But just as Hurricane Harvey has been the talk of the news and weather this week, the remnants of the storm has been front and center of teams’ game plans this week.
With rain forecasted until the weekend, there were no good options for teams looking to get out of the storm. Chances of rain are as high Thursday as Friday. Saturday starts the Labor Day weekend and college football season. The Region 4-6A teams have a mutual open date in October, but that’s fall break with many plans away from football already in place. It would be easier to play in a storm than force hundreds of families to change possible vacation plans.
The weather forecast does look more promising for the weekend, thus Rossview’s home game with Wilson Central has been moved to 4 p.m. that day at Austin Peay’s Fortera Stadium’s turf field in Clarksville.
Mt. Juliet at Lebanon
When it rains, it pours.
Not only is Lebanon winless, the Blue Devils go into their big rivalry game against undefeated Mt. Juliet without quarterback Chandler Crite. Also, the rain threatens the shrink the crowd for what would otherwise be LHS’ largest gate of the season.
“I talked to (Mt. Juliet) Coach (Trey) Perry and he said, ‘It’s not a good option for you no matter which way you go - Thursday, Friday, Saturday, whatever.’,” Lebanon coach Chuck Gentry said. “I talked with (principal) Mr. (Scott) Walters, (athletic director) Mr. (Zack) Martin and the weather people and just decided to keep it Friday at 7 o’clock and see what happens.”
Perry had the most succinct line when he said, “We’re going to get wet.”
“It’ll be wet on both sides,” Gentry said. “Make it a little interesting, make it a little fun.”
Mt. Juliet has outscored its first two opponents 93-0 and is the heavy favorite. But is rain a possible equalizer?
“Flip a coin. You never know how kids will react,” Gentry said. “Sometimes, it favors one, favors the other. We’re kind of similar offenses, do some of the same things. It just depends. It’s all about execution.”
Both coaches said Tuesday they planned to practice with wet footballs Wednesday, even if it didn’t rain.
“We’re going to get a wet ball out there (Wednesday) and flip it around, slip it around,” Gentry said. “I told them we’ll be outside no matter what trying to get used to it. We’ll see who has the advantage Friday.
“Once it gets wet, it gets wet. It’s one of those things you can’t really prepare for until you’re out there in it, in the elements. We’ll try to adjust, to adapt and do the best we can.”
“I told our players (Tuesday), whether or not it rains (Wednesday), we’ll practice with wet footballs,” Perry said Tuesday. “We place coolers in various spots and dip the balls in the cooler and use them.”
Had the teams been meeting in dry conditions, the unbeaten Bears would try to stave off an upset bid by the winless, but improving, Blue Devils.
“They’re two plays from being 2-0,” Perry said of the Blue Devils. “What that tells me and our players is they’re a much-improved football team.”
“They got 30 seniors and they’ve not been scored on this year,” Gentry said of the Bears. “Good football team, coached well. Play tough, play aggressive. They’re big, strong.”
Crite will miss this week with an undisclosed injury and will be replaced by senior Chad Butler, with sophomore Breeze Copas also seeing some snaps in the pistol. Gentry said Crite should return to the lineup next week when LaVergne visits Clifton Tribble Field/Danny Watkins Stadium.
“It’s football,” Gentry said. “When somebody goes down, it’s next man up. It’s what you practice for. That’s why you have people ready. Chad’s done a good job for us this fall. He’s waited his turn. I told him two weeks ago ‘you’re one snap away,’ and here we are. We’re not going to change anything. We’ll line up and do what we do.”
For Mt. Juliet, linebacker Tony Thompson practiced Tuesday after missing last week’s Overton game with a migraine headache.
“We came out of Overton healthy, but we are still having to deal with what we had to deal with in preseason,” Perry said.
Trousdale County at Watertown
When it comes to weather, Purple Tiger coach Gavin Webster deals with it as it comes. He also doesn’t want his team to get wet until it has to.
“I won’t go out if it’s pouring down rain,” Webster said of practice. “It’s taking a chance on kids getting hurt. I can get just as much work done inside.
“We’ve got stuff we can do under center, and that’s the extent of it.”
Both teams are back in the same region after a two-year hiatus. Both are coming off Week 2 losses which dropped them to 1-1.
Though Trousdale County has a new coach with no connection to the Yellow Jackets’ storied past, the Jackets look much like they have through the years. In this case, their offense revolves around quarterback Keyvont Baines.
“Quarterback is an athlete,” Webster said of Baines. “They try to run the quarterback quite a bit. They want to get the ball in his hands.”
As for Watertown’s quarterback, Bryce Webster will miss his second straight game with a broken collarbone sustained on the second series of the second half of the opener against Gordonsville.
“We thought it was just a shoulder, turned out to be worse,” said Coach Webster, Bryce’s father. “He’s doing fine. He won’t play this week. We’re trying to get him healed up. Not sure when he will return.”
Webster said sophomore Elijah Williams will be the quarterback this week after playing the second half at Mt. Juliet Christian last week.
Friendship Christian at Grace Baptist
After sitting out Week 1, the Golden Eagles opened their season last week with a 25-13 win over Sale Creek.
“They got a good quarterback, runs the ball pretty well,” Commander coach John McNeal said of the Eagles, who faced Friendship in the first round of the playoffs three straight seasons in the mid-2000s. “Tailback is good. Spread, a lot of motion. Defensively, they’re a four-front.
“They’re a solid team.”
McNeal said the forecast for Chattanooga is about as wet as here.
“Ninety percent, where it’s 100 here,” McNeal said. “It’s going to be wet no matter where you’re at.”
So which team would get an advantage from bad weather?
“Weather is not an answer for anybody until after the game,” McNeal said. “And then you look and see… In the end, you’ll find out who it favored when the ball hits the ground.
“There’s probably going to be rain Thursday, but I doubt I’m going to go out and practice in it because I don’t know if that prepares you. We hope to do the things fundamentally right. That’s ball-handling, doing the things we would do if it’s wet or dry and hope that makes the difference when we’re in wet weather.”
Mt. Juliet Christian vs. Concord Christian at Christian Academy of Knoxville
The Saints open play in the new Division II-A East Region against an 0-2 Concord team which doesn’t have a field at its Farragut campus. Mt. Juliet Christian is 2-0 and coming off a signature win over Watertown.
“It was a big win,” Mt. Juliet Christian coach Dan Davis said of last week. “Watertown came out and played hard. They’re a perennial power in 2A. We played hard. You can’t ask more from our guys. They played hard and did what we asked them to do.”
Davis said he has a rule in place designed to eliminate any hangover - good or bad - from the previous week.
“The rule around here is you have 24 hours and it’s back to business,” he said. “Now it’s on to Concord. That’s all that matters.
“It’s a region game. For us, that’s a big game.”
Concord runs a spread offense and a 3-4 defense.
Rain is also forecasted for Knoxville, but CAK’s field is turf. Davis said the Saints will stay on site until the game is done.
“We’re going to stay until the cows come home,” he said.
Davis said the Saints are healthy except for outside linebacker Jacob Hall, who suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the Watertown game.
Wilson Central vs. Rossview at Austin Peay
Dedman was planning to practice in the rain Wednesday to prepare for Friday’s precipitation. But with the change to a turf field on what promises to be a dryer, and possibly sunnier, Saturday, the Wildcats and Hawks can focus on finding their first win of the season after two opening losses as the teams open Region 4-6A action.
“They’re an athletic football team,” Dedman said of the Hawks. “They run a spread offense similar to what we run. They have some really good athletes at wide receiver and running back.”
Dedman cited junior running back Fred Orr, junior slotback Kayden Miller and senior receiver Cole Ogle as Hawks to watch for.
The Wildcats can keep Rossview’s offense on the sideline by holding onto the football, something they’ve struggled doing the first two weeks of the season.
“We got to do a good job of holding onto the football,” Dedman said.
Week 3 games
MT. JULIET at LEBANON, 7 p.m.
Trousdale County at WATERTOWN, 7 p.m.
FRIENDSHIP CHRISTIAN at Grace Baptist, 6:30 p.m. CDT
MT. JULIET CHRISTIAN vs. Concord Christian at Christian Academy of Knoxville, 6 p.m. CDT
WILSON CENTRAL vs. Rossview at Austin Peay, 4 p.m.