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See also: 2014 Class 1A Spring Top 10

Late February can only mean one thing, my Spring Top 10 series.

For the third straight year, I will offer my Spring Top 10 teams in each classification starting with Class 1A this week.

My Top 10s are based on conversations with coaches in 1A across the state as well as returning personnel that the teams have back in 2014.

Their schedule and their district also plays a part in the selection of the teams as well.

10. Cloudland Highlanders
Last Year's Record- 9-2, lost to Midway in first round
Head Coach-Brock Pittman
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-7/7
Key Returnees-Zac Benefield (FS, Sr.), Austin Whitehead (QB, Jr.), Colby Birchfield (RB/DB, Jr.), Ethan Lusk (OL/DL, Sr.)
Key Losses-Mason Carnett (RB), Ashley Haynes (OL/DL),
Potential Breakout Star- Ethan Lusk. Lusk isn't a huge offensive linemen (6-0, 230) but he has quick feet and good fundamentals and should be the leader of the line.
Spring Practice- May 5-15
Spring Optimism-Having Zac Benefield back to lead the Highlander secondary is huge. Benefield is a hitter that loves contact as evidenced by second straight seasons of over 100 tackles.

Also returning Austin Whitehead returning at quarterback is big for The Cloudland spread offense as well.

Spring Concerns-The Highlanders will have to replace the bulk of their offensive and defensive lines which includes All-Region Mason Carnett.

9. Greenback Cherokees
Last Year's Record- 7-5, lost to Coalfield in 2nd round
Head Coach-Jason Hicks
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense- 5/6
Key Returnees-Jordan Anderson (RB/FS, Sr.), Braxton Fox (K, Sr.), Samuel McCloud (QB, Sr.), Hunter Willis (QB, Soph)., Anthony Dyer (OL/DL, Sr.), Jaden Harris (OG/LB, Jr.), Tanner Hanley (ATH, Sr.), Tanner Laforce (RB/DE, Sr.), Ian Milsaps (OL/DL, Jr.),
Key Losses-Brock Moore (WR), Hunter Cope (WR/S), Lucas Titlow (OL/DL), Dillan Jones (QB)
Potential Breakout Star- Tylor Jones. Cherokee head coach Jason Hicks thinks that Jones can be a big time contributor on both sides of the football.
Spring Practice- May 5-16
Spring Optimism- Having athlete Jordan Anderson returning to lead the running attack as well as the two headed monster of Samuel McCloud and Hunter Willis to lead the team at quarterback.

Spring Concerns- The Cherokees are hoping that sophomore Tylor Jones can fit into the Greenback spread offense like the graduated Hunter Cope did during his career.

8. Gordonsville Tigers
Last Year's Record-5-6, lost to Fayetteville in first round
Head Coach-Ron Marshall
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-8/7
Offense- Multiple Pro I
Key Returnees-Noah Smotherman (QB, Sr.), Kyle Ragsdale (FB/DE, Sr.), Codie Quarles (OL, Sr.), Taylor Hunt (LB, Sr.), Dusten Holder (S, Jr.), Billy Newton (DB, Sr.)
Key Losses-Kaelin Cason (RB), Zac Jackson (WR/DB), Austin Vaden (WR), Dalton Stagsdill (OL/DL), Trevor Glover (OL), Parrish Little (DE),
Potential Breakout Star-Dusten Holder. He's not a big guy (5-10, 175) but he plays that way and will come up to strike you from his safety spot.
Spring Practice- April 27-May 15
Spring Optimism-Having the backfield duo of quarterback Noah Smotherman and Kyle Ragsdale back is huge for the Tigers who battled a rash of injuries which derailed their hopes of a repeat last season.

Spring Concerns-The Tigers will need to find replacements and depth on both the offensive and defensive lines to survive a tough district that features the defending 2A state champion Trousdale County.

7. Wayne County Wildcats
Last Year's Record-7-5, lost to Columbia Academy in second round
Head Coach-Rick Rice
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-7/7
Offense-Split Back Veer
Key Returnees-Preston Rice (QB, Soph.),
Peyton Bratcher (OL/DL, Sr.), Kaden Davis (OL/DL, Sr.), Chase Camfield (WR/DB, Sr.)
Lukas Pierce (TE/DL, Sr.), Tristen Haggard (OL/DL, Sr.), Lucas Ray (RB/OLB, Jr.), Logan Cole (RB, Jr.), Joe Birchett (RB/MLB, Soph.), Chase Turnbow (RB/LB, Sr.)
Dawson Mathis (WR/DB, Soph.)
Key Losses-Keeton Kelly (WR/DB), Daniel Devers (FS), Tony Vanetten (RB/LB), Chandler Prince (OL/MLB), Jacob Bevis (RB), Tyler Woodside (TE/OLB)
Potential Breakout Star-Lucas Ray. Rick Rice believes that big things could be on the horizon for Ray who as a junior could have a big playmaker for the Wildcats in 2014.
Spring Practice- May 5-12
Spring Optimism-Preston Rice, who's the youngest son of head coach Rick Rice returns to take over full time as the team's quarterback as a sophomore.

The younger Rice will breathe easier knowing that his offensive line will be led by seniors Peyton Bratcher and Kaden Davis.

Spring Concerns- Rick Rice is hoping that one of his running backs in Lucas Ray, Logan Cole, Joe Birchett or Chase Turnbow will be able to step up and put up the numbers that Jacob Bevis put up in 2013.

6. Dresden Lions
Last Year's Record- 7-4, lost to Humboldt in second round
Head Coach- Vacant At Press Time
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-6/4
Defense- 3-4
Key Returnees-Dillon Jolley (DL, Sr.), Dresser Winn (QB, Soph.), Brice Williams (DB, Soph.), Alex Warren (LB, Jr), Quincy McDonald (WR, Soph.), Dylan Yates (RB, Soph.),
Key Losses-Bobby Hampton (DL), Austin Daniel (LB), Ben Kendall (LB), Joey Caldwell (LB/DB), Blake Stoker (DB), Colter Swafford (DB), Torres Washington (DB), Todd Morgan(OL), Nick Cobb(OL)
Potential Breakout Star- Dylan Yates. Yates is a weapon that can stretch the field and look for the coaches to put him all over the field to see where they can use him in a mismatch.
Spring Practice- To Be Announced because of coaching opening
Spring Optimism- The Lions have a ton of young talent returning led by a bunch of sophomores including quarterback Dresser Winn, defensive back Brice Williams, wide receiver Quincy McDonald and running back Dylan Yates.

Spring Concerns- Obviously not having a head football coach as Keith Hodge resigned recently to go to Murray (KY), is a concern.

On the field, the Lions will have to replace seven starters on defense including three of four linebackers in their 3-4 set.

5. Columbia Academy Bulldogs
Last Year's Record- 10-2, lost to Nashville Christian in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Charlie Lansdell
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-7/7
Offense- Spread
Defense- 4-3
Key Returnees-Jackson Cary (QB, Sr., Zach Whitley (OL/DL, Sr.), Ethan Foster (FB/ LB, Sr.), Jalen Anderson (OL/DL, Sr.), Taylor Thompson (WR/DB, Soph.), Hudson Primm (RB/LB, Soph.), Nathan Williams (OL/DL, Soph.), Scott Lentz (WR/DB, Soph.), Noah Brock (QB/DB, Fr.), Jacob Atkins (WB/DB, Soph.)
Key Losses-Nick Hayes (OL/DL), Michael Thomas (OL/DL), Hooper Johnson (OL/DL,), Bailey Davenport (OL/DL), Jeremy Shires (TE/DE), JD Davis (FB/LB), Drew Thornton (WR/SS)
Potential Breakout Star- Noah Brock. How good of an athlete can Brock be? A big one considering coach Charlie Lansdell wants to get Brock and senior starting quarterback Jackson Cary on the field at the same time.
Spring Practice- April 21-30
Spring Optimism The Bulldogs return senior quarterback Jackson Cary who was an was the region's Offensive Most Valuable Player in 2013.

The return of Taylor Thompson will be a big boost as well as he had a terrible Freshman campaign in 2013, so much so was the district 11-A MVP.

Spring Concerns- In order to have another successful season, the Bulldogs will have to replace a wealth of experience on both sides of the line.

4. Nashville Christian Eagles
Last Year's Record-11-2, lost to Union City in Semifinals
Head Coach- Jeff Brothers
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-6/8
Offense-Multiple I
Defense- 3-3-5
Key Returnees-Daniel Bituli (RB, Jr.), Alex Givens (OL, Sr.), Mickey Martin (DB, Soph.), Malcolm Swann (DL, Jr.), Grant Williams (LB, Jr.), Jaylon Jackson(TE/DE, Jr.), Nathan Hargrove (LB, Jr.), Kyle Tidwell (QB, Jr.)
Key Losses-Ryan Young (QB, Sr.),
Houston Downey (WR), Trent Mueller (LB)
Potential Breakout Star- Mickey Martin. The Freshman defensive back made a big impression last season with seven interceptions and now that he will start at wide receiver and defensive back Coach Jeff Brothers thinks the sky is the limit for Martin.
Spring Practice- May 13-23
Spring Optimism- The Eagles are coming off back to back Semifinal appearances and a 22-5 record over the past two seasons.

The optimism that Jeff Brothers has injected into the program upon his arrival four years ago has put the Eagles on the map in 1A and they are a state player now.

The playoff momentum begins with senior offensive lineman Alex Givens and ends with junior bruising back Daniel Bituli.

Spring Concerns- Can junior Kyle Tidwell step in and take over the offense as seamlessly as Ryan Young did the last two seasons?

Can juniors Grant Williams and Nathan Hargrove take over the defense and lead the way that Trent Mueller has the last three years?

3. Coalfield Yellow Jackets
Last Year's Record-9-4, lost to South Pittsburg in Semifinals
Head Coach-Keith Henry
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-3/4
Key Returnees-Zach Stewart (OL/DE, Sr., UT commitment), Addison Bible (RB/DB Sr.), Andrew Clore (RB, Jr.), John Ervin (ATH/DB, Jr.), Josh Turpin (OL/DL, Sr.), Blake Hall (OL/LB, Jr.), Kyle Vanwitzenburg (TE/QB/LB, Jr.), Peyton Tinker (WR/DB, Sr.)
Key Losses-Ryan Hill (QB/LB), Benson Napier (OL/DL), Zach Moore (OL), Brent Keener (LB/RB), Brett Keener (LB/RB), Joe Potter (OL/DL), Zach Wilkins (WR/DB)
Potential Breakout Star-John Ervin. Ervin is a Jack of all trades and will line up possibly at quarterback, running back and wide receiver on offense and will start at defensive back on defense.
Spring Practice- May 1-9
Spring Optimism- The Yellow Jackets return a good nucleus to building around as Zach Stewart (UT commitment) returns to lead both the offensive and defensive lines while running back Addison Bible will return after a horrific injury cut his junior season short.

Junior running back Andrew Clore proved he is a weapon as he took over for Bible after his injury.

Spring Concerns- Coalfield will have to find 15 starters especially in the trenches and at linebacker.

Finding a signal carrier to replace Ryan Hill will be at the top of Coach Henry's list as well.

Three guys in the mix so far as Kyle Vanwitzenburg, John Ervin and Parker McKinney will compete for the job.

2. South Pittsburg Pirates
Last Year's Record-11-2, lost to Union City in 1A Title Game
Head Coach- Tim Moore
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-2/4
Offense- Wing T
Key Returnees-Kitt Grider (QB, Sr.), Corbin Fitzgerald (RB/FS, Sr.), Triston Adams (RB/LB, Sr.), Jared Jones (FB, Soph.), Chase Blevins (RB/LB, Jr.), McKenna Blevins (DE/TE, Sr.), Josh Long (OL/DL, Sr.), Cody Fehr (OL, Soph.), Trabaie Conner (OL/LB, Jr.)
Key Losses-JaJuan Lankford (RB/DB), Khalil Mitchell (RB/LB), Payne Mosley (LB/TE), Stephon Mitchell (OL), Ricky Fehr (OL/DL), Kyan Mitchell (OL/DL), Anthony Sellers (WR), Kyle Blevins (LB)
Potential Breakout Star-Cody Fehr. The more you talk to Pirate coaches, the more they tell you Fehr is the next great South Pittsburg lineman.
Spring Practice- May 5-16
Spring Optimism- South Pittsburg is well South Pittsburg regardless of what they lose, the Pirates will always have the next man up step up and play well.

Having Kitt Grider back under center to stabilize the offense that only returns two starters is a good place to start as well as having senior running backs Corbin Fitzgerald, Tristan Adams and junior Chase Blevins to tote the football.

Spring Concerns- The Pirates will have to rebuild the offensive line as they graduated all five starters as well as finding three of four linebackers on defense.

1. Union City Tornadoes
Last Year's Record-12-1, Beat South Pittsburg for 1A state title
Head Coach- Darren Bowling
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-9/9
Offense- Split Back Veer
Defense- Multiple
Key Returnees-Garrett Walton (QB, Sr.), JaVonte Moffatt (RB/DB, Sr.), Ricky Henry (FB/ DL, Sr.), Alex Reid (RB/DB, Sr.), Case Cook (WR, Jr.), Tristan Jernigan (OL/DL, Sr.), Kane Taylor (OL/LB, Sr.), Zach Parker (OL, Sr.), Cameron Avery (OL, Sr.), Jamie Pirtle (DL, Sr.), Jamison Blackwell (LB, Jr.), Mason Parker (LB, Sr.), D'Carrious Stephens (DB, Jr.)
Key Losses-Iroa Smith (WR/LB), Justice Walker (OL/DL)
Potential Breakout Star-D'Carrious Stephens. All Stephens did as a sophomore was start in the Tornado defensive secondary as a sophomore and Darren Bowling thinks he will only get better with more reps.
Spring Practice- May 1-9
Spring Optimism- The Tornadoes return 18 of 22 starters which is scary for the rest of 1A and confidence is through the roof in the Union City program right now.

Union City returns the entire offensive backfield including 2,000 yard rusher in bulldozer Ricky Henry, JaVonte Moffatt and quarterback Garrett Walton.

Spring Concerns- Obviously staying injury free is big but every team need that luck, the bigger question can the Tornadoes stay hungry as they now will get everyone's best game week after week as they are now the hunted.

Five More Teams That Were Considered For Top 10 In Alphabetical Order- Clarksville Academy, Fayetteville, Humboldt, Jo Byrns, Sunbright

Contact Donovan at and follow him on Twitter at Examine_Stew

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