By MURPHY FAIR
What's the best way to describe the upcoming high school football season in Tennessee? In a word - CHANGE.
Changes are significant as we approach the 2013 season. The three main categories of changes include the following:
HEAD COACHING CHANGES - More than 70 schools that play high school football in our state will be operating under the direction of a new head coach this year. That means more than 20 percent of the football playing high schools in the state will have a new head football coach this fall. Some of the more notable changes include the following:
Ricky Woods (Peabody) - the new Golden Tide coach won four state titles in five years at South Panola, Miss., a school considered to be among the top programs in the country. He replaces Joe Gaddis.
Joe Gaddis (Oak Ridge) - Gaddis returns "home" to Oak Ridge where he won his only state title as a head coach in 1991. He coached the 'Cats for most of the decade of the '90s before stops in Mississippi, Alabama and West Tennessee.
Ken Colquette (Sequatchie Co.) - Colquette directed neighboring Marion County to four state titles from 1990 to 1995. He comes out of retirement to lead the Indian attack in Dunlap and will be working for Principal Tommy Layne, his college roommate for one season at Tennessee Tech several years ago.
CLASSIFICATION CHANGES - no less than 60 schools have changed classifications. A total of 33 schools moved down at least one class while 26 moved up. One school (Friendship Christian) moved from the 2A ranks of Division I to Division II-A. Key moves include Powell, East Hamilton, Hendersonville, Centennial, Pearl Cohn, Elizabethton, Cascade, Huntingdon and Eagleville all moving up one class where the playoffs are concerned. Well-known football playing schools moving down a class include Lincoln County, Oak Ridge, Lipscomb Academy, Knoxville Catholic, Sullivan South, Mitchell (2 classes), Dresden and Goodpasture. Most will be considered contenders for multiple round playoff action in their smaller classifications.
RULES CHANGES - A handful of new rules will be implemented this year. The one catching the most publicity involves pass interference. If it's offensive, there will no longer be a loss of down. It's simply a 15-yard penalty. If it's defensive, the offense is awarded 15 yards but the next play is not an automatic first down. One of the more interesting changes deals with towels worn by players. It's OK for players to wear towels as long as the towels are all the same color. The color, however, cannot be the same color as the ball or penalty flags. I've heard about "get-back" coaches. But does this mean we now have color coordinators on the sideline? What's this game coming to?
Murphy Fair has published TENNESSEE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL for more than 25 years. His statewide syndicated radio show (Murphy's Matchups) can be heard locally on Friday evenings before kickoff on WBRY.