Way Too Early Top 5 In Every Classification
By Carter Mansfield
These articles are always fun. These will definitely change drastically as we get closer to the season, as players transfer, among other things. Without further anymore hold up, here is my WAY too early Top 5 teams in each classification.
This one is pretty easy. The Patriots return Jordan James and Isaiah Horton, along with others that were key components in their dominant state title run.
Things get interesting here, as Ravenwood brings back state champion coach, Will Hester. They are also losing key pieces such as Jake Briningstool, but I think the Raptors will get back on track after a disappointing loss in the second round to Franklin.
After a disappointing showing in the semifinals against Oakland, the Rebels will look to get back on track this season. DJ Burks will be the man for Maryville this season, as his recruitment is booming right now.
Riverdale returns a great young core from last season in the Herring brothers and running back Brandon Connard, who has received several SEC offers this offseason. I expect Oakland vs. Riverdale to be one of the biggest of the season next year.
After not being allowed to play this season, the Tigers will come into next season with as much to prove as anyone. They have consistently been the best program in Memphis, and will look to continue that next season.
Powell returns almost everyone from a team who was ranked in the top five for most of the season. Led by Mr. Football semifinalist quarterback Jordyn Potts, Powell will look to improve on their disappointing first round loss to Walker Valley in 2021.
2. Henry County
Henry County returns a good young core that can build upon their semifinal run this past season. Led by quarterback Ryan Damron, the Patriots will most likely dominate their region, as they have in years past.
3. Oak Ridge
Oak Ridge made a surprise run to the state title game this past season, and they will look to do the same this year. Led by running back Kendall Jackson on offense, the Wildcats will look to not only make it Cookeville, but come home with a victory this time.
4. Knoxville West
Knoxville West was ranked as the number one team in 5A for most of the season, but a surprise quarterfinal loss to Oak Ridge ended the Rebel’s hopes for a gold ball. West will be coming back with a vengeance, so expect them to make a run come playoff time next season.
Nolensville will make the move up from 4A, and will be instant contenders. They have a lot of talent coming back from last season, and will look to make some serious noise in their first season in 5A.
There are a ton of teams moving up from 3A that will be serious contenders next season, but I’m going to stick with the back-to-back state champions in the number one spot. Led by Mr. Football finalist quarterback Bryson Rollins, the Cyclones will look to make it 45 consecutives wins and 3 consecutive state titles, once the season is over.
2. South Doyle
South Doyle made a run to the 5A semifinals last season, and will look to have the same success this year in their move to 4A. The Cherokees return a lot of good young players, such as star running back Shawn Gary, and will definitely make some noise in the playoffs.
Pearl-Cohn has been an absolute powerhouse in 3A, and they will look to continue that as they move up to 4A. The Firebirds are losing a lot of key leaders, but they also have a lot of young talent to make up for that, such as 4-star wide receiver Barion Brown.
Milan made a run to the 3A state title game last season, before losing to eventual state champion Alcoa. They return almost all of their key pieces from that team, so they could be a team that makes serious noise in the playoffs.
Haywood made it all the way to the 4A state title game last season, before losing to Elizabethton. The Tomcats return some players from that team, and they will look to make the same kind of run this season.
This one is pretty easy, as Alcoa has won six consecutive 3A state titles, and there was a mass exodus of 3A schools moving into 4A. The Tornadoes actually return a good number of key pieces from this past season championship team such as quarterback Caden Buckles and offensive lineman Lance Williams.
2. East Nashville
East Nashville is building a very good program, that will be a contender in 3A for years to come. The Eagles may not be quite on the level of Alcoa yet, but they will definitely be in the mix this season.
Covington has been serious contenders in 3A for the past few years, and don’t expect that to change in 2021. They return a good number of players from last season's team, and will look to make a run deep into the playoffs this season.
Loudon had a great season last year, as their only two losses came against Red Bank. The Redskins return several players from that team, and will look to go even deeper into the playoffs this season.
5. Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge has been a program on the rise in the past few seasons, and they will look to continue to improve on that progress next season. They have several good young players, and will have a chance to make some real noise in the playoffs, since 3A is entirely wide open after Alcoa.
1. Meigs County
Meigs County has lost two consecutive state title games to Peabody, but with Peabody’s move down to 1A, the Tigers will no longer have to worry about them. Meigs County returns a lot of key pieces, including quarterback Logan Carroll who gained 1,800 total yards this past season.
Westview was a decent team in 3A this past season, but the Chargers have a real chance to make noise in 2A next season. Led by 4-star quarterback Ty Simpson, the Chargers should have no problem putting up points.
3. Memphis Academy of Health Sciences
MAHS did not get to play this past season, due to the cancellation of football by Shelby County. They will feature 4-star wide receiver Cameron Miller, among others, and will look to make a major run in the playoffs next season.
4. Trousdale County
Trousdale County has been a football powerhouse for years, and don’t expect next year to be any different. While the Yellow Jackets are losing a lot, they also have some very talented young players coming back, and hope to make another playoff run.
Watertown has had serious playoff woes in the past few years, once they get to the Trousdale County matchup. The players who are returning, such as star quarterback Brayden Cousino, hope to change that, and make a run deep into the playoffs.
Peabody has the state’s longest winning streak at 38 games, to go along with 3 consecutive 2A state titles. The Golden Tide will look to continue that success, as they move down to 1A. They will be led by 2A Mr. Football winner running back Khalik Ganaway.
Fayetteville got hot in the playoffs this past season, to earn the program’s first state title. The Tigers return almost everyone from that team, including star running back KJ Jackson.
3. South Pittsburg
South Pittsburg seemed to be the state title favorites all season long, but came up just short as they were upset by Fayetteville in the title game. Look out for running back De’andre Kelly next season, as he has the potential to be what Hunter Frame was for the Pirates this past season.
4. Lake County
Lake County almost made it back to Cookeville for the second consecutive season, but were beaten by Fayetteville in the semifinals. The Falcons have some very good young players, and they will definitely be title contenders next season.
5. Moore County
Moore County has several young players that had All-State caliber seasons. The Raiders will have talent for years to come, and the region battles with Fayetteville will be as good as you will find.
1. Christian Brothers
Once again, DII-AAA will be as wide open and unpredictable as you will find. I’m going to go with Christian Brothers as my number one team, just because of the talent they have coming back. Led by Mr. Football winner running back Dallan Hayden and Power 5 prospect Patrick Kutas, the Purple Wave will be serious contenders next season.
2. Knoxville Catholic
Catholic had a very disappointing and injury plagued year this past season. They return some serious talent, though, in quarterback Kaden Martin, wide receiver Tommy Winton, and running back Keondre Jarmon. Watchout for the Irish as serious contenders.
McCallie is the back-to-back state champions, so there is no way you can’t put them near the top. The Blue Tornado return some key pieces such as two-way star Kenzy Paul. McCallie will have a very good chance to make it three in a row once again next year.
4. Pope John Paull II
JP2 had a ton of young talent last year, and were still among the state’s best. They will be even better in 2021, led by quarterback Kenny Minchey, who was recently offered by Tennessee.
MBA is one of the top teams in the state every year, and next season will be no different. The Big Red will be led by quarterback Marcel Reed, who recently gained offers from Alabama and Tennessee.
CPA is the defending state champion in DII-AA, and they will be the favorite once again next season. The Lions are led by 4-star athlete Langston Patterson and quarterback Cade Law.
2. Lipscomb Academy
Lipscomb Academy actually beat CPA in the regular season, and won the region this past season, but came up just short in the state title game against the Lions. The Mustangs return two of their key players on offense in quarterback Luther Richesson and Mr. Football semifinalist running back Alex Broome.
3. Davidson Academy
Davidson Academy won three consecutive state titles in DII-A, but they are making the move up next season. The Bears will be instant contenders, led by star defensive end Kendyle Ball.
ECS has been very successful during the past few years, and there is no doubt they will be contenders once again. They will lose several key pieces, including Mr. Football winner Dietrick Pennington to Clemson.
CAK was the surprise contender this past season, and they will look to build on that same success in 2021. Led by Mr. Football finalist James Dunn, the Warriors have a chance to be real contenders once again.
1. University School of Jackson
USJ has had some very disappointing losses in the past couple of state title games to Davidson Academy, but the Bruins will no longer have to worry about that as Davidson Academy has made the move up to DII-AA. USJ has great size up front, which will allow them to be one of the top teams in DII-A next season.
2. Nashville Christian School
NCS had a bit of a disappointing year this past year, but the Eagles got hot in the playoffs. I expect them to carry this success over into 2021, and be serious contenders in DII-A.
3. The King’s Academy
TKA did not go as far as I expected this past season, but they have the talent to make a serious run in 2021. Led by 3-star running back Nakelin McAfee, the Lions will have one of the most dynamic offenses in the region next year.
4. Friendship Christian School
FCS is a program that has been on the rise for the past few years, and they have a chance to be contenders once again. The Commanders return several key pieces from last season’s team.
5. Donelson Christian Academy
DCA had a dream season in 2020, as they went undefeated in the regular season before losing to USJ in the playoffs. They may not be as talented in 2021, but I expect them to still have success.