Football gets started in Southeast Tennessee on Friday, but the number of rival games on tap this week is zero.
After going 0-for-2 in state championship games two seasons ago, the Chattanooga area redeemed itself in 2010 and the area has teams that could bring home gold balls in 2011.
South Pittsburg is again a favorite in 1A.
Boyd-Buchanan has a strong club playing at the levy off Brainerd Road and should be a factor in 2A.
Signal Mountain captured the 2A title last season and jumps up to 4A where the Eagles still look potent enough to make a run.
Baylor lost a fourth quarter lead in the D-II AA state final before losing to Ensworth and the Red Raiders are hungry to return to Cookeville.
In addition, Bradley Central and Cleveland are both loaded in offensive threats and could both be surprise teams come playoff time.
Top Five Games of Week Zero:
1. Soddy-Daisy at Baylor
Senior Matthew Oellerich takes over for Jacob Huesman at quarterback and looks to be very confident and poised. Soddy-Daisy will have to stop the Red Raiders running attack that features George Porter running behind Vanderbilt commitment Barrett Gouger. Porter is coming off a 952-yard, nine-touchdown season as a freshman.
Soddy-Daisy likes to throw the ball, but Baylor had better get ready for a dose of Cedric Edwards. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder with sub-4.5 speed was barely on anyone's radar going into last season. However, after rushing for 2,073 yards and 21 touchdowns a year ago the Red Raiders will have to stop him to win.
Sophomore quarterback Brett Standifer and 6-foot-2 senior receiver Talon Harris can move the ball down the field.
2. Polk County at Bradley Central
Bradley Central is coming off of a 9-3 season in 2010 including a 26-16 win over Polk County in the season opener.
The Bears return junior quarterback Bryce Copeland, who threw for 1,817 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. He will have All-State receiver and Division I prospect James Stovall (1,081 yards, 9 TDs) to throw to and Justin Houston (1,115 offensive yards, 10 TDs) to handoff to.
Bradley has a strong offensive line anchored by senior Patrick Benson (6-3, 300) and junior Austin Sanders (6-5, 290), who has committed to Tennessee.
Polk County lost starting quarterback Jared Allen, Michael Hargarves and Logan Swafford. However, the boys from Benton return 13 starters.
3. East Hamilton at Signal Mountain
Ted Gatewood's East Hamilton Hurricanes have improved, but taking on the defending 2A state champions who averaged 51 points per game in 2010 in the season opener will be a task.
Signal Mountain appears to be as strong offensively with highly touted Reese Phillips taking over at quarterback. Phillips will have the Eagles top receivers Will Queen and Jon Patton back.
The Signal Mountain offense also returns Andrew Price (879 yards, 10 TDs) and Zack Bowman (13 TDs) and transfer Tim McClendon is a 6-2, 242-pounder who will add to the Eagles strength. The Eagles also have four of the five starters are back from a very good offensive line.
East Hamilton averaged 19 points per game in 2010 and returns offensive threat Logan Jackson.
The Canes are still young, but looked good in the Best of Preps Jamboree in Chattanooga last week against Rhea County.
4. Powell at Rhea County
Powell could make a run at the 5A state championship this season with star back Dy'Shawn Mobley carrying the football.
The Panthers have an athletic quarterback in senior Dustin McPhetridge who will have his top three receivers returning.
Rhea County begins a new era under new coach Doug Greene. Senior Luke Everett played running back in 2010 but will step in as the Golden Eagles quarterback this season.
Everett will have senior wide outs Timmy Loden and Issac Roddy to throw to. The offensive line has some familiar faces back, including Josh York, Brendan Vega, Allan Cooley, and Jacob Revis,
5. Chattanooga Christian at Boyd Buchanan
Coach Grant Reynolds has a big strong experienced team ready to host Chattanooga Christian.
Nevertheless, the Bucs are still a relatively young.
Boyd-Buchanan made a run in the 2A state playoffs before falling to Signal Mountain in the semifinals.
The Bucs outscored their district opponents by a combined 94-7 and return senior running back Chase Reed (1,118 yards, 17 TDs), and a beefy offensive line that includes senior Phil McGuire (5-10, 260) and three-year junior starter Malik Brewer (6-3, 320).
Sophomore Jim Cardwell is back at quarterback after starting seven games in 2010.
The defense has rising starters on the line, including ends Austin Bailey and Colton Robinson.
Chattanooga Christian will begin its third season of varsity football. Head coach Barry Loyal expects his squad to compete for a playoff spot after just missing out on a postseason berth a year ago.
Senior receiver Beau Simmons (6-3, 200) averaged more than 17 yards a catch last fall and led the city with over 1,200 yards receiving.
But Boyd-Buchanan throttled the Cleveland offense in the Best of Preps Jamboree last week and picked off two of Chad Voytik's passes in just a quarter.
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Top Five Teams
2. Signal Mountain
Hosts East Hamilton
3. Bradley Central
Hosts Polk County
4. Boyd Buchanan
Hosts Chattanooga Christian
5. South Pittsburg
The Chattanooga area has produced some solid college quarterbacks over the years, but the 2011 season could be the bumper crop for signal-callers. Chad Voytik (Cleveland) is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, but he will be far from the only big-time talent at that position in the Chattanooga area. Matthew Oellerich will take over from Chattanooga signee Jacob Huesman at Baylor, while promising junior Reese Phillips inherits the reins from Hogan Whitmire at Signal Mountain. Other names to watch include Bledsoe County's Cody Holloway, Bradley Central's Bryce Copeland, Notre Dame transfer Josh Moore and Tullahoma's Jared Davis.