By Stetson Marlin:
Grace Christian vs Alcoa
When: August 16th, 7:30 PM
Where: At Alcoa
The high school football season finally begins in Tennessee this week, as over 300 high school teams will take the field for the first time this season. There are many good games this week throughout Tennessee, but one of the best games throughout the state has to be the Alcoa – Grace Christian game. These two teams get started early this season, kicking off on Thursday, August 16th, rather than the typical Friday night game. Alcoa is coming off yet another state championship, while Grace Christian is coming a heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame in the state quarterfinals.
Maryville and Catholic play this week as well, but Maryville has an even bigger match-up next week with Oakland coming to town.
Last year’s game between the two teams was a fun one. GCA jumped out to a 7-6, but were held scoreless for two quarters. Alcoa took the lead in the 2nd quarter on a field goal to take a 9-7 halftime lead. Alcoa came out of the gates firing, scoring 21 points in the third quarter alone to take a 30-7 lead. GCA scored a touchdown in the 4th to cut the Alcoa lead but that was all they could get, as Alcoa took that matchup 30-14.
Alcoa heads into the year with a lot of hype, and that hype is well deserved, as they have three consecutive state championships and have a shot at a fourth one in a row. The Tornadoes return a good bit of their players from last year state championship team. The Tornadoes return starting quarterback Walker Russell, as well as three different senior running backs in Kareem Rodriguez, Jalen McCord, and K’Vaugh Tyson. They have to replace a good bit of their offensive line, but return a good bit of defensive linemen from last year’s team. The Tornadoes defense will once again be stout, as many key defensive players return to a team that allowed 14 points or less in 11 of their 15 games last season.
Grace Christian Academy
Grace Christian comes into the year looking to improve on last year’s quarterfinal appearance. The Rams lost a few key defensive players, but return a good bit of their skill defensive players. Grace Christian will have high expectations on the offensive side of the ball. The Rams return QB Luke Kirby, who threw for 3220 last season as a junior. He had 251 completions on 424 attempts including 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His favorite target Eli Nordhorn will also return and will be a huge part of the Rams offense. Nordhorn was eighth in the state in reception yards, as he caught 76 passes for 1153 yards, including nine touchdowns.
Predicting the game
This will be an interesting game to start the season. Both teams have a state championship in mind, so a win for either team would be a huge momentum swing to start the season off. Both teams have high powered offenses, so this game has all the makings for a high scoring game. It will likely come down to the better defensive team in this one. I think it will turn out like last year’s game with Alcoa pulling away late to secure a win to start the year off.
Alcoa 38 – GCA 24