The Rebels have won a total of seven State Titles. The good news for Maryville opponents is the Rebels only have four starters returning on both sides of the ball. The bad news is there is plenty of talent returning and until somebody knocks them off, Maryville will again contend for an unprecedented fourth state crown.
George Quarles faces quite a challenge as he readies for his fifth season as the Rebels head coach. Maryville has lost only one game in the last two years 14-1 in 2001 and an unblemished 15-0 in 2002 but Quarles and his staff must replace the offensive line on offense and all their linebackers on defense if they are to match past successes. The Rebels will have a huge bullseye on their jerseys. Every team wants to take their best shot in an attempt to unseat the dynasty!
Maryville's offense rolled to a school record 606 points last season. An incredible average of 40.4 points per ballgame. The Rebels powered to 5887 total yards to average over 392 yards per contest.
Junior quarterback Cade Thompson (6'3" 175) started every game a year ago but senior Alex Rouse (6'2" 185) returns after missing all of last year with a torn ACL injury. Both are great athletes, Rouse led his region in home runs and Thompson is also an outstanding baseball player. Thompson earned All Region honors a year ago. Both kids will start somewhere Thompson at wide receiver, Rouse at running back if they don't win the nod at QB. What a coaching problem to have!
Senior Chris McCord (5'10" 215) returns at running back after earning All Region honors at the position in 2002. Junior Antonio Byner (5'8" 175) is explosive. Fellow junior Adam Parnell (5'9" 180) will get plenty of carries at halfback for the Rebels.
When Maryville goes airborne, Rouse and Thompson will look for all everything wide receiver Tyler Gaskin (6'4" 185) in key situations. Gaskin was All Region and the Offensive MVP in the State Title game. Oh by the way, Gaskin was also named the MVP of last year's region basketball tournament. Senior Chase Sanders (5'10" 160) and juniors Andrew Clement (5'10" 170) and Kirk Harris (5'10" 165) will also look for the football in passing situations from their wide receiver spots.
Four of five offensive linemen must be replaced. The lone returning starter is senior guard Chris Large (5'11" 240). The other guard should be junior Jimmy Wallace (6'0" 160). Anchoring the line at center will be junior Cory Everett (5'11" 210) while the tackles should be juniors Matt Gardner (6'0" 220) and Bobby Browning (5'11" 250). Key depth will be supplied by juniors Rhett Brooks (6'3" 220), Aaron May (6'2" 240) and sophomore Gary Tucker (6'2" 230).
When Maryville does get bogged down in enemy territory, they will turn to returning kicker Kris Yarlett (5'11" 170). This senior possesses a powerful leg and also handles the punting duties for the Rebels.
The story is much the same on defense where Maryville gave up just less than 10 points per ballgame a year ago. Along the way the Rebels "D" set a state record with 43 takeaways.
Three starters at linebacker graduated but there is a bevy of candidates looking to get their name etched into the starting lineup this year. Senior Zach Thomason (5'10" 185) should get the nod at middle linebacker but Everett will push for playing time. Fellow senior Larry Hannan (5'10" 160) is a tough hard nosed if undersized outside backer. Parnell should win the other OLB spot. Senior Denarius Arrington (6'1" 185) and sophomore Matt Valentine (6'0" 190) will certainly leave a lasting impression on hapless running backs this season.
Maryville's defensive line is headlined by two very good ends. Senior Andrew Hodge (6'3" 200) is a three year starter while junior Jeffrey Smith (6'1" 215) will line up opposite Hodge. Brooks will spell the starters at end. Tackle is a questionmark but senior Ryan Headrick (5'7" 250) and junior May should be the starters. Seniors B.J. Telfer (6'2" 275) and Chris Winkle (5'7" 160) are good enough to start. Winkle is smallish but makes up for it with strength which he utilizes as an excellent wrestler.
The Rebels secondary features one of the top thiefs in the area. Gaskins recorded 7 interceptions last season from his spot at free safety. Junior Dave Garner (6'1" 190) really came on at the end of last season at strong safety. The corners should be senior Adam Humphrey (6'0" 185) and Clement or junior Matt Cox (5'11" 175) with senior Logan Flowers (5'11" 175) in the mix for playing time.
The Maryville Rebels have it all! They have an unmatched winning tradition and a feeder system that restocks the talent on an annual basis. Winning comes by hard work. "We have 80 to 100 kids workout four times a week before 7:30 a.m. all summer long," said assistant coach Mike White. "Our kids realize that there is a price to pay to play for the Maryville Rebels and uphold the tradition we have here."
With that kind of participation and commitment not just to win but just to get an opportunity to play is the biggest reason why Maryville is three time defending State Champions. When the Rebels march to the field with helmets on and chin straps buckled, they are urged on by a throng of adoring young fans that one day hope to wear the red and black uniform. One can only wonder what opposing teams must think as the Maryville players go through the "Iron Cross" warm up routine before a game. Uh-oh…here we go again is a start. Maryville will be loaded for another state title run in 2003!
TNPrepSports.com Prediction- 9-1
Playoff Contender- Obviously!
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