offense.
Spring Practice- May 8th-19th
Spring Optimism- Notre Dame has talented playmakers on offense starting with Tennessee commitment Cameron Wynn and Justyn Baker at wide receiver with Akil Sledge at running back.
Spring Concerns- Notre Dame will transition to the “Air Raid” offense from the pistol and to the 4-3 from the 3-4 on defense as well as getting used to a new defensive coordinator in Curt Jones.
4. Battle Ground Academy Wildcats
Last Year’s Record- 8-4, lost to USJ in Division II-A Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Roc Batten (42-26 in six years at BGA)
Offensive Coordinator- Zach Schneider
Defensive Coordinator- Roc Batten
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 17 (9 Off/8 Def)
Offense- Multiple Spread
Key Returnees – Kel Hawkins (WR/DB, Sr.), Austin Hardiman (OL/DL, Sr.), Jack Jewell (WR/DB, Sr.), Ollie Reese (WR/DB, Sr.), Drew Martin (QB, Sr.), Cannon Worth (OL/DL, Sr.), Conner Mitchell (DB/WR, Sr.) Robbie Kirkpatrick (OL/DL, Sr.), Mathew Ligon (RB/LB, Sr.), Brandon Jackson (LB/TE, Sr.) Eli Mayberry (OL/DL, Jr.), Brock Baldwin (OL/DL, Jr.), Jaylen Frierson (RB/LB, Jr.), Tiy Reed (WR/DB, Jr.), Teddy Holloway (OL/LB, Jr.), Kenneth Rawls (OL/DL, Jr.), Wyatt Greenewalt (OL/DL, Jr.), Evan Gaunt (DE/TE, Jr.), Briston Bennett (RB/DB, Soph.), Garnett Hollis (WR/DB, Soph.)
Key Losses- Joseph Altshuler (OL/DL), Joseph Pasley (RB/DB), Bo Jewell (WR/DB), Brad Lasher (OL/DL), Jake Holloway (QB/DB), Julian Craig (RB/LB),
Players Looking To Step Up- Austin Hardiman. The senior will return after missing his junior year because of injury, a tough lineman will be looked upon for his leadership.
Spring Practice- May 9-17
Spring Optimism- The Wildcats have very good skill players led by quarterback Drew Martin (2,450 passing yards, 23 TDs), wide receivers Kel Hawkins, Ollie Reese, Tiy Reed and Garnett Hollis.
Spring Concerns- BGA will have to find some linebackers to start alongside returning starter Mathew Ligon.
3. Christ Presbyterian Academy Lions
Last Year’s Record- 7-7, lost to Liberty in Class 3A Semifinals
Head Coach- Ingle Martin (74-13 in six years at CPA)
Offensive Coordinator- Steve Haywood
Defensive Coordinator- Ryan Taylor
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 11 (6 Off/5 Def)
Offense- Two Back Shotgun
Key Returnees- Coleman Smith (WR/DB, Sr.), Chase Huseman (RB/DB, Sr.), Joe More (OL/DL Sr.), Henry Proctor (OL/DL Sr.), Sam Bahou (TE/DL, Sr.), Domenic Ferrari (FB/DL Sr.), Dylan Lynch (OL/DL Sr.), Tucker Duncan (WR/DB Sr.), Matt Adams (OL/DL, Sr.), Garrett Beam (WR/LB, Sr.), Jackson Lewis (WR/DB, Sr.), Griffin Sweat (WR/DB, Sr.), Kane Patterson (RB/LB, Jr.), Ryan Eledge (QB/DB, Jr.), Jacob Stopkotte (OL/DL, Jr.), Noah Henderson (WR/DB, Jr.), Bryce McCormick (ATH/LB, Jr.), Andrew Madden (RB/LB, Jr.), Ethan Stewart (RB/LB, Jr.), Seth Jones (OL/DL, Jr.), Sam West (RB/DB, Jr.) Brown Myers (OL/DL Jr.), Grant Buell (OL/DL, Jr.), Reed Stout (OL/DL, Jr.), Payne Trapnell (WR/DB, Jr.), McNiel Stout (WR/LB, Jr.), Brett Nabors (WR/DB, Jr.), Sebastian Stubblefield (K/P, Jr.), Sam Ellis (WR/DB, Soph.), Jarrett Mathews (OL/DL, Soph.), Sam Leonard (OL/DL, Soph.), Jack Diamond (OL/DL, Soph.) Barrett Smith (RB/LB, Soph.), Zack Smitherman (TE/DL, Soph.)
Key Losses- Will Peters (OL/DL), Andrew Howard (WR/DB), Brad Smith (DL/RB), Rooke Young (OL/DL), Grey McCullough (WR/DB), Robert Carpenter (OL/DL), Land Teller (WR/LB) James Deaton (RB/LB), Keaton Carr (FB/DL), JT Gilbert (K)
Players Looking To Step Up- Ryan Eledge. The junior will start his second year at quarterback after passing for 1,755 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Spring Practice- May 8-19
Spring Optimism- The Lions will return their top two linebackers Bryce McCormick (80 tackles) and Kane Patterson (75 tackles) which will help their overall defense.
Spring Concerns- CPA will have to replace all three starters on their defensive line and finding starters and depth will be huge.
2. Knoxville Webb Spartans
Last Year’s Record- 11-2, lost to Lausanne in Division II-A Finals
Head Coach- David Meske (254-120 in 31 years at Webb)
Offensive Coordinator- Clark Wormsley
Defensive Coordinator- Kevin Catlett
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 15 (8 Off/7 Def)
Offense- Wing T
Key Returnees- Hunter Green (QB, Sr.), Jah-Lil Jefferson (RB, Jr.), Morgan Ernst (RB, Sr.), Roderick Lewis (WR, Jr.), Issac Hubbard (OL, Sr.), Sam Werner (OL, Sr.), Jake Julian (OL, Sr.), Jones Stamper (OL, Sr.), Davis Delozier (DB, Sr.), Alec Boruff (DB, Jr.), Bryson Glenn (DB, Sr.), Elijah Howard (RB, Fr.)
Key Losses- Juwaan Jefferson (RB/DE), Tommy Jordan (RB/LB), Jack Nadaud (TE/DE), Brody Leonard (OL/LB), Andrew Favaro (K)
Players Looking To Step Up- Elijah Howard. The freshman rushed for 1,043 yards and 17 touchdowns as an eighth grader and a huge season from him in 2017 would be huge for the Spartans.
Spring Practice- May 15-19
Spring Optimism- Webb returns eight starters on offense and have talented running backs in Howard, senior Morgan Ernst and junior Jah-Lil Jefferson as well as returning starter Hunter Green at quarterback.
Spring Concerns- The Spartans will have to find depth on both sides of the offensive and defensive lines.
1 . Lausanne Lynx
Last Year’s Record- 14-0, Division II-A state champions
Head Coach- Kevin Locastro (138-67 overall, 28-8 in three years at Lausanne)
Offensive Coordinator- Patrick Nagoski
Defensive Coordinator- Chris Jordan
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 16 (9 Off/7 Def)
Key Returnees- Nyle Love (LB, Sr.), Josh Crawford (OL/DL, Sr.), Eric Gray (RB, Jr.), Gray Clark (WR/FS, Sr.), Yusef Thomas (LB, Jr.), Devon Bodie (WR, Jr.), Wesley Carr (OL, Sr.), Koby Jeffries (WR, Jr.), Derreion Greenlee (OL, Jr.), Parker Pulliam (OL, Sr.), Jalen Edwards (OL, Sr.), Gary Walton (OL, Jr.), Erek Campbell (FS, Jr.), Cameron Simms (DB, Jr.), Sky Forrest (QB, Jr.)
Key Losses- Mario Nolan Dillard (QB), Jarius Douglas (OL/DL), Cameron Taylor (S), James Babb (LB), Cameron Kinley (DB), Jesse Neloms (WR), Mekhi Prince (DL),
Players Looking To Step Up- Sky Forrest. The junior will take over at quarterback and will be counted on as the Lynx will try to repeat as champions.
Spring Practice- Will not have spring practice
Spring Optimism- The Lynx return nine starters on offense none more important then Division II-A Mr. Football Back winner Eric Gray who rushed for 2,215 yards and 38 touchdowns last season.
Spring Concerns- The quarterback play with Sky Forrest will be important as he passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 of 29 passing in 2016.
Five More Teams To Keep Your Eye On- CAK, FACS, Grace Christian Academy, Lipscomb Academy and USJ
Contact Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at Examine_Stew