For the fourth straight year, I will offer my Spring Top 10 teams in each classification and this week, Class 5A in the cross hairs.
5A will be an interesting classification this season as 24 of the 58 teams in 5A have moved down from 6A.
My Top 10s are based on conversations with coaches in 5A across the state as well as returning personnel that the teams have back in 2015.
If you missed my 1A Spring Top 10 here is the link.
2A Spring Top 10 Link
3A Spring Top 10 Link
4A Spring Top 10 Link
10. Morristown West Trojans
Last Year’s Record- 7-4, lost in first round to Campbell County
Head Coach- Lamar Brown (94-51 overall, 51-28, in seventh year at West)
Offensive Coordinator- Chris Thacker /Alvin Sanders
Defensive Coordinator- Barron Chandler
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 9/8
Offense – Multiple I
Key Returnees- Aaron Jones (QB, Sr.), DeAndre Delaney (RB, Sr.), Michael Woods (OL, Sr.), Mason Earls (WR, Jr.), Sawyer Bruce (LB, Sr.), Calvin Smith (S, Sr.), Preston Long (DB, Sr.), Daymion Blevins (RB, Jr.), Wesley Russell (OL, Sr.), Enoch Vannoy (OL, Sr.), Bryson Blevins (DL, Jr.), Thad Simerly (LB, Jr.), Elijah Brown (LB, Jr.), Hezakyah Rudolph (S, Jr.), Dawson Stanton (FB, Sr.)
Key Losses- Austin Kimbrough (OL), Preston Buchanon (OL), Zach Pell (WR/DB), Chase Collins (K), Taylor Dollar (DE), Kenny Shelton (DE),
Players Looking To Step Up- Nick Smelcer (WR, Sr.), Luke Phillips (WR, Jr.), Jacob Metler (WR, Jr.), Korey Kinsler (DL, Sr.), Shane Knight (DL, Jr.), Thaddeus Grothe (LB, Sr.)
Spring Practice- April 30th – May 15th
Spring Optimism- The Trojans return nine starters back on offense and the backfield will be loaded with return of senior quarterback Aaron Jones and running back DeAndre Delaney.
Spring Concerns- West will have to find starters at both defensive end spots as well as two starters on the offensive line.
9. South Doyle Cherokees
Last Year’s Record- 12-1, lost to Knoxville West in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Clark Duncan (154-109 overall, 32-35 in sixth year at SD)
Offensive Coordinator- John Snyder & Bobby Graham
Defensive Coordinator- Jay Whinery
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 4/3
Offense – Zone Read
Key Returnees- Skyler Rader (DT, Sr.), Jimmy Fowler (OL/DE, Sr.), John Doster (TE/DE, Sr.), Dylan Cameron (WR, Jr.), Keegan Nichols (OL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Mason McNutt (OG/DT), Brody Rollins (QB/FS), Jocquez Bruce (RB/DB), Malik Lundy (RB/DB), Shoan Labeaux (WR/DB), Tomas Williams (LB)
Players Looking To Step Up- Ahmadd Hardin (RB/DB, Soph.), Jake Harper (WR/DB), Dalton Wilson (OL/DL, Sr), Adam Young (OL, Sr)
Spring Practice- May 20-April 7
Spring Optimism- The Cherokees return only seven starters combined but both lines are stacked and will have to lead as they figure out their skill positions.
Spring Concerns- South Doyle will have to figure out in spring practice who will hand the football off and who will tote it.
8. LaVergne Wolverines
Last Year’s Record- 6-6, lost in second round to Oakland in 6A playoffs
Head Coach- Stanton Stevens (98-65 overall, 16-36 in fifth year at LaVergne)
Offensive Coordinator- Ryan Tallent
Defensive Coordinator- Kyle Turnbow
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 8/8
Offense – Spread
Key Returnees- Drew Howard (QB/DB, Sr.), Buni Gulucey (FB, Sr.), Maleik Gray (RB/LB, Jr.), Princeton Fant (WR, Jr.)
Tre’Von Etter (OL, Jr.), CJ Odom (OL, Jr.), Andrew Marks (OL, Sr.), Elijah Barbour (OL/DL, Sr.), Jean Phil (DL, Sr.)
Dazren Dillard (DL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Quin Jernighan (WR), Fred Furlow (FB/LB) RoShea Grays (RB/DB)
Players Looking To Step Up- Aaron Jones (LB, Sr.)
Keytavious Bradley (RB/DB, Jr.), O’Shea Benjamin (OL, Sr.), Maleik White (RB, Fr.)
Spring Practice- April 20- May 6
Spring Optimism- The Wolverines are coming off their first playoff appearance in a decade and they are dropping classifications from 6A to 5A which could play immediate dividends especially with players like Maleik Gray and Princeton Fant.
Spring Concerns-Lavergne’s biggest concern will be who will replace RoShea Grays as the featured running back in 2015.
The three candidates so far are juniors Maleik Gray and Keytavious Bradley as well as talented freshman Maleik White.
7. Independence Eagles
Last Year’s Record- 6-5, lost to Hendersonville in first round of 6A playoffs
Head Coach- Scott Blade (87-29 overall, 15-9 in second year at Independence)
Offensive Coordinator- Scott Blade
Defensive Coordinator- Lance White
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 8/7
Offense – Spread
Key Returnees- Andrew Bunch (QB, Sr, ), Nate Johnson (WR, Sr.), Seth Hunter (WR, Sr.), Adam Swayze (WR, Sr.), Daniel Wright (WR/RB, Sr.), Pete Dorsten (OL, Sr.), Chris Weathers (OL, Sr.), Chris Beavers (DL, Sr.), Michael Weathers (OL, Jr.), Jacob Stoney (LB, Sr.)
Key Losses- Dom Childress (RB), Adam Martin (LB), Anthony Dalton (OL), Jake Heckman (DE), Ben Beavers (SS)
Players Looking To Step Up- Kylan Stribling (DB, Sr.), Landon Guidry (SS, Jr.), Alan Watson (DB, Jr.), Keegan Hudson (DL, Sr.), Jordan Pope (DL, Sr.), Hunter Dupree (LB, Jr.)
Spring Practice- May 4-20
Spring Optimism- Like Lavergne, Independence will drop classifications and return 15 starters including eight on offense with returning quarterback Andrew Bunch and two 1,000 yard receivers in Nate Johnson and Seth Hunter.
Spring Concerns- Coach Scott Blade will look to find starters in the offensive line on offense as well as starters at linebacker on defense.
6. Ooltewah Owls
Last Year’s Record- 11-1, lost to Rhea County in second round
Head Coach- Mac Bryan (20-4 overall, 2nd year at Ooltewah)
Offensive Coordinator- Drew Akins
Defensive Coordinator- Doug Greene
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 4/9
Offense – Multiple/One Back
Key Returnees- Jeremiah Jackson (LB, Sr.), Rashun Freeman (DB, Sr.), Nick Putman (DL, Sr.), Adrian Hall (DB, Sr.), Tyler Reid (LB, Sr.), Lorenzo Pickett (DL, Sr.) AJ Diggs (DB, Sr.), Taylor Stutz (LB, Sr.), Kendall Robinson (DB), Chris Smith (OL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Laslo Toser (K), Anthony Turner (WR), Dennis Lyle (OL), Chris Dyess (OL), Alonzo Blackwell (LB), Edward Montgomery (FS), Kelvin Leon (QB), Frunsez Kendrick (RB)
Players Looking To Step Up- London Elrod (QB, Sr.), Cameron Turner (RB/LB, Jr.), Peyton Oliver (WR, Sr.), Dazion Taylor (WR, Sr.)
SpringPractice- April 27-May 13
Spring Optimism- The Ooltewah back seven players in linebackers and the defensive secondary will be the strength as the Owls welcome back nine starters on defense.
Spring Concerns- As good as the Ooltewah offense was last season, they must replace seven starters including several offensive linemen.
5. Henry County Patriots
Last Year’s Record- 10-3, lost to Ridgeway in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- James Counce Jr. (0-0, 1st year)
Offensive Coordinator- Bert Snow
Defensive Coordinator- John Harrison
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 4/4
Offense – Pro
Key Returnees- Brevin Odom (FB, Sr.), Gunner Osborn (DE, Sr.), Tanner Beasley (LB, Sr.), Evan Harrison (DB, Sr.), Mathew Counce (DE, Sr.)
Key Losses- Chase Henderson (RB), Harrison Foster (OL), Donovan Owens (DE), Shontel Thompson (DB), Cody Hunter (DB), Jake Croasman (QB), Blake Frey (TE), Jeremiah Godbott (RB), Bransen Singelton (WR), Ben Bomar (OL), Houston Forsythe (OL), Scottie Howard (OL), Obi Copeland (OL), Rtario Perkins (RB), Nate Kendell (TE), Jake Hunter (WR)
Players Looking To Step Up- Clay McCord (RB, Jr.), Tommy Thompson (RB, Sr.), Luke Reed (OL, Sr.), Hayden Walker (OL, Sr.), Ben Scarbrough (LB, Sr.), Alex Scrabrough (LB, Sr.), Perry Atkins (S, Sr.)
Spring Practice- Currently having spring practice
Spring Optimism- 2015 could be the year of the Patriot as Henry County have won 5A state titles in both 2011 and 2013 and they return several from last season’s team.
James Counce Jr. takes over the program for his father after Counce Sr. retired during the offseason.
Spring Concerns- The first thing on the Henry County priority list is to find quality starters at both wide receiver and defensive back.
4. Oak Ridge Wildcats
Last Year’s Record- 12-1, lost to Rhea County in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Joe Gaddis (277-117 overall, 19-5 in second year at Oak Ridge)
Offensive Coordinator- Brian White
Defensive Coordinator- Jeff Miner
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 5/5
Offense – Spread
Key Returnees- Jared Verner (OL Sr.), Tee Higgins (WR, Soph.), Jordan Dunbar (WR, Sr.), Logan Fadnek (QB, Sr.), TJ Allison (RB, Sr.), Alex Alcorn (DE, Sr.), Darel Middleton (DE, Sr.), Adam Manookian (LB, Sr.), Matt Warmbrod (LB, Sr.), Gavin Warrington (DB, Sr.)
Key Losses- Ted Mitchell (WR/DB), Isaac Chapman (OL/DL), Tommy Kaczocha (WR/DB), Jemiah Hall (WR/DB), Brandon Bonds (WR/DB), Ricky Chitwood (RB/LB), Shawmain Fleming (OL/DL), Jiminquas Johnson (WR), Ryan Waddell (TE),
Players Looking To Step Up- Jamalcolm Henderson (NG So.), Kyndall Clark (LB Jr.), Tomarrea Hurd (DE Sr.)
Spring Practice- April 20- May 7
Spring Optimism- The Wildcats in the second tenure of Joe Gaddis as coach has athletes everywhere on the field especially with Division I prospects in senior defensive end Darel Middleton and sophomore wide receiver Tee Higgins.
Spring Concerns- Although Oak Ridge has good talent in their first unit, Gaddis is worried about the lack of depth in several key positions such as the offensive line and the defensive secondary as well.
3. Hillsboro Burros
Last Year’s Record- 14-1, lost to Knoxville West in state title game
Head Coach- Craig Clayton (257-120 overall, 27-12 in third year at Hillsboro)
Offensive Coordinator- Craig Clayton
Defensive Coordinator- Dustin Lopez
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 6/3
Offense – Multiple
Key Returnees- DeAndre Alexander (RB, Sr.), Ben Hutch (DT, Jr.), Malcolm Swann (DE, Sr.), Malique Fleming (SS/TE, Sr.), Jay King (WR, Sr.), Chris Chapman (OL, Sr.), Maurice Shaw (OL, Sr.), Julian Houston (OL, Jr.), Hayden Hilt (K, Sr.)
Key Losses- Kyle Phillips (DE), Vincent Perry (RB), Michael Hughes (QB), Juwan Davis (WR), Brent Patterson (NT), Nigel Stanton (DE), Jonathan Young (LB), Michael Mootry (LB), James Crutcher (DB), Shandon Mayes (FS), Montgomery Jackson (OL), Bailey Goodman (OL),
Players Looking To Step Up- Jeremy Hill (RB, Sr.), Daylon Murphy (QB, Sr.), Randolph Wilkerson (RB, Sr.), Roy Hunter (DE, Sr.), Javonte Wiggins (LB, Soph.), Anthony Allen (DB, Sr.), Jon Beets (SS, Jr.), Isaiah Hall (DL, Sr.), Junior Jumeau (OL Sr.), Nathan Berry (OL, Sr.)
Spring Practice- May 1-15
Spring Optimism- The Burros despite graduation losses still have play makers on offense led by seniors DeAndre Alexander at running back and Jay King at wide receiver.
Spring Concerns- Hillsboro will have their work cut for them finding eight quality starters on defense especially in the defensive secondary.
2. Rhea County Golden Eagles
Last Year’s Record- 13-1, lost to Knoxville West in semifinals
Head Coach- Mark Pemberton (186-71 overall, 23-3 in two years at Rhea County)
Offensive Coordinator- Mark Pemberton
Defensive Coordinator- Taylor Ownbey
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 7/6
Offense – Wing T
Key Returnees- Daniel Dotson (QB, Sr.), Cody Bice (RB/DB, Jr.), Mason Stevenson (FB/LB, Jr.), Noel Patterson (WR/DB, Sr.), Tyler Pendleton (LB, Sr.), Ethan Houston (OL/DL, Jr.) , Jonathan Shoemake (OL/DL, Sr.) , Tyler Brown (OT/DT, Jr.) , Jared Edwards (TE/DT, Jr.)
Key Losses- David Loden (WR), Jacob York (RB), Zach Daoust (RB/LB), Bryce Keylon (RB/DB), Jacob Williams (OL/DL), Lee Hill (TE/DE), C. J. Shelton (OL/DL), Logan Hinds (C/DL), Holden Doss (OG/LB)
Players Looking To Step Up- Dylan Smith (RB/LB, Sr.), Eddie Davis (RB/LB, Jr.), James Sharp (WR/DB, Sr.), Gavin Downey (LB, Sr.)
Spring Practice- April 27-May 14
Spring Optimism- The Golden Eagles are excited about returning seven starters on offense in Mark Pemberton’s wing T offense led by senior quarterback Daniel Dotson and junior running back Cody Bice.
Spring Concerns- Rhea will have to find replacements at linebacker as graduation hit the Golden Eagles hard at that position.
1.Knoxville West Rebels
Last Year’s Record- 14-1, won 5A state title
Head Coach- Jeff Harig (91-58 overall, 0-0 1st year at West)
Offensive Coordinator- Jeff Harig
Defensive Coordinator- Kevin Lane
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 6/5
Offense – Spread
Key Returnees- Eric Middleton (LB, Jr.), Cole Skavara (LB, Sr), Christian Romines (RB, Jr.), Tyler Jones (NG, Jr.), Cameron Trainer (TE, Sr.), Rob Williamson (OL, Sr. ), Isaiah Mobley (OL, Sr.), Kay Waefter (K, Sr.), Leonard Humphrey (DE, Jr.), Corbin West (DE, Sr.), Hayden Shymlock (DB, Jr.)
Key Losses- Nathan Cottrell (RB/DB), Seth Marshall (QB/RB), Noah Hoxie (DE/LB), Max Bacon (DB), Alex Burch (FS), Shawn Highfill (LB), Tommy Pridemore (DB)
Players Looking To Step Up- Zach Harshey (QB, Jr.), Dee Bingham (OL, Sr.), Justin Webb (LB, Sr.), Rome Wells (SS, Sr.), Tyreke Cobb (FS, Sr.), Jake Whitfield (DL, Sr.), KJ Jefferson (LB/RB, Jr.), Boom Buchanan (WR, Jr.), Devante Patrick (LB/RB, Soph.), Cal Cook (LB, Soph), K.J. Jefferson (LB/RB, Jr.)
Spring Practice- April 27-May 14
Spring Optimism- The good news is the Rebels are coming off the best season in school history and will start the season as the hunted.
New coach Jeff Harig will have some weapons for his new spread offense as junior running back Christian Romines will lead the offense and linebackers Eric Middleton and Cole Skavara will pace the defense.
Spring Concerns- The Rebels will have to find three starters in the defensive secondary as well as starters on the offensive line If they are to defend their state title.
Eight More Teams To Keep Your Eye On- Campbell County, Centennial, Clarksville, Hendersonville, Memphis Central, Munford, Sevier County and Shelbyville
Contact Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at Examine_Stew