There’s not much dissension in the ranks this week. However, for those who chose to venture out of line, their against-the-grain picks come in some big games.
More on that later. First, let’s look at the records for our panel members.
WHERE THEY STAND
Tanner Cook and Douglas Fritz posted 16-4 marks a week ago to close in on Times News panel leader Jeff Birchfield. At 92-78 on the season, Birchfield now shares the lead with Fritz. Sports director Joe Avento (15-5, 91-29) sits just a game back of the leaders, while Tanner Cook (16-4, 90-30) and Kevin Mays (15-5, 84-36) are working to close the gap.
In Johnson City, where Jamie Combs tags in to pick the all Tennessee slate of high school games in Mays’ place, Birchfield went 13-3 last week to build a three-game lead over Fritz (12-4, 68-26), Combs (12-4, 67-27), Cook (12-4, 66-28) and Avento (12-4, 65-29).
In Kingsport, where our crew tackles a slate of high school games in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia along with a few college games and the NFL Titans, our guys are marching pretty much in lockstep this week:
🏈 HIGH SCHOOL: All five panelists are picking Dobyns-Bennett over Farragut, Science Hill over Morristown West, David Crockett over Cherokee, Daniel Boone over Volunteer, Greeneville over Sullivan South, Thomas Walker over Hancock County, Sullivan Central over Sullivan East, Gate City over Marion, Castlewood over Twin Springs, Eastside over Rye Cove and J.I. Burton over Honaker.
🏈 COLLEGE: All five pickers on the Kingsport panel also predict: Virginia Tech beats Rhode Island, Virginia beats Miami and Newberry beats UVa-Wise.
LONE WOLF PICKS
Only five picks divide our Kingsport picking panel this week and all five are lone wolf picks — and a few of them are big ones.
🏈 CAN THE BEARS TACKLE THE WOLFPACK: One of the most highly-anticipated Southwest Virginia games of the year happens this week as Ridgeview (5-0) travels to Big Stone Gap to face Union (5-1) in a big Mountain 7 District clash. The majority of our panelists are hanging their hats on Trenton Adkins and the Pack; Mays is picking the Bears to win at Bullitt Park. Our panel: Ridgeview, 4-1.
🏈 WILL LEE PREVAIL: Mays is once again stepping out of line and saying, yes, Lee will go on the road and beat Cumberland Gap. Our panel: Cumberland Gap, 4-1.
🏈 BATTLE AT WISE: The Warriors (3-2) host Battle (1-4) in another Mountain 7 District game. Birchfield is going out on the limb and predicting the underdog Trojans get the road win. Our panel: Central-Wise, 4, John Battle 1.
🏈 VOL FOR LIFE: The way this season has gone, one might assume only a Vol for Life or eternal optimist would pick Tennessee to beat Mississippi State. Either way, Fritz is rolling with the Big Orange. Our panel: Mississippi State, 4-1.
🏈 TITAN UP: In the final lone wolf pick of the week, Birchfield is sticking with unpredictable Tennessee when they face the Broncos in Denver. Our panel: Denver, 4-1.
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.