DECATUR — Teams don’t get better by facing inferior competition, they improve by facing teams as good or better than they are. Knowing that, the Tigers have significantly upgraded their non-district schedule for next season.
Meigs County Coach Jason Fitzgerald said the goal of the upgraded schedule is simply to make the Tigers a better football team. The non-district schedule still includes area rivals McMinn Central (home), Sweetwater (away) and Polk County (home), but also include a home game against Class 5A squad Clinton, home versus Greenback and at South Pittsburg.
“I like where we are headed with this schedule,” Fitzgerald said, adding that fans and players have embraced the tougher slate of games. “Greenback has won a state title recently (last year) and South Pittsburg is a state title contender. Both Greenback and South Pittsburg are state title contenders every year. And Clinton is a bigger school.”
Clinton had only an OK year, going 4-7, but the Dragons made the playoffs, and as a 5A team may have a depth advantage. Clinton also is in a difficult region with Oak Ridge and Fulton.
Greenback went 12-1 last year, reaching the state semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Whitwell. The Cherokees have been one of the better small school teams in the state the last few years.
South Pittsburg has historically been a very fast and athletic squad, and now that coach Vic Grider has returned, the Pirates have again become an area power. The Pirates went 11-2 last season, with their only losses coming at the hands of Whitwell.
“We wanted to upgrade the schedule because it will mean better competition and better completion makes you better,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m good friends with coach (Vic) Grider (South Pittsburg) and coach (Greg) Ryan (at Greenback). Coach Randy McKamey (Clinton, formerly of Grace Christian Academy) is trying to turn Clinton around up there. We are started talking and the dates just worked out.”
Greenback, Clinton and South Pittsburg have a combined record of 27-10, with Clinton having seven of those losses. Those three replace Hixson, Sequatchie and Cumberland County, which went a combined 9-22.
The other non-district games are well-known to area fans, and Fitzgerald said it was important to keep playing Central, Sweetwater and Polk County. Sweetwater and Polk are unknown quantities to a certain extent as Sweetwater athletic director and former Meigs County coach Mike Martin takes over as head coach of the Wildcats, and Polk is looking for a new coach after the resignation of Derrick Davis.
“Those are local rivals, and they were rivals long before I got here,” Fitzgerald said. “We wanted to keep them on the schedule.”
The rest of the schedule, all District 2-2A games, are home versus Cumberland Gap, at Rockwood, at Oneida and home against Wartburg. As of now, all the games are set for a 7:30 p.m. (Eastern) kickoff.
Meigs’ junior varsity schedule includes gams against Sweetwater, Copper Basin, McMinn Central and Loudon.
Food City Border Bowl: In other news, as stated in a press release, over 160 young men from across Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia will be competing in the upcoming Food City Border Bowl – which takes place on Saturday, Jan. 19, at Sevier County High School.
The event will get underway at 12:30 p.m. The first game pits Kentucky against North Carolina. The second game will follow at approximately 3:30 p.m., with Tennessee taking on Georgia.
Adult tickets are available at the gate for only $10. Children ages 10 and under are admitted free of charge. Since its inception,over $1,000,000 has been distributed to area students as a result of Border Bowl scholarships.
No local players are currently expected to play in this game. Among the players on the Tennessee roster, according to the Border Bowl website, are players from Oak Ridge, Ooltewah, Fulton, Austin-East, Riverdale and Oakland high schools.