McGavock High Coach Jay Gore is hoping no sophomore or “second year’’ jinx awaits his football team this season.
Last year, the Raiders coach guided his team to a second straight playoff trip and wound up 8-3 with two of the losses (one in the first round of the playoffs) to Mt. Juliet.
The first few days of practice last week left Gore somewhat disappointed.
“The biggest thing was the number of players who didn’t show up,” Gore said. “We only had about 40-50 percent in attendance. You had the rest of the team there, working their tails off, getting ready for the season.
“We have about 40 on varsity and 24 freshman, and only about half of them have taken their physicals. Some of them live far out and some don’t have rides. We have 10 starters not here.”
One of those starters is defensive end Caleb Azubike who was a no-show Monday and came to practice late Wednesday and Thursday. He recently was part of a high-profile trio of prep seniors who committed early to Vanderbilt.
“Caleb does live far out from school, but his commitment to our team needs to be a little stronger,” Gore said. “He’s going to a school [Vanderbilt] which has made a scholarship available to him.”
• QB Battle: The tough first week aside, Gore mentioned that there is a hot quarterback battle developing to replace passing whiz Kody McKinley, who threw 23 touchdown passes last season. He graduated and in April signed with Bethel University.
Senior Pressley Gamble and junior Deanthony Patrick are dueling for the signal-calling duties.
“Both bring different skill levels to the table,” Gore said. “It’s been a good battle between the two.”
Having lost a host of receivers — among them Aaron Simms and Deante Battle — McGavock is counting on seniors Tony Mason and Carlos Harrison to re-stock the receiving corps.
“They’ve been working hard,” Gore said.
Repeating an 8-2 regular season may be a difficult chore.
“We play three of the top 11 ranked teams [in Class 6A] right off,” Gore said. “We play Tullahoma, then Mt. Juliet and Franklin and they all have outstanding teams. Our work is really cut out for us.”
The Raiders play Friday in the Metro Jamboree before opening Aug. 19 against Tullahoma.
• Metro Jamboree: The 43rd annual Metro Nashville Jamboree will open Thursday night at Maplewood with two segments scheduled.
At 7 p.m., the host Panthers meet Hillwood, followed by Pearl-Cohn against Hunters Lane, which is guided by new coach William Darnell.
On Friday, beginning at 6 p.m. at McGavock, the host Raiders open a three-segment parlay of games when they meet Stratford, followed by Hillsboro against neighborhood rival Overton, then Whites Creek against Antioch.
On Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m., Cane Ridge faces East Literature, followed by Ezell-Harding opposing Glencliff.
Also, a lot of eye-opening scrimmages are scheduled this week. Among them: Oakland at MBA (5 p.m.), CPA at Ezell-Harding (6 p.m.) and Brentwood at Hendersonville (6 p.m.), all on Tuesday. Hillsboro scrimmages at Ryan at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, and Smyrna scrimmages at Overton at 6 p.m. Thursday.
• What goes around: LeMore McGill has been named the new girls basketball coach at Maplewood, replacing Mark Hayes who resigned in February.
McGill returns to the school where he once coached, having guided the Panthers from 1997-2003 before moving on to Antioch and then Hillsboro.
• Lipscomb honors champs: The David Lipscomb Class AA state baseball champions and the individual state track champs will be honored when Lipscomb opens its football season Saturday, Aug. 20. The Mustangs host Camden.