By Stetson Marlin:
Hardin Valley vs Oak Ridge
When: August 23rd, 7:30 PM
Where: At Oak Ridge
High school football is finally underway. It is the first week of high school football here in the state of Tennessee. East Tennessee features a number of good games to start the year off but the match-up of Hardin Valley vs Oak Ridge is an intriguing matchup for a few reasons.
Hardin Valley Academy Hawks
Hardin Valley heads into the 2019 season with a new coach in Mike Potter. He was hired this past offseason after Wes Jones retired. Potter spent numerous years as an assistant coach around the Knoxville area, including Hardin Valley for the past five seasons.
He will look to lead a team that finished with a 6-5 record last season. They had to replace senior quarterback Grayson Vaughn who threw for 1,794 yards last season. Their leading rusher, Kelton Gunn, does return for his senior season after leading Hardin Valley in rushing last season with 746 yards.
As for their defense, Cam York and Jaylen Moore return after finishing second and third on the team in tackles last season. York had a fantastic defensive year last season, finishing with 107 tackles and one fumble recovery. Moore finished with 105 tackles, 12 TFLs and three fumble recoveries last season. Both of those guys will play an impact in this game.
Oak Ridge Wildcats
Oak Ridge had a tall task this offseason. Their star quarterback, Herb Booker, graduated last season after finishing with over 1,500 all-purpose yards and being named a Mr. Football finalist. They also had to replace leading rusher Jordan Graham after he rushed for 1,162 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.
Mitchell Gibbons saw a good bit of action last season and will look to lead the Wildcats after he finished with 480 passing yards last season, adding on five touchdowns. Tyrell Romano and Trey Rowe will look to contribute to a rushing attack that has had success over the last few seasons.
On defense, their leading tackler, Yacopo Adams, returns for his senior season after a tremendous junior season. He finished with 127 tackles last season and also added on seven TFLs and two sacks. He will look to be a difference-maker in this match-up and will look to slow down Gunn.
Predicting the game
As I mentioned, this is an interesting match-up that features a number of question marks for both teams. How will the Hawks fare in their first game under head coach Mike Potter? How will the Wildcats replace the production of Booker and Graham?
Those questions will be answered on Friday night as both teams look to start the season off with a victory. Hardin Valley will likely rely on Gunn a good bit tomorrow night.
Defense will play a big factor in this game, and I think that works in the favor of Hardin Valley.
Hardin Valley 21 – Oak Ridge 14