The Grundy County Yellow Jackets donned shoulder pads this week to get acclimated to working with helmets and shoulder pads before the full gear goes on this coming Monday. After the full pads are worn, there will be three weeks until the annual SVC Jamboree, which will be played at Grundy County High School on Crisp Field, and five weeks until the season opener at home against the South Pittsburg Pirates.
The jamboree will take place on Friday, August 16. The Jackets are scheduled to play Sequatchie County in the fourth quarter and South Pittsburg in the eighth quarter. The season kicks off for real for the state on August 23. However, the Jackets open date falls on the first week of the season, and for the next 10 weeks after the open date the Jackets will hit the gridiron every Friday night. The season opener against the Pirates will be played at home on Friday, August 30.
With high school football just around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to look back on 2018 for each of the Yellow Jackets’ 2019 opponents. Even though, I don’t have any information on returning starters or any prognosis on their upcoming season, I do want to share with you their records and if they went into the playoffs.
The Jackets will have three new opponents for 2019, although two of those have been rivals of the Jackets for many years. The South Pittsburg Pirates and the Whitwell Tigers return to the schedule after a few years being dropped by the Jackets. Class 5A Franklin County is our neighbor to the southwest that Grundy County hasn’t played in football in probably 60 years or better.
The schedule is made up of five Region 4 – 3A opponents which include the Cannon County Lions, Sequatchie County Indians, Smith County Owls, Upperman Bees, and the York Institute Dragons. Upperman, Sequatchie County, York, and Smith County were 1 – 4 in the region last year and made the playoffs. Sequatchie County and York made the second round, while Upperman lost in the semi – finals to eventual 3A champion Alcoa.
The non – region opponents are the Bledsoe County Warriors, DeKalb County Tigers, Franklin County Rebels, South Pittsburg Pirates, and the Whitwell Tigers. Four of the five non-region opponents made the playoffs. Franklin County missed out on a winning season and a possible playoff berth on a blocked extra point in a last second loss to Lincoln County. Bledsoe County and DeKalb County lost in the first round of the playoffs. South Pittsburg lost in double overtime to Whitwell in the quarter – finals and Whitwell went on to go 15 – 0 and captured the 1A championship.
Here is a summary of the 2018 season records, playoff runs, and results against the Jackets for those that played the Yellow Jackets last season:
South Pittsburg will play the Jackets at GCHS on Friday, August 30. The Pirates are always a tough draw for anyone they play. They have always had tremendous team speed and made a deep run in the playoffs. Last season the Pirates went 11 – 2 overall and 3 – 1 in Region 3 – 1A. Both of their losses were at the hands of the state champion Whitwell Tigers. The Pirates and Jackets have played many times over the history of their programs. Although, the Pirates have a lopsided lead in the series, there have been some very exciting games in the series.
York Agricultural Institute comes to GCHS on Friday, September 6. The Dragons usually have a big powerful team that likes to run the football. They went 9 – 3 and 3 – 2 in Region 4 – 3A in 2018. There losses were to Sequatchie County and two losses to Upperman. The second loss to Upperman came in the second round of the playoffs in a 44 – 14 loss to the Bees. The Dragons defeated Signal Mountain 35 – 21 in the first round of the playoffs. The Dragons defeated the Jackets 49 – 14 in Jamestown last season.
The third straight home game to open the season will be against the Bledsoe County Warriors on Friday, September 13. The Warriors were 3 – 8 last season and 2 – 2 in Region 3 – 2A. The Warriors lost to Watertown in the first round of the playoffs 57 – 15. The Warriors and the Jackets have also had a long running history. The Warriors won last year’s game against the Jackets 17 – 0 in Pikeville.
The Jackets take to the road for the first time in 2019 with a trip to Smithville to battle Region 3 – 4A DeKalb County on September 20. The Tigers were fourth in their region last year with an overall record of 3 – 8 and 1 – 3 in region play. They lost in the first round of the playoffs to Maplewood out of Nashville 56 – 7. The Tigers defeated the Jackets at GCHS last year, 28 – 6.
On September 27, the Jackets will travel to Winchester to take on the Franklin County Rebels. The Rebels were 5 – 5 last year and failed to make the playoffs in Region 5 – 5A. The Rebels and Jackets are playing in football for the first time in many years.
October 4 will be “Homecoming 2019” for the Jackets when they entertain Region 4 – 3A opponent, the Cannon County Lions. The Lions were 4 – 6 last year overall and 1 – 4 in region play. Their lone region victory was a 33 – 0 shutout of the Jackets in Woodbury. They failed to make the playoffs.
The Jackets travel to Whitwell on Friday, October 11, to battle the defending Class 1A state champions. The Tigers went 15 – 0 in securing the first state title for the school. The Jackets and Tigers have also had a lengthy history. They haven’t met on the gridiron in the past few years.
On Friday, October 18, the Jackets face another tough challenge in the Upperman Bees in Baxter. The Bees were semi – finalist last year with a 13 – 1 record. They lost to Alcoa 27 – 14 in the semis. The Bees defeated the Jackets 49 – 20 last year at GCHS. The Jackets were the only team to score 20 points during the regular season against Upperman.
“Senior Night” will be on October 25, when the Sequatchie County Indians come to GCHS. The Indians went 8 – 4 and 4 – 1 last year. Another long time rival, the Indians made it to the second round of the playoffs where they lost to Red Bank 24 – 21. They defeated Brainerd 34 – 14 in the first round. The Indians defeated the Jackets 48 -24 in Dunlap last year.
The Jackets close out their regular season on Friday, November 1, in Carthage against the Smith County Owls. The Owls were 4 – 7 and 2 – 3 in Region 4 – 3A. The Owls lost to Red Bank 49 – 13 in the first round of the playoffs. The Owls defeated the Jackets at GCHS last year, 35 – 14.
As you see, the Jackets have a potentially tough schedule. Most of these teams will be in the mix for playoff contention. The Jackets will have to work hard to defeat these formidable opponents. Hopefully, the experience they bring back will go a long way and giving the Jackets a chance to put a successful record together. If they can have success with this schedule and make the playoffs, the post season outlook will be a good one.