Summer Preview: Pigeon Forge Tigers

So you went 5-6 in 2005 and things don't look so rosie? Well perk up Tiger Fans! Pigeon Forge has a new head coach, a new offensive scheme, a new defensive scheme and a new attitude! It doesn't hurt to return 2/3's of last seasons starters either...

Pigeon Forge High School

Head Coach: Mike Bramblett
Mascot: Tigers
Located: Pigeon Forge, TN
Class/ Region: 3A, Region 1
2005 Record: 5-6, 3-3 Region

2005 Schedule:

Aug. 19 at Tellico Plains W 27-6
Aug. 26 Meigs Co. L 13-27
Sep. 2 Rutledge R W 8-7
Sep. 9 at Gatlinburg-Pittman W 20-6
Sep. 16 at Carter R L 13-28
Sep. 30 at Union Co. R L 0-14
Oct. 7 Seymour R L 3-10
Oct. 14 Rockwood L 6-32
Oct. 21 Gibbs R W 44-7
Oct. 28 at Claiborne R W 21-19
Nov. 4 at Austin-East L 7-55

2006 Schedule:

Aug. 19 Tellico Plains
Aug. 26 @ Meigs Co.
Sep. 2 @Rutledge R
Sep. 9 Gatlinburg-Pittman
Sep. 16 Carter R
Sep. 30 Union Co. Oct. 7 @ Seymour R
Oct. 14 @ Rockwood
Oct. 21 @ Gibbs R
Oct. 28 Claiborne R

What's good about a 5-6 season? For the Pigeon Forge Tigers, there's lots of things. First of all, it's behind them and they the Tigers learned a lot from it. Second, the Tigers manged to mix 3 region wins into their 5 win total. Lastly, they have a new head coach in Mike Bramblett, who brings a new attitude and a 3-5 defense. A defense that is keenly suited to the Tigers strong suit....speed. He also brings a wide open, spread offense, that also plays to the Tiger after burners.

Now, that doesn't mean it's all roses in the Valley of the Pigeons, but this year should produce more W's a than L's and might see the Tigers competing with the best in 3A. Why? The Tigers return all their top receivers from last year, a 1000 yard rusher in Brandon Guidry and 8 total offensive starters. The Tigers also return 8 starters on defense.

Pigeon Forge will be young at QB, but at least junior Brett Shields has varsity experieince (400 yards passing, 3 TD's). He will enjoy the wide open, multiple attack Caoch Bramblett has installed. He'll also enjoy plenty of time to find targets behind a mostly veteran line. A line that graded out at an average of 79%. A line that includes 6'8" D1 prospect OT Garrett Beeler. Beeler was almost cut in half at the waist in a freak 4 wheeler accident his freshman year. You think he ain't tough?!

So, with all this window dressing, where's the rub right?

How's the schedule look?

Pigeon Forge is getting better at the exact same time that the majority of their region is doing the same. AND, they will have to travel to the most improved teams to get wins. Gibbs, Seymour and Rutledge will all be improved in 2006. They do get Carter and Claiborne at home, but those two teams are probably the most improved and could finish anywhere from 1 to 4 in the region.

To compund the issue, Pigeon Forge will win their share this season, but can they get over the hump and beat a team from Region 2 or 3 in the playoffs? Their 55-7 drubbing at the hands of a much more talented Austin East last season casts doubts on their ability to do that. BUT, this is a team one year older and wiser and the Tigers will attack from different angles than 1 year ago.

Key games:

Home vs. Carter and at Seymour

These two teams are the cream of the crop in Region 1, 3A. They were stellar a year ago and might be better this year. Both will compete heavily for top honors in the 3A East Bracket this year.

The Tigers have to go at least 1-1 against these two to feel good about having a shot at beating a Region 2 team in the playoffs and getting past round 1. Truth be told, the Tigers need to beat both and show the rest of 3A they mean business.

Best Offensive Player:

Senior RB Brandon Guidry

Guidry was the bright spot in an otherwise mostly forgettable season in 05. He rushed for 1001 yards and 12 TD's on 165 carries. He also caught 58 yards worth of insurance for his QB out of the backfield.

At 5'10", 185 lbs and possessing 4.5 speed, look for Guidry to flourish behind a veteran line. Reaching 1500 yards might be a walk in the park for this gifted RB.

Best Defensive Player:

Middle Linebacker David Gibson

Gibson amassed 84 tackles, dropped 9 for loss and threw in a sack as a junior. He'll anchor this mostly veteran defense. At 6'2" and weighing in at 210, Gibson packs the punch of a down lineman and can survey the field and not lose smaller runners and receivers.

Because he can count on 7 other returning starters around him, Gibson will look even better in 06.

Key player to a successful season:

The backups. Many of the Tigers quality backups will be sophomores this season. How they get the job done while giving the starters a rest will play heavily into how this season goes for the Tigers. Look for RB Logan Starrett (soph), DB Dale Farrell (soph), RB/LB Brandon Wilson (soph), PK Illya Dmitrev (soph) and RB/SS John Patty (Senior injured last season) to figure into the rotation prominently.

The season will be a success if...

The Tigers find a way to rule Region 1 and get past the first round of the playoffs. That means they beat Seymour, Carter, Gibbs and Claiborne, then beat AE, Fulton, or Catholic in the first round of the 3A playoffs. Whew! That ain't gonna be easy.

But these Tigers at the very least will put up a scrappy fight and will be right there in the mix at the end. The Tigers will learn a lot when much improved Tellico Plains shows up in Week Zero.

Tn Prep Sports prediction: 9-2

Tigers at the next level:

Bruce Belitz Austin Peay
Shane Canterbury Carson Newman
Ricky Branch Carson Newman
Zach Schrandt Davidson

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