Things are getting interesting for both our local football teams and our panel of pigskin prognosticators. Three Northeast Tennessee teams —Dobyns-Bennett in 6A and Elizabethton and Greeneville in 4A — are trying to punch their tickets into the TSSAA semifinals. Unfortunately, for the Cyclones and Green Devils, only one of them can get there as they face off in this week’s quarterfinal round. In Southwest Virginia, the regional semifinals are here and Ridgeview and Wise Central find themselves in the same boat, having to face off now to advance.
Our panel agrees on only two things on this week’s shrinking high school slate, but is nearly unanimous in its college and pro picks. Before we break that down, let’s take a look at where everyone stands.
WHERE THEY STAND
Leader and prep guru Douglas Fritz (173-56) went 12-2 last week to gain a one-game advantage over Joe Avento (11-3, 172-57) in the Kingsport standings. Tanner Cook (12-2, 168-61) is in third place, followed by Jeff Birchfield (12-2, 164-65) and Kevin Mays (11-3, 163-66).
In Johnson City, Jamie Combs (6-1, 124-50) tags in to pick the all Tennessee slate of high school games in Mays’ place and has secured a one-game lead over Fritz (5-2, 123-51). Birchfield (6-1, 121-53) and Avento (4-3, 121-53) are tied in third with Cook (5-2, 119-55) bringing up the rear.
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 agree on a little more than half the games this week.
🏈 SWV REGIONAL SEMIFINALS: All five panelists are picking Ridgeview over Wise Central and Patrick Henry over Holston.
🏈 COLLEGE AND PRO: All six pickers — from the KTN and JCP panels — also believe: Vanderbilt beats ETSU, Virginia Tech beats Pitt and the Tennessee Titans defeat Jacksonville. Our KTN crew also agrees Virginia will beat Liberty.
LONE WOLF PICKS
Four lone wolf picks bear mention.
🏈 DEVILS’ ADVOCATE: In 4A action, Avento is bucking the norm and picking perennial powerhouse Greeneville to get the better of Elizabethton this time around. Our panels: Cyclones, 5-1.
🏈 A G-MAN: Birchfield is rolling the dice and picking Graham to beat Union. Our panel: Bears, 4-1.
🏈 WARRIORS, TOO?: Birchfield is also rolling the dice and picking Chilhowie to defeat J.I. Burton. Our panel: Raiders, 4-1.
🏈 NOT SO FAST, BIG ORANGE FANS: Mays is picking Missouri to beat Tennessee. Our panels: Vols, 5-1.
THE 4-2 SPLIT
🏈 WILL THE TRIBE ROLL ON: That’s the game that most divides our panel this week. Four pickers say no, predicting a Maryville victory. Two, however, believe the Tribe will survive into the TSSAA Class 6A semifinals. Cook and Mays are picking the Indians for the win. Our panel: Rebels, 4-2.
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.