The Spring Top 10s continue today as Class 5A is examined.
My Top 10s are based on conversations with coaches in 5A across the state as well as returning players that the teams have back in 2014.
Their schedule and their district also plays a part in the selection of the teams as well.
I'm old school and I believe that the defending state champion always starts the following season ranked No. 1.
It's a part of the perk of winning a state championship so this spring's No. 1 5A team is Henry County.
10. Campbell County Cougars
Last Year's Record-10-2, lost to Knoxville West in second round
Head Coach- Justin Price
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-9/6
Key Returnees- Ethan Jeffers (QB, Sr.), Trey Torres (WR/DB, Sr.), Paul Courdle (RB, Sr.), Joseph Elkins (WR/DB), Preston Miller (WR, Sr.), Austin Raines (LB, Jr.), Jacob Bunch (WR/DB, Jr.), Peyton Webb (OL/DL, Soph.)
Key Losses- Nick Bailey (LB), Andrew Evans (OL), Corey Phillips (WR), Christian Monday (DT)
Potential Breakout Star-Jacob Bunch. The diminutive junior wide receiver is the perfect weapon for quarterback Ethan Jeffers in the Cougars spread offense.
Spring Practice- May 5-22
Spring Optimism- The return of Jeffers (3,324 passing yards, 33 TDs) at quarterback to trigger the offense as well as nine starters back on the offensive side is big for Campbell County.
Spring Concerns- Finding someone who did as much all around as Nick Bailey did is a big spring key for the Cougars.
Junior Austin Raines will be first crack at replacing Bailey.
9. Melrose Golden Wildcats
Last Year's Record- 8-4, lost to Ridgeway in second round
Head Coach- Eddie Woods
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-8/6
Key Returnees- Tony Pollard (RB, Sr.), Johnathan Johnson (WR, Sr.), Kevon Hall (ATH, Sr.), Dequan Dallas (FS/WR, Soph.), Deushawn Jones (WR, Sr.), Johnnie Thomas (DT, Jr.), Kevin Jones (DT, Jr.), Kendrick Jones (ATH, Soph.), Deangelo Howse (G/DT, Jr.)
Key Losses- Cornelius Sturghill (WR/DB), Dell Porter (DE), Justin Brooks (OL), LeEarl Patterson (QB), Jaylan Burns (LB)
Potential Breakout Star-Dequan Dallas. The sophomore will play on both sides of the ball at free safety on defense and will help in the passing game at wide receiver.
Spring Practice- Apr. 28- May 9
Spring Optimism- There is a lot of optimism surrounding the Melrose as they improved from 0-10 in 2012 to
8-4 last season.
Having wide receiver Johnathan Johnson back is key on an offense that returns eight starters.
Spring Concerns- The Golden Wildcats have to replace some very good players on defense especially on the defensive line and the secondary.
8. Rhea County Golden Eagles
Last Year's Record- 10-2, lost to Cleveland in second round
Head Coach- Mark Pemberton
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-7/9
Offense- Wing T
Key Returnees- Austin Thurmond (QB, Sr.), David Loden (WR, Sr.), Jacob York (RB, Sr.), Cody Bice (RB/DB, Soph.), Mason Stevenson (FB/LB, Soph.), Noel Patterson (WR/DB, Jr.), Zach Daoust (RB/LB, Sr.), Bryce Keylon (RB/DB, Sr.), Jacob Williams (OL/DL, Sr.), Lee Hill (TE/DE, Sr.), C. J. Shelton (OL/DL, Sr.), Logan Hinds (C/DL, Sr.)
Key Losses- Austin Dotson (QB), Demetrius Patterson (WR), Taylor Jenkins (TE), Joby Berry (RB), Daniel Cochran (OL/DL)
Potential Breakout Star-Cody Bice. The sophomore will be able to get some carries as Mark Pemberton will use multiple ball carriers and Bice could be a game changer.
Spring Practice- April 28-May 15
Spring Optimism- The Golden Eagles improved eight games from 2-8 to 10-2 in Mark Pemberton's first year in Evensville.
The defense returns nine starters and looks to be stout again in 2014.
Spring Concerns- How quickly can new quarterback Austin Thurmond pick up the offense and be successful like Austin Dodson was in 2014?
7. Hillsboro Burros
Last Year's Record- 6-6, lost to Northeast in second round
Head Coach- Craig Clayton
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-9/9
Key Returnees- Kyle Phillips (DE/OL, Sr.), Vincent Perry (RB, Sr.), Michael Hughes (QB, Sr.), Ben Hutch (DT, Soph.), Brent Patterson (NT, Sr.), Nigel Stanton (DE, Sr.), Jonathan Young (LB, Sr.), Michael Mootry (LB, Sr.), Malique Fleming (LB/SS, Jr.), James Crutcher (DB, Sr.), Shandon Mayes (FS, Sr.), Jeremy Hill (RB, Jr.), Juwan Davis (WR, Sr.), Jay King (WR, Jr.), Montgomery Jackson (OL, Sr.), Bailey Goodman (OL, Sr.), CJ Lee (OL, Jr.), Roy Hunter (DE, Jr.)
Key Losses- Caleb Wagner (OL), Logan Burns (DB), Porter Streador (S), Bradley Broady (OL)
Potential Breakout Star-Jeremy Hill. He's not a big guy (5-9, 170) but his speed makes him dangerous and teaming with backfield mate Vincent Perry could make Hill's year a big one in 2014.
Spring Practice- May 1-15
Spring Optimism- The Burros return 18 starters nine on each side which is a reason to be excited, but having players including defensive end Kyle Phillips returning from injury is a big reason to be happy.
Spring Concerns- The biggest concern for Hillsboro is gaining depth at virtually every position.
The injury big hit the Burros hard in 2013 and another season of injuries would definitely derail a season that has a lot of promise.
6. Ooltewah Owls
Last Year's Record-9-3, lost to East Hamilton in second round
Head Coach- Mac Bryan
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-9/5
Offense- Multiple/One Back
Key Returnees-Edward Montgomery (WR, Sr.), Laslo Toser (K, Sr.), Anthony Turner (WR, Sr.), Dennis Lyle (OL, Sr.), Chris Dyess (OL, Sr.), Jeremiah Jackson (LB, Jr.), Rashun Freeman (DB, Jr.), Nick Putman (DL, Jr.), Adrian Hall (DB, Jr.), Tyler Reid (LB, Jr.), Alonzo Blackwell (LB, Sr.), Edward Hayes (FS, Sr.), Kelvin Leon (QB, Sr.), Demontas Earls (RB, Sr.), London Elrod (QB, Jr.), Frunsez Kendrick (RB, Sr.)
Key Losses- Brody Binder (QB), Desmond Pittman (RB), Mike Williams (WR), David Nobles (OL), Dalton Johnson (OL), David Strickland (DL), Mike A. Williams (DE), Quinton Slade (DL)
Potential Breakout Star-Frunsez Kendrick. Kendrick will get his chance to strut his stuff after Desmond Pittman was the feature back in 2013.
Spring Practice- April 28- May 15
Spring Optimism- The return of kicker Laslo Tozer is a big relief because he is a weapon on special teams.
The Owls return nine starters on offense which will help new quarterback Kelvin Leon.
Spring Concerns- The Owls return only five starters on defense and will need to find three starters along the defensive line.
5. Cleveland Blue Raiders
Last Year's Record-10-4, lost to Knoxville West in Semifinals
Head Coach- Ron Crawford
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-7/4
Key Returnees- Karon Kennedy (OL/DL, Sr.), Austin Massey (QB/LB, Sr.), Rackwon Bunion (RB, Sr.), T. J. Parker (RB, Sr.), Eric Goodwin (WR, Sr.), John Gaither (OL/DL, Sr.) Andrew Lowe (OL/DL, Sr.) Jonathan Cousineau (OL/DL, Sr.), Trey Simpson (OL/DL, Sr.), Jay McIntyre (WR/DB, Sr.), Will Hilliker (WR/DB, Sr.) Isiah Beaty (WR/DB, Sr.) Jake Gibson QB/RB/LB, Sr.), Zack Lee (P, Sr.), Oscar Galvan (PK, Jr.), Rod Dennard (TE/DE/LB, Sr.), Zack Brammer (DE\OL, Sr.)
Key Losses- D.J. Jones (WR/DB), Jonathan Terrerro (LB), Jackson Earle (WR/DB), Kimsey Bell (DE), Dalten McDonald (DE), Robert MacMahon (OL/DL), Austin Herink (QB), Darrius Pillow (LB), Tyler Davis (WR), Parker Smith (WR),
Potential Breakout Star-Jay McIntyre. The senior wide receiver had a limited role last season but coach Ron Crawford is expecting big things from him this season after the graduation of the Blue Raiders top two receivers.
Spring Practice- May 1
Spring Optimism- The Blue Raiders return seven starters on offense including the two headed monster of T. J. Parker (1,256 rushing yards) and Rackwon Bunion (794 rushing yards) in the backfield.
Spring Concerns- Depth along both the offensive and defensive lines is something Crawford will look to build during the spring.
4. Oak Ridge Wildcats
Last Year's Record-7-4, lost to East Hamilton in first round
Head Coach- Joe Gaddis
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-7/7
Key Returnees- Ted Mitchell (WR/DB, Sr.), Isaac Chapman (OL/DL, Sr.), Tommy Kaczocha (WR/DB, Sr.), Jemiah Hall (WR/DB, Sr.), Brandon Bonds (WR/DB, Sr.), Adam Manookian (RB/LB, Jr.), Ricky Chitwood (RB/LB, Sr.), Brandon Nickle (PK/P, Jr.), Matt Warmbrod (LB/DE, Sr.), Isiah Jones (RB,Jr.), Shawmain Fleming (OL/DL, Sr.), Jiminquas Johnson (WR, Sr.), Ryan Waddell (TE, Sr.), Tee Higgins (WR, Soph.), TJ Allison (RB/LB, Jr.),
Jordan Dunbar (ATH, Jr.)
Key Losses- Jaylin Henderson (QB),
Tim Grabenstein (OL), Harry Boston (OL), Richard Turner (S), Hunter Sumner (P), Blake Goins (WR/DB), Kyler Jones (OL/DL)
Potential Breakout Star-Tee Higgins. coach Joe Gaddis is excited about the potential of the Higgins (6-2, 175) because of his size and speed to be a game breaker.
Spring Practice- April 28
Spring Optimism- After a seven win season in his first year back at Oak Ridge, Gaddis thinks in 2014 season could be a big one for the Wildcats.
Isiah Jones returns to lead the ground game while Ted Mitchell and Brandon Bonds will carry the passing game and Brandon Nickle will be a weapon as a kicker and punter on special teams.
Spring Concerns- Finding a quarterback to be at the controls of the spread offense will be a question that has to answered as well as finding starters along the offensive line.
3. Ridgeway Roadrunners
Last Year's Record-7-6, lost to Henry County in Quarterfinals
Head Coach- Duron Sutton
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-6/6
Offense- Multiple I
Key Returnees- Cameron Jones (OT, Sr.), Braxton Conrad (QB, Sr.), Earl Harrison (RB, Sr.), Katavious Taylor (WR, Sr.), Marquette Murdock (TE, Sr.), Terrell Houston (DB, Sr.), Deharrius Smedley (DB, Sr.), Elontae Bateman (DT, Sr.), Terry Fultz (DE, Sr.)
Key Losses- Rodrikus Rubin (OL), Toreano Barnes Jr. (WR), Justin Byrd (OL), Josh Lyons (SS), Leroy Spells (LB/DE),
Potential Breakout Star-Katavious Taylor. Taylor has the skill and speed to thrive in coach Duron Sutton's offense.
Spring Practice- April 28-May 15
Spring Optimism- The Roadrunners have a ton of athletes returning to the fold especially with Braxton Conrad at quarterback, Earl Harrison at running back and defensive end Terry Fultz leading the defense.
Spring Concerns- The Roadrunners will look to find some offensive linemen to start and well as defensive linemen depth.
2. Knoxville West Rebels
Last Year's Record- 13-2, lost to Henry County in BCB Finals
Head Coach- Scott Cummings
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-6/5
Offense- Split Back Veer
Key Returnees- Nathan Cottrell (RB/DB, Sr.), Seth Marshall (QB/RB, Sr.), Noah Hoxie (DE/LB, Sr.), Max Bacon (DB, Sr.), Cameron Trainer (TE, Jr.), Blake Ensley (OL, Jr.), Ryan Perry (OL, Sr.), Isaiah Mobley (OL, Jr.), Shawn Highfill (LB, Sr.), Tommy Pridemore (DB, Sr.), Alex Burch (FS, Sr.), Eric Middleton (LB, Soph.),
Jeremiah Russell (WR, Soph.),
Hayden Shymlock (DB, Soph.),
Tyler Jones (NG, Soph.), Christian Romines (RB, Soph.)
Key Losses- Justin Hodge (RB), Cody Underwood (LB), Khalil Watford (LB), Thomas Turner (WR), Trey Davis (WR/DB), Leon Humphrey (OL), Kelton Johnson (OL), Tywan Hall (NG), Blaise Chait (DE), Jeff Bronner (LB),
Potential Breakout Star-Eric Middleton. Middleton is a youngster that coach Scott Cummings is excited about and for good reason.
Last season as a freshman, Middleton started a couple of games including the 5A state title game.
Spring Practice- April 28
Spring Optimism- Having quarterback Seth Marshall back to run the split back veer offense is huge as well as having running back Nathan Cottrell back to scare defenses with his burner speed and athleticism as the Rebels are loaded to make another deep run.
Spring Concerns- The biggest hole that the Rebels have to fill will be at linebacker where they to replace three starters.
1. Henry County Patriots
Last Year's Record- 15-0, beat Knoxville West for state title
Head Coach- James Counce
Returning Starters on Offense/Defense-3/6
Key Returnees- Brevin Odom (FB, Jr.), Chase Henderson (RB, Sr.), Harrison Foster (OL, Sr.), Gunner Osborn (DE, Jr.), Donovan Owens (DE, Sr.), Tanner Beasley (LB, Jr.), Shontel Thompson (DB, Sr.), Cody Hunter (DB, Sr.), Evan Harrison (DB, Jr.), Jake Croasman (QB, Sr.), Blake Frey (TE, Sr.), Jeremiah Godbott (RB, Sr.), Bransen Singelton (WR, Sr.), Ben Bomar (OL, Sr.), Houston Forsythe (OL, Sr.), Scottie Howard (OL, Sr.), Obi Copeland (OL, Sr.), Rtario Perkins (RB, Sr.)
Key Losses-Colton Randolph (QB),
Nathaniel Godbott (RB/LB), Dennis Tharpe Jr. (LB), Justin Ramos (FS),
Vince Vine (WR), Michael Etheridge (TE), Brandon Donaldson (WR), Jaye Gore (OL), Jeffrey Marshall (OL), Drake Walker (OL), Jordan Wade (OL), Griffin Wood (DL),
Potential Breakout Star-Jake Croasman. Croasman watched as Colton Randolph ran the offense and Henry County to a state title, now it's Croasman's turn to etch his name in Henry County lore.
Spring Practice- May 9
Spring Optimism- Although they only return three starters on offense, they do being back both 1,000 rushers from a year ago in seniors Chase Henderson and Jeremiah Godbott.
Also on defense look for junior linebacker Tanner Beasley (127 tackles as a sophomore) and defensive back Shontel Thompson (7 INTs) to continue to thrive in the Patriots 3-4 defense.
Spring Concerns- The Patriots have to rebuild their offensive line and have to replace nine starters on offense.
They will also look to replace some big play linebackers on defense as well.
Five More Teams That Were Considered For Top 10 In Alphabetical Order- Anderson County, Clarksville, Columbia, Gallatin, South Doyle
Contact Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at Examine_Stew