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Alcoa/Heritage to renew county rivalry in 2013

The Tornadoes storm Goddard Field for a game this season. Photos by Brandon Shinn

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Heritage and Alcoa are playing football again.

Mountaineer sopomore Orlando Bledsoe takes the handoff from Jake Olvey this past season.

The Tornadoes and Mountaineers will clash on Week 5 next season at Heritage’s Jack Renfro Stadium.

It’ll be the first meeting between the two since the series was cancelled after the 2004 meeting.

Restarting the series was a good fit for both schools, Heritage athletics director Robbie Bennett and Alcoa counterpart Josh Stephens said.

The Mountaineers are rebuilding under first-year head coach Tim Hammontree. When they talked about the schedule in coming years prior to the seaons, Hammontree wanted to resume the Alcoa series, Bennett said.

When expiring contracts left both schools with dates to fill for the 2013 season, all parties agreed now is the right time.

“When coach Hammontree came aboard, we talked about who we wanted to play,” Bennett said. “We thought getting the county thing going again was a good thing.”

Heritage junior R.T. Byrd projects as the starter at quarterback next season.

Alcoa and Heritage compete in different classifications for football, the Tornadoes Class 3A, the Mountaineers, Maryville’s Rebels and William Blount’s Governors Class 6A.

Losses to teams in lower classifications can be costly to schools when it comes to wild card playoff selections. The Tornadoes launched a state-record run of a seven consecutive state championships the year Heritage and William Blount both suspended the Alcoa series.

Hammontree saw things differently.

“Both schools needed a Game 5,” he said, “and, the fact they’re in the county, we need to play each other.”

Not a bad move when it comes to the gate, either.

“Alcoa, Maryville and William Blount at home,” Hammontree said.

Sophomore Jaquez Tyson enjoyed a breakout season for the Tornadoes in 2012.

Alcoa coach Gary Rankin echoes Hammontree’s sentiments.

“We’ve been trying to play Heritage and William Blount since I got here,” Rankin said. “It’s a county rivalry, and it keeps the money in the county.”

Restarting the series speaks more of where Hammontree wants to take the Mountaineers rather than this season’s 0-10 finish, Stephens said.

The Tornadoes finished 11-2 this season with losses to eventual 3A champion Christian Academy of Knoxville and 6A runner up Maryville.

“I think it does a lot for Heritage and the direction they’re trying to take the program,” Stephens said. “Coach Hammontree is doing a great job with those kids and he wants them to know they can play with anybody.

“They’re in it for the long haul. They’re building to be the best. (Hammontree) is a smart guy. He knows what it takes. He knows what message he’s sending to those kids by doing this.”














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