This week's picks: Fritz hangs on to claim Kingsport title

Carmen Musick • Nov 28, 2019 at 12:30 PM

The high school football season continues this weekend with the state semifinals in Tennessee and the regional championships in Virginia. In our local coverage area, Elizabethton, Wise Central and J.I. Burton are all still strapping on the pads and we’ll be there following them until their seasons come to a close. But our picking panels — in both Kingsport and Johnson City — made their final picks last week.

That means, for our team of pigskin prognosticators, the battle is over. Two champions have been crowned and will retain bragging rights until they all step back into the ring next season to test their powers of prediction.

In Kingsport, the often-disputed but still smiling champion is Douglas Fritz. It stands to reason that the prep beat writer should win a panel dominated by prep picks, right? Good thing that worked out. Fritz posted a 182-58 mark over the course of 240 games to best sports director Joe Avento by two games.

Avento (180-60) finished a full four games ahead of Tanner Cook (176-64) who might have been distracted by a couple of marathons along the way. Jeff Birchfield (173-67), who held the lead a few times early in the season, faltered late with some renegade picks in an attempt to gain a lap or two on the competition. Kevin Mays, our Southwest Virginia prep guru, went 170-70 to finish in last place. Next year, he’ll lobby for more Virginia games in an attempt to level the playing field.

Over in Johnson City, where our colleague Jamie Combs (who many of you know, but don’t see out at games quite as often anymore) steps in for Mays on an all-Tennessee slate of games, things were a little closer from top to bottom.

In the end, Combs proved that you don’t have to be AT the games to know what’s what. He amassed a 130-50 record in 180 games to edge Fritz (129-51) by just one game and claim the Johnson City crown. Birchfield (127-53) finished third with Avento (126-54) in fourth and Cook (124-56) in last place.

It’s been a fun high school football season and it’s not over yet. Be sure to pick up your copy of the Times News and Johnson City Press for continuing coverage of high school football, as well as the very busy winter sports season already underway!

Congratulations to both Doug and Jamie on their 2019 picking panel championships. And, Happy Thanksgiving from our team to yours!