Week Zero: Lions Among Early Starters
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For those who thought the 2010 high school football season would never get here, your wait is just about over. The season officially begins next week as dozens of high school squads kick off the 2010 campaign in what has simply become known as “Week Zero”.

Cannon County is one of those teams that get the season started early. The Lions’ effort begins with a trip to Columbia and an encounter with the Raiders of Spring Hill. The Maury County squad traveled to Woodbury last year and defeated Cannon County in the 2009 season opener for both teams, 42-14.

Can the Lions repeat as District 8-AA champions in 2010? That’s a tough call to make, especially when a single league game has yet to be played by any of the schools that call this district their home.

One thing, however, is certain. Cannon County will have a tough time sneaking up on teams this fall. Coaches in District 8-AA picked the Lions to finish last in 2009. But as the season progressed last year, it became more and more apparent that Coach Joel Schrenk’s team was not a cellar dweller.

Coaches in the district are mixed in their thoughts as to where the Lions will finish the 2010 season.  Cannon County, in a preseason vote by coaches in District 8-AA, received votes for first, second, third, fourth and fifth place in the league. No other team in the league received ballots for so many different finishes in the district.

Looking back on the 2009 season, it’s no wonder why league coaches are so mixed in their 2010 predictions for the Lions. After last year’s opening loss to Spring Hill, a 35-7 win over West Creek helped give the Woodbury club some much needed confidence. But the win was far from being a shocker. West Creek was one of Montgomery County’s newest schools and the Coyotes were playing their first full year of varsity football. They won just once during the 2009 season.

The win over West Creek was followed by losses to DeKalb County and Donelson Christian in subsequent weeks. Suddenly the Lions were facing the possibility of another losing season and another year without playoff participation. Gaining access to the playoffs, something Cannon County football had not previously enjoyed since the 1995 season, was looking more like a dream that reality.

When a big win over district foe York Institute came in Week Five, fans of other teams in the district simply viewed the 20-14 victory over the Jamestown gang as an upset. But victories over Middle Tennessee Christian and Livingston Academy in the next two weeks suddenly put the Lions in the playoff picture.

A loss to Scott’s Highlanders the second Friday in October failed to deter the Lions. It was a trip to Carthage the following week that was supremely important. Cannon County took full advantage of the opportunity, winning by a 32-10 margin. A win over Upperman in Week 10 secured the district championship, a first for Cannon County football in 30 years.

With last year’s district title, new faces have found their way onto the Cannon County roster. Starters are back at just seven of 22 positions on the team. Fans will definitely need a program for each season games in Woodbury, given the number of new players that will be in this year’s lineup.

After this week’s trip to Spring Hill, Cannon County entertains West Creek and DeKalb County before making a trip to Donelson Christian Academy in Nashville. Other homers come against Middle Tennessee Christian, Scott (homecoming) and Smith County.

Changes in qualifying for playoff spots will require the Lions to finish first or second in the district in order to get an automatic bid to the post season. Teams finishing below second place will have their overall records viewed to gain “wild card” access to the playoffs.

Murphy Fair’s column begins in the Aug. 24 Courier. Further insight into high school football can be found at www.murphyfair.com.

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