Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

August 30, 2012

Oh Good Greif: Time is right for middle school sports

By Ed Greif
Sports editor

CROSSVILLE — After watching the elementary jamboree at CCHS on Aug. 11 and seeing some of the games, now is the right time for a change from eight teams to a middle school format with two teams.

Why?

First of all, the local officials have already told the elementary principals they will not be refereeing games next school year. Tracy Graham, one of the local officials, said the cost for using TSSAA officials is $65 per official or $195 per each three person crew. The total for four games each week is $780. The total over a seven-week schedule is $5,480 plus $240, if a four-person crew is used for the elementary championship game. That's over $5,700. Who wants to pay that?

The local crews are charging less than the TSSAA would charge.

With four elementary games starting at 4:30 p.m., there needs to be four three-person crews. When Martin's home games start at 6:30 or so, three of the guys do double duty.

Secondly, there is a problem getting buses because of the lack of substitute drivers.  During the first week, a couple of the games didn't start until 4:45 to 5 p.m. because schools couldn't get buses until after the routes were run.

Thirdly, the numbers tell the story also. There are 189 total players, 80 for Brown, Martin, Pleasant Hill and South, while there are 109 total for Crab Orchard, Homestead, North and Stone.

Stone has the largest number (30), while Martin and South have 17 each. Those numbers were from the rosters submitted at the elementary jamboree. Several of the schools had fifth- and sixth-graders listed on their rosters.

Finally, with four school board members elected Aug. 2 and the retirement of Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle at the end of the school year, this could change things a bit.

You could divide the current supplements for the elementary coaches equally to help fund the two teams.  Based on 2005-'06 figures, the supplement for a elementary head football coach is $2,000, or $16,000 for the eight head coaches, and $1,300 for a football assistant, or $10,400 for the eight total (one each per school). That is $26,400 which could be split between two middle school teams.

Let the high school coaches select elementary coordinators. Consolidate the equipment from the zoned schools for the two teams. Shoulder pads and helmits could be reconditioned for use by the teams.

Home games could be played at CCHS and SMHS.

The board and director of schools are going to have to eliminate kids attending school out of zone and have a countywide athletic director coordinate the entire elementary program.

I have been harping on this for a long time, and now is time for the changes.

There are already changes been made for elementary volleyball and softball. Volleyball has been moved to spring. The schools zoned for SMHS are playing softball this fall, while the schools zone for CCHS are playing intramural softball. This reverses in the spring.

There are already two countywide baseball teams which play a schedule in the spring.

••••

Before I talk about the college football season, I want to say something about the Chronicle's Fall Sports Preview which came last Friday. It was originally scheduled to come out Aug. 17 before the Jets' and Panthers' season openers, but was pushed back a week because of some minor issues. After it came out, a couple of glitches were discovered and corrected.

I had a hard decision on the layout, because of the two high schools, elementary football teams and Mountaineers. I stand by the decision I made in the design and layout. I hope to have a different look to it in 2013. If anyone has any questions about the section, just let me know.

••••

Now, it is safe to say, "It is football time in Tennessee."

There were a couple of games Thursday night to wet the taste buds as Tennessee Tech hosted Hampton. Coach Watson Brown's Golden Eagles will have former Vol wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers, who left Tennessee and enrolled in classes Monday. He is a plus for the Golden Eagles' offense, which lost talented wide receiver Tim Benford to graduation in the spring.

Coach James Franklin's Vanderbilt Commodores host the Old Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, and the Florida Gators as the press was rolling Thursday evening. This is a biggie in the SEC East. A 'Dore victory would have Music City rocking and rolling.

Rounding out the SEC schedule for the Labor Day holiday are Tennessee vs. North Carolina State in Atlanta; Alabama at Michigan in Arlington, TX; Buffalo at Georgia; Jacksonsville State at Arkansas; Bowling Green at Florida; Central Arkansas at Ole Miss; Jackson State at Mississippi State, SE Louisiana at Missouri; Auburn vs. Clemson in Atlanta; North Texas at LSU: and Kentucky at Louisville.

The Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech game is a victim of Hurricane Isaac and is reset for Oct. 13. Other games could be hurt because of the hurricane.

Tennessee goes into the game without Da'Rick Rogers, while Arkansas and Mississippi enter the season with new coaches. These are the first adventures into SEC territory for both Texas A&M and Missouri.

My colleagues, Jim Butler and Frank Gale, should have some interesting things to write about this season.

The Chattanooga Mocs are in Tampa for a game with USF, unless Hurricane Isaac creates a lot of havoc in the Sunshine State. Coach Russ Huesman's squad goes into the season without B.J. Coleman who is a Green Bay Packer. Chattanooga's home opener is Sept. 13 against Glenville State.

••••

On the high school scene, both the Jets and Panthers are off to 0-2 starts, with district play beginning this weekend for both schools. CCHS played at Warren County Thursday night at press time, while SMHS plays at CAK tonight. The Warriors are averaging 59.0 points per game after their two non-league wins.

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(Ed Greif is the Chronicle sports editor and his column appears regularly. He can be reached at sports@crossville-chronicle.com.)