Tyler Corbit --
Since 2010 the TVC title has gone to one of these two schools an impressive 8 out times out of the last 9. If it not for a dominant 2015 Alexander team, every title this decade would belong to the Bulldogs and the Buckeyes.
But this isn’t an article about the Bulldogs or the Buckeyes, it’s about the teams like Alexander. The dark horse, the senior-heavy team that might just take this league by storm. This might just be the most open the league has been in this past decade. Realistically, any team could win the league this season, but I’m taking a look at the teams I see most likely to join the ranks of 2015 Alexander.
The only other team to win a TVC title this decade has its best shot since 2015 to add another banner. That is thanks, especially to one player. Kaleb Easley. This is a name that everyone needs to remember. When the season commences he will be under center to start the season for the third straight season. He is more than just a leader on offense, on defense Easley is an all-district linebacker who makes his presence known everywhere. Easley is a leader in every way. The last time Alexander laid their hand on some hardware, they had a dynamic playmaker on both sides of the ball: Mason Chapman. Easley resembles Chapman in many ways. He is able to make plays with his arms but especially his legs. He is even better on defense, he creates havoc and makes life hard for opposing quarterbacks and running backs.
Vinton County lost both Cade Sibner, the league’s leading rusher and Lincoln Hayes, one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers, but this Viking team retains a lot of trench players and a large part of their defense. The team returns top players on defense such as Will Arthur, Logan Baker, Jacob Wells amongst a myriad of studs. The team’s offense will be potent with Braylon Damron returning under center after a strong freshman campaign. Damron can sling the rock and he has playmakers who can make things happen. This Viking defense should be stingy as ever. Games in McArthur will come down to their dynamic backfield. Between bruising back Baker and dynamic athlete Elijah Williams, playmakers are littered around this team. The team is also under completely new leadership. Travis Bethel, a Vinton County graduate, takes over the reins. Jeff Downs did a serviceable job with the program, but Bethel brings a different energy. Expect him to light a new fire under the program.
Coulter Cleland. What more do I say? When you have a kid who will likely be the league’s best quarterback for the next three years, you always have a shot at a league crown. Cleland threw for around 2,000 yards while unable to legally drive a car. If he grows at the same rate, expect an easy 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns from Cleland. The biggest concern with Meigs is their lack of weapons, both Bartrum brothers are gone and Cole Adams graduated. Cleland will have a mostly new receiving corp to spread the rock around to. Meigs has adopted more of an aerial attack this past season and if new leadership allows Cleland to continue to air it out, Cleland will help the Marauders challenge the Bulldogs and the Buckeyes.
So who do I think is the most likely potentially end the Bulldog and Buckeye dynasty? Let’s first talk about why I don’t think two teams will. I cannot see Alexander unseating the duopoly in the league. Alexander has a brutal non-conference schedule, the team will have to slug it out for the first three weeks of their schedule before a trip with Athens week 4. If Alexander rolls into the Plains with a 3-1 record, this team could shock teams, but if not, a .500 record is not out of the question. Meigs has the best arm in the conference, but they lost so many weapons. Much like Alexander, Meigs has a brutal stretch of games to open the season as well. Therefore I am predicting that if any team is to upset the Bulldog and Buckeye run, it will be the Vikings. They return a lot on offense and have a defense just as tough as last year’s. If their new coaching staff gets the team hungry to play, they can surprise a lot of teams. Lukas Moore previously said that Travis Bethel may be the next TVC coaching legend and I agree. Mostly because I think his legend grows beginning this season.