Oneida and Scott High will take to the road Friday night for their first road games of the 2014 football season. Here is a look at tonight's games of interest:
• Oneida (0-1) at Hampton (1-0): Last season, Hampton made the long drive to Dr. M.E. Thompson Field and Oneida jumped on the Bulldogs early, riding that wave of momentum to a 31-14 win. This year, it's Oneida's turn to make the long road trip, and the Indians will face a Hampton team that returns nearly everyone from last season. All of Hampton's skill players from 2013 are back after starting as freshmen or sophomores a year ago, and the Bulldogs' line is, in a word, BIG. Hampton is a versatile team that can play power football or spread the field. Oneida's defense looked stout against Rockwood last week but will be tested this week against the Bulldogs.
Fun Fact: Oneida has faced Hampton nine times dating back to 1982 and owns a 6-3 lead in the series.
• Scott (1-0) at Cumberland County (0-1): Scott High is making its first-ever visit to Cumberland County High School, after defeating the Jets last season, 48-21, in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Highlanders are riding high after last week's 63-0 win over McCreary Central, while Cumberland County is stumbling after a lopsided loss to Bledsoe County. Scott simply has too many weapons on the offensive side of the football, and it will be difficult for Cumberland County to keep up.
Fun Fact: Scott has not lost a non-district game since Oct. 19, 2012.
The rest of the games . . .
• Coalfield (1-0) at Catholic (1-0): A banged-up Coalfield team travels to West Knoxville to face Catholic in a game that has mismatch written all over it. Last year, Catholic won 47-7 . . . and Coalfield was healthy. 4A vs. 1A is a tough task for anyone. But when you aren't playing at full strength, it's even tougher. Prediction: Catholic...big.
• Alcoa (2-0) at Maryville (1-0): Alcoa may be the first team in the modern era of high school football to play three varsity games in nine days. The first two were warmups. Tonight it gets real for Gary Rankin and his squad, as they travel cross-town to face their arch rival in a game that will be televised regionally by MyVLT2. Traditionally, Maryville owns this series, and hasn't lost to the Tornadoes since Rankin's club won back-to-back meetings with the Rebels in 2009 and 2010. Last year, Alcoa managed only a safety in a 31-2 loss. Prediction: Maryville.
• Pickett County (1-0) at Oakdale (1-0): Seeing these two meet as undefeateds, even this early in the season, is encouraging . . . and the second time it's happened in as many years. Last season, Pickett County started the year with a win over Clinton County (Ky.), then didn't win again the rest of the way, losing to Oakdale 32-6 the next time out. This year, Pickett County started the season with a 20-6 win over Clinton County, while Oakdale beat up on Sale Creek, 48-10. Pickett County hasn't won this annual meeting since 2009, and probably isn't going to get over the hump this year against a rapidly improving Oakdale team. Prediction: Oakdale.
• Harriman (1-0) at Sunbright (0-1): It's hard to get a handle on what to expect from a Sunbright team that lost a lot of talent to graduation after the 2013 season but that also returns quality players in important positions. Last week, the Tigers lost a surprisingly lopsided game (41-14) against King's Academy, a private school in Sevier County. Harriman, meanwhile, got started with a 41-14 win over Hancock County. Sunbright won this matchup by three touchdowns a year ago, but the result might be different this time around. Prediction: Harriman.
• Wartburg (0-0) at Rockwood (1-0): This one is interesting to Oneida simply because the Indians faced Rockwood last week — losing 14-13 — and will face Wartburg next week. If Wartburg keeps it close, it's cause for concern for the Indians, which dominated the Tigers for much of last week's game before seeing Rockwood mount a sterling comeback in the final four minutes of the game. Of course, Oneida knows it has cause for concern next week regardless of the outcome of this one; Tony Lambert isn't about to let his team forget 2012's near defeat at the Dawg Pound. Prediction: Rockwood.
• Kingston (0-0) at Grace Christian (1-0): Tonight we get our first look of the season at Kingston, which Scott will face next week in the District 4-AA opener. But it might not necessarily be a telling look. Grace Christian is loaded, as usual, while Kingston is still struggling to rebound. The Rams won this one last year by a 34-6 score and there's no reason to think this year's outcome will be different. Prediction: Grace Christian...big.
• Greenback (1-0) at Gatlinburg-Pittman (1-0): Greenback has never beaten Gatlinburg, even when the Cherokees have been at their best. Greenback, which will host Oneida next month, is once again a deeply talented football team, but so is Gatlinburg. The Highlanders struggled to defeat Cocke County last week, needing to come from behind to win, 49-42, while Greenback defeated Sweetwater, 49-47. Prediction: Gatlinburg.
• CAK (1-0) at Powell (0-1): For a program with a tradition as proud as Powell's, last week's 83-3 loss to Fulton was deeply embarrassing. Of course, there isn't too much shame in losing to Fulton; that Falcons team is good enough to beat a few small colleges right now. But Powell is hurting. Four coaches in four years has had an impact on the program, and offseason attrition of players was significant. It's going to take some work for this Panther program to rebound, and CAK — which outlasted Franklin Road Academy, 49-42, to start the season — is probably not where it will start. Powell did win last year's inaugural meeting between the two schools in a squeaker (42-41), but this year's game is likely going to turn out differently. Prediction: CAK.
• Oliver Springs (1-0) at York Institute (0-1): York won this one fairly easily last year, defeating Oliver Springs by a score of 30-12. But the Bobcats come in with plenty of returning experience and some momentum with a 27-12 win over Unaka to start the season. York was spanked by a traditionally weak White County team, 32-6, to open the season. With that said, this is still a 2A vs. a 3A matchup, and it could very easily tip York's way again. Prediction: Oliver Springs.