When Justin Price was named the head coach at Campbell County in June of 2011, he was rushed to get the Cougar program off the ground as he replaced Jerry Mynatt, who had resigned that May after taking the job only four months earlier.
Price and his twin brother Matt, who serves as the defensive coordinator had a plan to turn the program around but it wouldn’t be easy or take place overnight.
The Cougar football program started in 1975 after Campbell County high school were built through the consolidation of LaFollette and Jacksboro high schools that same year.
In the 36 years of the program before the Prices arrived 11 different coaches tried to get the program to the next level and make the playoffs. Only current Morristown East coach DeWayne Wells was able to achieve that as he took the Cougars to three playoff appearances in 2004, 2007 and 2008.
The 2004 season produced the only winning season since 1975 as the Cougars went 7-4 while 2007 and 2008 produced 5-6 records as the program had 35 losing seasons and a 79-284 overall record which included five 0-10 seasons.
Since his hiring, Price has a 34-25 overall record and the Cougars have made three consecutive Class 5A playoff appearances (2013, 2014 and 2015) after two straight seasons of 3-7 records in 2011 and 2012.
The Price Brothers have also made school history in back to back years in 2014 and 2015 by winning a first round playoff game which had never happened before their arrival in Jacksboro.
“We believed that we needed to have a specific plan for this program. We wanted our players to reach their potential, maximize their ability, and know that our community believed in them,” Justin Price said.
So the first thing, the Prices did was roll their sleeves up and went to work in 2011. They got a ton done in the Jacksboro community that first year by getting the fan base excited about football for possibly the first time ever.
Despite going 3-7 in 2013 which was two games better then a 1-9 year in 2012, the football program got the following improvements done for the program.
*Purchased new helmets and uniforms
*Upgraded the weight room, press box and the playing field
“We tried to get everything we could get done that first year to show that we wanted to move the program in a new direction and we wanted to get everyone on board in the community,” Price said.
Another 3-7 season followed in 2012 but despite the losing record, everyone in the Cougar program felt they were improving and getting close to breaking out.
“There were times when Matt and I thought can we really get the program to the next level,” Price said. “We believed in what we were doing but you still have some doubts and I know there were other people that didn’t believed in us but we stayed the course and believed.”
The Price Brothers’ belief in getting the program off on the right foot paid off big in 2013.
In 2013, the Cougars started the season by winning their first three games but didn’t get that signature win until beating Oak Ridge 27-14 in early October after losing the last 27 times to the Wildcats.
“That win was the win that put all the success we have had so far in motion because the kids saw all the hard work pay off and they were finally invested in the program,” Price said.
“Our players have bought in to the program and more importantly to each other. They have high expectations and standards for themselves each year. So it’s hard to single out just a few things, but all the credit goes to our players and their efforts.”
The 2013 season was the coming out party for the Cougar program as they set several firsts that year as they:
*Won double digit games in a season for the first time (10-2)
*Hosted the schools first home Playoff game
*Won their first Playoff game by defeating Gibbs 41-7.
*Ranked in the Class 5A AP top 10 for the first time ever
Campbell County returned to the playoffs a year later, winning nine games and another first round win over Morristown West 26-25 and they also made the playoffs again last season.
Which brings us back to the great start this season as the Cougars spread offense averages 35 points a game in the undefeated start.
“It’s been a great start and its been a collective effort from everyone,” Price said. It seems like every rep that someone different is making a big play for us. Our seniors have been a part of some big wins in the last four years and they carry that experience over to their preparation each week. We are proud of all of them.”
The 21 seniors have been huge as they were freshman in 2013 and saw the success first hand.
“Fortunately, the seniors were freshmen back then and have seen the success and have really worked hard and they don’t know anything but success in the program and that is a credit to them,” Price said.
So far this season, the No. 8 ranked Cougars have gotten big performances from junior quarterback Zach Rutherford who has passed for 1,149 yards and 13 touchdowns.
His favorite targets are seniors Seth Roberts (18 catches for 355 yards and five touchdowns) and Landon Reese (16 catches for 271and yards and two touchdowns).
Campbell County’s is not the only program making history for getting off to a 4-0 start for the school’s first time as Raleigh Egypt, Cane Ridge and Summertown are also making memories.
*Raleigh Egypt- When Major Wright took the Pharaoh football program over in 2014, he knew he had to give it a big shot in the arm.
So Wright who had led White Station and Briarcrest to a total of 11 playoff appearances in 13 years as head coach, drastically changed a lot of things throughout the program.
Besides changing the Pharaoh Offense and defense, Wright cleaned out an old auto shop on campus and turned it into a weight room. He also tested the players resiliency by making the weight program tough and seeing what players would stuck it out and which ones would quit.
“The most important thing we had to learn was how to struggle. With kids like I coach, pride is so strong that it can be destructive,” Wright said. “Kids would rather quit than have their pride compromised. If their leader can face struggles with confidence and courage, and treat difficulties as an opportunity to improve, then the kids are more likely to do the same. We got tougher together through some trying circumstances. We make our off-season training demanding enough that the decision whether or not to play football is not an easy one. The investment is bigger. If they play, they do so after having proven they have toughness.”
“When players show me they can struggle yet continue to move forward, then I know we’ve got a chance. This is what has slowly happened during my three years at Raleigh-Egypt. Our players are some of the toughest I’ve ever been around.”
The year before Wright was hired in 2014, the Pharaohs were coming off a 1-9 season and had made 10 Playoff appearances since 1995.
The Pharaohs showed signs of improvement off the bat for Wright as they won four more games in 2014 and made the 4A playoffs finishing 5-6 losing to Crockett County in the first round.
Last season, Wright started a youth movement starting eight sophomores and one freshman as the Pharaohs again got into the playoffs again finishing with an identical record of 5-6. That youth movement has played dividends in the 4-0 start this season according to Wright.
“The biggest difference is that our players are getting older and more experienced. We started eight sophomores and one freshman last year on defense. They are stronger, faster, and better players than they were last year,” Wright said.
So far in their 4-0 start, the Pharaohs are averaging 35 points a contest with senior running back Dashawn Boyland averaging 151 yards a game and has scored six touchdowns on the year.
Defensively, Raleigh Egypt have been stout as well allowing only 12.5 points a game as defensive backs Caleb Gates (three interceptions) and Jerome Frazier (two INTs) have led the way so far.
*Cane Ridge- The Ravens continue to win, impress and move up the Class 5A rankings (No. 3 this week). Cane Ridge have been led by senior quarterback D.J Thorpe on offense as they average 40.8 points a game.
The schedule will get tougher the next two weeks as they travel to Beech and to Hillsboro in critical region 6-5A battles. If they continue to win, an undefeated regular season is definitely within range.
*Summertown- The Eagles continue to make school history as the young program continues to weekly make strides under second year coach Leslie Mote. A huge region 4-1A clash takes place this week as Summertown hosts region kingpin Columbia Academy.
Three more teams that haven’t been 4-0 in a while
*Bolivar (1981)- Bolivar coach Woodrow Lowe has rebuilt the Tiger program going from 3-7 in 2014 (his first year) to a 4-0 start this year after making the 3A playoffs last season.
His son Trey is a big reason for the Renaissance as he has passed for 735 yards and eight touchdowns while senior Dreke Lewis has paced the running game running for 589 yards and seven touchdowns.
Sophomore linebacker Jar Lewis has been a nightmare for opposing offenses making 44 tackles, scoring three defensive touchdowns while forcing five fumbles, recovering three of them and he also has four sacks.
*Harriman (1986)- Travis Tapp knows how it feels to start the year at 4-0 as a player and coach at Harriman. Tapp was a running back on the 1986 Harriman team that started 4-0 and has led the team to a 4-0 start as the Tigers head coach as well. Senior quarterback Joe Pace has been the real spark plug for the Tigers making plays with his arms as well as his legs.
*Bradley Central (1999)- Like Harriman, Bradley is led by one of their own as Damon Floyd (Bradley class of 1996) took over the program in 2006. The Bears had three losing seasons in a row (2006-2008) but since 2010 have made the 6A playoffs, six consecutive times under Floyd’s steady hand. This season the Bears are led by Chattanooga commitment Cole Copeland who has passed for 869 yards and eight touchdowns.
Here’s the other 31 4-0 teams and the last year they started 4-0.
Middle Tennessee Christian- 2014
3-0 For the first time in a while
Besides all three programs being 3-0 for the first time in a while what do Jellico, McEwen and Happy Valley have in common?
Not only are they three teams having their best start in quite a while, all three programs are led by alumni.
*Jellico- The Jellico program was turned over to 2008 Jellico graduate Dustin Buckner last season and the Blue Devils went 3-7, but what a difference a year makes.
The Blue Devils are averaging 44 points a game and are led by the dynamic duo of quarterback Tony Smith to wide receiver Sean Moses as it been over 50 years since the school last started 3-0.
“We have a great group of kids who are determined to fix Jellico football and I’m excited for our kids and the direction of our program,” Buckner said.
*McEwen- Don’t look now but the Warriors have the state’s second longest winning streak at five behind 5A defending state champion Independence (19).
The last 3-0 start was in 2003 and head coach Eric Pullen has had a tough rebuilding five seasons at the helm with a 11-40 record during that time with only one playoff appearance (2012).
The most wins in a season under Pullen has been three in 2011, 2012 and 2015 so this season is turning out to be a banner year at McEwen.
*Happy Valley-2001 Happy Valley graduate Jason Jarrett improved the program immediately after being hired last season as the Warriors improved from 2-8 in 2014 to 6-5 last season.
The last 3-0 season happened back in 2004 and the Warriors have been lethal on offense averaging 49.3 points a game.
As good as the offense has been, the defense has two shutouts as the Warriors have used a running clock in two of their three wins.
Nine other programs are also 3-0 this year and here’s a quick look at them as well.
What a Difference a Year Makes
Nine teams got revenge Friday night beating a rival for the first time in a while, here’s a brief look at each win.
Heritage 32, William Blount 17
Last Year’s Score- William Blount 28, Heritage 20
Winning Streak- William Blount had won the last 19 meetings
Last Win For Heritage-6-3 in 1996
Stewarts Creek 44, LaVergne 30
Last Year’s Score- LaVergne 35, Stewarts Creek 21
Winning Streak- LaVergne had won the only three meetings in the series
Last Win For Stewarts Creek- This is the first win over LaVergne for Stewarts Creek, a program that is only four years old. It was also their first win for the Red Hawks against another Rutherford County team 1-15 overall.
Beech 24, Hendersonville 23
Last Year’s Score- Hendersonville 30, Beech 16
Winning Streak- Hendersonville had won the last three meetings
Last Win for Beech- 28-21 in 2012
Austin East 20, Fulton 13
Last Year’s Score- Fulton 74, Austin East 21
Winning Streak- Fulton had dominated the last four meetings outscoring AE 236-34.
Last Win for Austin East- 12-7 in 2012
Knoxville Webb 35, CAK 33
Last Year’s Score- CAK 32, Knox. Webb 14
Winning Streak- Knoxville Webb won three of the last four meetings (2013, 2014 and 2016)
Last Win for Webb- 31-21 in 2014
South Greene 33, Chuckey-Doak 21
Last Year’s Score- Chuckey-Doak 36, South Greene 8
Winning Streak- Chuckey-Doak won the last five meetings
Last Win for South Greene- 56-27 in 2010
Pearl Cohn 41, CPA 0
Last Year’s Score- CPA 34, Pearl Cohn 26
Winning Streak- CPA won the last four meetings
Last Win for Pearl Cohn- 17-14 in 2010
Pope John Paul II 20, Father Ryan 17
Last Year’s Score- Father Ryan 30, JPII 22
Winning Streak- Father Ryan won last three meetings and eight of the last 10.
Last Win for JPII- 10-6 in 2012
Cannon County 34, Red Boiling Springs 14
Last Year’s Score- RBS 21, Cannon County 14
Winning Streak- RBS won the last two meetings
Last Win for Cannon County- 28-25 in 2013
No Longer Undefeated
The following 16 schools saw their winning streaks come to an end on Friday with defending Class 3A state champion Alcoa seeing their 14 game winning streak going up in smoke.
*Alcoa lost to Maryville 43-29
*CAK lost to Knoxville Webb 35-33
*Chuckey-Doak lost to South Greene 33-21
*Cleveland lost to Bradley Central 34-5
*Daniel Boone lost to Elizabethton 14-6
*Fayetteville lost to Cascade 30-23
*Huntingdon lost to Milan 62-18
*Knoxville West lost to Carter 14-12
*Marion County lost to South Pittsburg 24-17
*McKenzie lost to Camden 31-28
*Middle College lost to Dexter (MO) 41-0
*Northview Academy lost to Volunteer 42-21
*Notre Dame lost to Knoxville Catholic 54-9
*Ridgeway lost to Whitehaven 27-8
*Smyrna lost to Independence 21-7
*Waverly lost to Fairview 27-26
No Longer Winless
The following 11 teams saw losing streaks come to an end as they grabbed their first win of the year.
*Bledsoe County beat Whitwell 22-21
*Collierville beat Millington 60-14
*Eagleville beat Loretto 32-28
*Huntland beat Richland 53-21
*Johnson County beat Sullivan Central 46-20
*Lawrence County beat Columbia 32-14
*Midway beat Lookout Valley 63-6
*Signal Mountain beat Tyner 22-21
*Sullivan South beat Gate City (VA) 41-37
*West Greene beat North Greene 28-14
*Westmoreland beat Community 22-14
Mt. Juliet’s Trey Pruitt Commits to Austin Peay
Mt. Juliet tight end Trey Pruitt is the latest in state recruit to commit to first year Austin Peay head coach Will Healy.
Pruitt chose the Governors over offers from Cornell and Tennessee Tech and becomes the sixth in state commitment joining the Brentwood Academy duo of quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall and fullback Jack McDonald, Hendersonville offensive lineman Brandon Dove, Independence wide receiver Owen Murphy and Station Camp linebacker Hunter Scholato.
He is the second Mt. Juliet player to commit this season so far joining offensive lineman D.J. Delfendahl who committed last month to MTSU.
“Trey is a three-sport athlete with a 4.2 GPA. That says most of what one needs to know about his commitment, work ethic, competitive spirit and the network of people that support him. He is a gifted young man with great character and we are pumped for him,” Mt. Juliet head coach Trey Perry said.
Pruitt becomes the 51st player in the state to commit in the Class of 2017 joining Mt. Juliet offensive lineman D.J. Delfendahl (MTSU), Oakland offensive lineman Elijah Dobbins (MTSU), Marshall County linebacker Cain McWilliams (MTSU), Stratford defensive back T.J. Carter (Memphis), Liberty defensive back Alec Long (Memphis), Fulton linebacker Chaton Mobley (MTSU), Brentwood Academy quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall (Austin Peay), Hendersonville offensive lineman Brandon Dove (Austin Peay), Independence wide receiver Owen Murphy (Austin Peay), Station Camp linebacker Hunter Scholato (Austin Peay), Riverdale defensive back Gentry Bonds (Georgia Tech), MBA running back Ty Chandler (Tennessee), Davidson Academy offensive lineman Obinna Eze (Memphis), Oakland athlete JaCoby Stevens (LSU), St. George’s running back Chase Hayden (Arkansas), Whitehaven linebacker Aubrey Miller (Missouri), Brentwood Academy quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall (Austin Peay), St. George’s linebacker Noah Pope (Yale), Fayette Ware defensive tackle Andrew Cole (Southern Mississippi), Wilson Central Athlete Devon High (Navy), Watertown offensive lineman Rusty Staats (Air Force), Oak Ridge wide receiver Tee Higgins (Clemson), Brentwood Academy fullback Jack Armstrong (Austin Peay), Ravenwood offensive lineman Patrick Leitten (Duke), Kenwood running back Antwaun Branch (Purdue), Trezevant defensive end Tijuan Mason (Purdue), Austin East quarterback Darius Harper (Coastal Carolina), Oakland safety Kaleb Oliver (Mississippi State), Nashville Overton defensive back Theo Jackson (Tennessee), Monterey offensive lineman Spencer Norrod (Tennessee Tech), Dickson County safety Caleb Rozar (Dickson County), Hardin County tight end/defensive end LaTrell Bumphus (Tennessee), LaVergne wide receiver Princeton Fant (Tennessee), Lipscomb Academy defensive tackle Rutger Reitmaier (Oregon), Huntland linebacker D.J. Taylor (Wake Forest), Liberty defensive end Elijah Harris (Memphis), Rhea County tight end Jared Edwards (Memphis), Lavergne safety Maleik Gray (Tennessee), Smyrna quarterback John Turner (MTSU), Wilson Central defensive back Ray Coggins (Eastern Kentucky), Halls wide receiver Tyrese Johnson (MTSU), Independence safety Landon Guidry (Mississippi State), Ensworth defensive back Rodney Owens (Louisville), Trezevant running back Cordarrian Richardson (Clemson), Cordova defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna (Kentucky), Cordova defensive linemen Braylon Brown (Memphis), Memphis East running back Timothy Taylor (Memphis), Milan offensive lineman Jacob Rimmer (Duke), Knoxville Catholic wide receiver Amari Rodgers (Clemson), KIPP Academy quarterback Dewayne Betts (Kansas State) and Page kicker Brent Cimaglia (Tennessee).
Current Longest Winning Streaks
Current Longest Losing Streaks
Union County- 20
MLK Prep- 16
Booker T. Washington- 15
Lookout Valley- 14
Sullivan Central- 14
Concord Christian- 12
West Creek- 11
Caleb Johnson, RB, MAHS- Rushed for 310 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 44-12 win over Kingsbury.
Bryce Wallace, QB, Marshall County- Passed for 301 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-7 win over East Nashville.
D.J. Taylor, RB, Huntland- Rushed for 317 yards and six touchdowns in a 53-21 win over Richland.
Jordan Mason, RB, Gallatin- Ran for 262 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 50-49 win over Hendersonville.
Kylan Watkins, RB, Whitehaven- Rushed for 256 yards and scored three times in a 27-8 win over Ridgeway.
Corey Jones, WR, St. George’s- Caught nine passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-14 win over ECS.
Ben Glass, QB, St. George’s- Passed for 331 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for two more scores in a 49-14 win over ECS.
Mercedes Byrd, QB, Westwood- Passed for 368 yards and five touchdowns and a two point conversion pass in a 46-24 win over Hillcrest.
Montavious Pugh, WR, Haywood County- Caught only four passes but for 203 yards (50.8 ypc) and scored three touchdowns in a 53-40 win over Lexington.
Eli Woodard, RB, Cornersville- Ran for 195 yards and scored once in a 39-14 win over Moore County.
Staton Martin, QB, Anderson County- Passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-34 loss to Oak Ridge.
Chase Cunningham, QB, Knoxville Catholic- Passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns in a 54-9 win over Notre Dame.
Austin Collier, RB, Mt. Juliet Christian- Rushed for 230 yards and scored six touchdowns in a 60-7 win over Houston County.
Seth Carlisle, QB, Macon County- Rushed for 213 yards and scored six touchdowns in a 62-42 win over Jackson County.
Jamal Harden, RB, Shelbyville- Rushed for 339 yards and scored five times in a 54-27 win over Tullahoma.
Jake Salyer, RB, Volunteer- Rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-21 win over Northview Academy.
Ahmik Watterson, RB, Science Hill- Rushed for 259 yards and four touchdowns in a 54-34 win over Erwin (NC).
Sean Moses, WR, Jellico- Caught five passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-38 win over Oakdale.
Dontae Smith, RB, Spring Hill- Rushed for 251 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 56-46 win over Dickson County.
Dashawn Boyland, RB, Raleigh Egypt- Rushed for 249 yards and scored once in a 26-21 win over Melrose.
Tavaris Moore, RB, Rossville Christian- Rushed for 257 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 40-29 win over Zion Christian.
Adam Fulton, QB, Farragut-Passed for 315 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-27 win over Bearden.
Timothy Taylor, RB, Memphis East- Rushed for 210 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 26-14 win over Mitchell.
Noah Arnett, RB, Cloudland- Rushed for 338 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 35-34 loss to Avery (NC).
Nathan Arnold, QB, Johnson County- Passed for 308 yards and three touchdowns in a 46-20 win over Sullivan Central.
Ty Weigert, RB, Signal Mountain- Rushed for 205 yards and scored once while also adding a two point conversion in a 22-21 win over Tyner.
BY THE NUMBERS
7- Consecutive wins for Fairview over Waverly.
19- Consecutive Losses for Heritage against William Blount before winning 32-17 Friday night.
52- Number of winless teams left in the state.
53- Number of undefeated teams left in the state.
55- Number of first quarter points scored by Nashville Christian in a 69-6 win over Pickett County.
234.5/13- Rushing average and touchdowns scored by MAHS running back Caleb Johnson.
266- Total penalty yardage in the Volunteer-Pigeon Forge game.
Contact Donovan at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at Examine_Stew