CHATTANOOGA,TN-(WRCB)-- It's time to talk Scenic City high school football. As there was a meet and greet of sorts Thursday afternoon at Finley Stadium by the head coaches of region 6, double a football programs First up, new Howard head coach Mark Teague, who was hired away from East Ridge. He was the Pioneer's Defensive Coordinator last year. Teague says one of his first orders of business was instilling the pride factor back into the Howard football team. The new ways go beyond just updated uniforms. "Kids aren't like we were playing ball in high school you just couldn't show up and say, ok, let's go play football, you got to sell them a little bit and I wanted to make sure they got all new uniforms, home and away and an alternate home uniform as well is coming," said Teague, who adds fans should expect a lot of Howard defensive packages similar to East Ridge last year. A number of those players can't expect double time, as the team has roughly 30 players not including incoming freshmen.
In Wildcat country,what's old is new again on the Hixson high sideline.. As former head coach Dan Duff returns after a 12 year stint at Rockmart High in Georgia. During his previous tenure at Hixson, Duff led the Wildcats to a 28-35 record from 19-96 to 20-01. The Wildcats enjoying three winning seasons, and four straight playoff appearances. Duff says it's good to be home again. "I've been coaching now for 30 years, and the six years I was at HIxson is my favorite time I've ever had I went in when it was down, we only 27 kids the first year I was there, by the third year we won the region, i mean it was just a great time," recalls Duff. Hixson opens the season August 22nd on the road against Soddy-Daisy.
As for the Brainerd High Panthers, it's a rebuilding year. Last year's 3 and 7 mark had former head coach Stanley Jackson stepping aside at season's end. It's now Brian Gwyn's gig to make or break. The Panthers have roughly 26 players so far, so expect a couple of guys playing both ways. Brainerd offensive coordinator Tyrus Ward believes the Panthers strong suite will initially be defense. "We have six returning starters coming back on that side of the ball, those guys are flying around over there, so our defensive side of the ball will carry us early on until our offense kind of catches up to the speed of the defense", said Ward, Brainerd's star quarterback from the late 1990's. Tevin Walker is slated as Brainerd's starting QB, succeeding Sam Caffey who graduated.
Meanwhile, East Ridge Pioneers' head coach Tracy Malone hopes to improve upon last year's 5-6 mark. Malone says his team has had a good off-season and conditioning program. He has 64 players already not including incoming freshmen and he's certain his squad will be competitive. "I'm really excited about our season," says Malone. " I don't know, I think we'll line up for ten games and we'll be in them, that's what I think, I think we'll be in 'em, win, 'em, lose 'em, I don't know but we'll be in them." East Ridge opens play at Walker Valley August 22nd.
Chattanooga Central welcomes its new head coach Ryan Mallory. Mallory knows he has a tough road ahead, not so much for a perceived lack of talent. But rather, diminished expectations.. He's convinced by doing the little things correctly, the other things, like more wins than last year's 5 and 6 squad, will fall right into place. "We have athletes walking the hallway but we put that emphasis on doing the little things right, at home, in the community, in the classroom, and all of that will carry over to the football field, trying to emphasize to our kids that you can't flip the switch on and off, you really have to be doing the right things all the time, that will breed success," said Mallory. Central opens the season at home against Franklin County.
There's been a changing of the guard at Red Bank as well. The Lions finding their new head coach Chad Grabowski from Mount Dora, Florida. Red Bank offensive coordinator Matt Bowman says this year's theme for the team is "restore the roar". They want to get back to school's rich 75 year history of championship football. If there's one battle they've won so far, its the numbers game. 60 players this year nearly doubles last year's Lion team. "People saw Coach Grabowski and him getting out in the community as quickly as possible,saw his attitude and different things that are going on," said Bowman." Just try to show up as much as they can, from what I understand its about double the size we ended up with the season last year, so i think again its that attitude of wanting to get back to what Red Bank football used to be and what its eventually going to be, we believe." The Lions open the season at Boyd-Buchanan.