By this point in the season, teams have established themselves and there’s often less dissension among the ranks. That’s especially true this week where only one game in the high school lineup is anything short of a unanimous decision.
Seven local teams remain unbeaten: Dobyns-Bennett, Cherokee, David Crockett, Elizabethton, Ridgeview, Union and Thomas Walker. Which one falls from the ranks? We know one will (Cherokee and Elizabethton are playing each other), but will there be more?
Before we delve into the picks, let’s look at the records for our panel members (none of whom have perfect marks).
WHERE THEY STAND
Our team fared well last week with Jeff Birchfield and Tanner Cook posting impressive 17-2 marks and everyone else just a game or two behind. No one finished worse than 15-4, so the standings shifted just a wee bit.
Douglas Fritz finished 16-3 on the week to move to 62-21 overall on the season and stay atop the Times News picking perch, which he now shares with Birchfield who used last week’s strong showing to reclaim a share of the lead in the Kingsport standings. They’re followed by Cook (60-23), Avento (59-24) and Mays (55-28).
In Johnson City, where Birchfield, Fritz and Cook all went 14-1 a week ago, Birchfield sits alone atop the standings. His 48-18 mark gives him a two-game lead over Fritz (46-20) with Cook and Jamie Combs (45-21) and Avento (42-24) rounding out the standings.
In Kingsport, the crew agrees on most every game this week:
🏈 HIGH SCHOOL: All five panelists are picking Dobyns-Bennett over Boone, Catholic over Science Hill, David Crockett over Sullivan Central, Elizabethton over Cherokee, Unicoi County over Sullivan East, Sullivan North over Pigeon Forge, Union over Gate City, Eastside over Lebanon, Castlewood over Rye Cove, Twin Springs over Hancock County and Ridgeview over Lee High. For those keeping score, that means they expect D-B, Crockett, Elizabethton, Union and Ridgeview to stay perfect. All five picked the Cyclones to beat the Chiefs in the big battle of unbeaten teams.
🏈 COLLEGE: All five pickers on the Kingsport panel predict: Furman beats ETSU, Notre Dame beats Virginia and Carson Newman beats UVa-Wise.
LONE WOLF PICKS
There are two lone wolf picks this week and they both belong to sports director Joe Avento.
🏈 DANCING WITH THE DEVIL: In the college ranks, Avento is picking Duke to beat Virginia Tech; the other four panelists are sticking with the Hokies.
🏈 REMEMBER THE TITANS: In the pro ranks, Avento thinks the Titans get back on track and beat the Falcons. Everyone else disagrees.
THE GREAT DIVIDE
That leaves just one game dividing our team and it involves 3-0 Thomas Walker. Here is how that pick breaks down.
🏈 Thomas Walker 3, Pineville, Ky. 2 — Cook, Fritz, and Mays are taking Thomas Walker in this interstate matchup; Avento and Birchfield are picking Pineville.
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.