This week, our team is tackling a full 20-game slate and there’s a little more division among the ranks than we’ve seen in past weeks.
Before we delve into the picks, let’s look at the records for our panel members where (for the first time in recent memory) we had a perfect mark.
WHERE THEY STAND
Hats off to sports director Joe Avento who went a perfect 17-0 a week ago to move into a tie for second place on the Kingsport panel.
Jeff Birchfield (77-23 overall) wasn’t far behind at 15-2, besting Douglas Fritz (14-3) by a game to claim sole possession of the KTN lead.
Fritz and Avento (both 76-24) share second place for the time being, with Cook (74-26) and Mays (69-31) rounding out the standings.
In Johnson City, Birchfield (58-20) also holds the overall lead. Avento posted an 11-1 mark a week ago, but still stands in last place for the season. Birchfield, Fritz and Jamie Combs all went 10-2 a week ago, while Cook went 9-3. Birchfield’s 58-20 mark gives him two-game lead over Fritz (56-22) with Combs (55-23), Cook (54-24) and Avento (53-25) rounding out the season standings.
In Kingsport, the crew agrees on 13 games this week:
🏈 HIGH SCHOOL: All five panelists are picking Dobyns-Bennett over Jefferson County, Sullivan South over Union County, Cherokee over Cocke County, Daniel Boone over Morristown East, Tennessee High over Volunteer, Greeneville over Sullivan Central, George Wythe over Gate City, Union over Paintsville, Ky., Castlewood over Northwood and J.I. Burton over Eastside.
🏈 COLLEGE: The Kingsport panel is all in for: Georgia over Tennessee, Miami over Virginia Tech and Lenoir Rhyne over UVa-Wise.
LONE WOLF PICKS
There are three lone wolf picks this week:
🏈 TRUSTING THE TOPPERS: Fritz, who has covered Science Hill football all year, is flying solo by putting his trust in the Toppers over Farragut. The rest of the crew is sailing with the Admirals. Our panel: Farragut, 4-1.
🏈 A PATRIOT AMONG US: Cook is banking on the Sullivan East Patriots to wrangle some Grizzlies. But he’s the only one. Our panel: Grainger, 4-1.
🏈A WARRIOR WILL LEAD: Birchfield hasn’t made it to the top of the season standings by breaking too many limbs, so no one is dismissing his decision to step out on one and roll into Friday night with the Wise Central Warriors as they face Abingdon in a Mountain 7 District matchup. Our panel: Abingdon, 4-1.
DIVIDED WE STAND
Four games have our crew truly split. Here is how those picks break down.
🏈 Hampton 3, Sullivan North 2 — Cook, Fritz and Birchfield are picking Hampton; Avento and Mays are going with the Golden Raiders.
🏈 Lee High 3, Perry Central, Ky. 2 — Cook, Birchfield and Mays are picking Lee; Avento and Fritz are going with Perry Central.
🏈 Wofford 3, ETSU 2 — Cook, Fritz and Mays believe Wofford will add to ETSU’s woes. Avento and Birchfield (who have probably seen the Bucs more than anyone else) think this is the week they’ll turn the corner.
🏈 Titans 3, Bills 2 — Avento, Mays and Fritz have decided to #TitanUp and cast their pro pick for Tennessee. Cook (who has been doing better on the pro picks in 2019) and Birchfield are betting on Buffalo.
Check out this week’s football picks every week in the Thursday papers ~ both Kingsport Times News and Johnson City Press ~ and share your thoughts about them in social media where you can find us @tnsportslive. Be sure to give us a follow for all the latest sports coverage throughout the year, and join us every Sports Live Friday Night for scoring updates, game coverage, photo galleries and more.