Pigeon Forge Tigers

Three years ago a batch of baby Tigers were born over in Sevier County, Pigeon Forge High School Tigers that is. Two varsity seasons and one playoff appearance later, those cubs have grown into a full fledged nasty band of Tigers on the football field.

The 2002 high school football season saw Pigeon Forge battle to a respectable 4-7 record and their first berth in the state playoffs. 2003 begins full of promise and long time mentor but first year Head Coach David Ryan is full of optimism for his still young band of Tigers.

"With this being our third year as a varsity football team, it is a pivotal season as far as setting the standard for this program's future," said Pigeon Forge's top Tiger. "Our seniors have made the commitment to provide the leadership this team needs to be successful!"

Pigeon Forge has taken their lumps for two years but improved dramatically. 2003 is time for a little payback and the Tigers have experienced players ready to rumble. Last season's final stats are proof positive how close Pigeon Forge is to stardom.

Offensively, the Tigers line up in a traditional I formation and averaged 19 points per game last season. Pigeon Forge can run the ball and if they discover a quality passing attack this year….look out!

"We have eight returning offensive starters including five linemen, a solid quarterback and our leading rusher," said Coach Ryan. "We should be more consistent but need to be more balanced to be effective."

The QB should be junior James Rauhuff (6'1" 185) who passed for 501 yards and five touchdowns a year ago. Senior Zach Schrandt (5'10" 180) will also take plenty of snaps. Schrandt rushed for 178 yards and 7 touchdowns. He will also line up at tailback along with junior Josh Bugh (5'10" 200). Bugh averaged a hefty 5.7 yards per carry a year ago and piled up 858 yards and 8 TDs. He will be a 1000 yard candidate this season.

When these Tigers go airborne, senior Bruce Belitz will be Rauhuff's favorite potential target. Belitz caught 12 aerials for 186 yards and will see those numbers rise in a big way in 2003.

Pigeon Forge's offensive line is pretty much set as Keith Ownby (5'10" 210) is ready to anchor the line at center. The guards should be fellow seniors Chris Phillips (5'11" 250) and Josh Hightower (5'10" 250). The Tigers will have the Twin Towers lining up at tackle. Behemoth senior Shane Canterbury (6'8" 355) and Josh Garst (6'2" 270) will be imposing figures giving Pigeon Forge a massive offensive line.

The news is also good for Tiger fans on defense as Pigeon Forge aligns in a basic 4-3. This unit should improve on the 23 points per game allowed in 2003. "We have excellent senior leadership on defense," said Coach Ryan. "Our kids have made great strides in the weightroom and I expect us to be very physical."

The Tigers have concentrated on getting quicker with better footwork in the offseason which should make them more competitive. One outstanding defender returning to wreak more havoc on the opposition is senior linebacker Paul Brergher (5'11" 210). Brergher totaled 102 total takeouts a year ago. Bugh will be his Brerther's partner in crime as he amassed 89 total hits while senior Adam Gates (5'9" 215) is a welcome transfer who will get in on the fun at LB.

The defensive line is young but does have some experience. Tackle Brandon Farragut (6'0" 320) is a senior who should be an immovable object inside. Farragut jumped in on 16 tackles in 2003. He will be joined by senior Nathan Huskey (6'3" 240) at tackle. One of the defensive ends should be senior Chris Owens (6'2" 210) who recorded 13 tackles. All should see those numbers increase in a big way this year.

There are thiefs in the secondary and all are seniors. Chris Todd (5'10" 170) is back at his cornerback spot where he recorded 40 stops and snared 4 interceptions. Belitz should be the free safety. He ripped into 49 ball carriers and also swiped 2 "oskies" last season. Schrandt did not play in the defensive backfield in 2002 but will be counted upon at CB this year.

Year three promises the best yet in football for the Pigeon Forge Tigers! Success breeds traditions and first year Head Coach David Ryan is anxious to see just how much his team improves in 2003. Region 1 3A has been dominated by traditional bullies Seymour and Gatlinburg-Pittman. Pigeon Forge promises to make it a three team race this season!

TNPrepSports.com Prediction: 8-2

Playoff Contender: Yes

Prep Tennessee Top Stories