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Fall sports season set to start for Boone, Crockett

Nearly three months have passed since the end of the 2013-14 high school sports season. Now it’s time for the Trailblazers of Daniel Boone and Pioneers of David Crockett to welcome the return of high school sports to Gray and Jonesborough.
Volleyball, girls’ soccer, golf, and cross country will kick off the 2014-15 sports schedule with each respective team having their own goals and expectations for the upcoming season. But few sports energize the student body, fans and communities more than football.
On the gridiron, the Pioneers will enter 2014 off their best season in school history. Under first year Head Coach Jeremy Bosken, the Pioneers put together a resume that included: two wins over 5A schools, two wins over playoff teams, the second most wins in school history (with five) and just their second playoff appearance in 42 years.
Crockett lost eight starters on defense and four on offense, but bring back several who saw playing time last season in Bosken’s up-tempo system. Despite losing some depth, the Pioneers have improved in several areas, but none more than their physical strength. “Our physical strength has been our biggest improvement from last season,” Bosken said. “We really wanted to get stronger so we hammered the weight room this offseason and we can already see a difference.”
After last season’s success, expectations are high for Crockett to build on their 2013 accomplishments.
“Our seniors have set some goals for this year and they want to be the first Crockett team to go to back-to-back playoffs, the first Crockett team to host a playoff game, and the first Crockett team to win a playoff game,” Boskens said.
As for their rivalry with Boone, Bosken maintains a philosophy that requires his team to focus on one game at a time. However, after more than a decade of losing to the Blazers, the Pioneers are ready to take back the musket. “We want the musket,” Bosken said.
“It was definitely a point of emphasis for our players during our midnight camp. But we don’t use the ‘B’ word very often.”
After four straight postseason berths, stretching from 2009 to 2012, the Trailblazers of Daniel Boone missed the playoffs in 2013. A difficult schedule and a couple of tough breaks kept Boone at home last season, but with a wide open conference this season, the Blazers remain hopeful a return to the postseason is in order.
For that to occur, Boone will have to grow up quickly after losing 24 seniors from last year’s team.
The Blazers return five starters on offense and five on defense, but the losses have hit hardest on the offensive and defensive line, usually a strength for Boone’s physical style and tough mentality.
However, the Blazers hope to account for their lack of experience on the line with talented skill players. “I feel really good overall about our skill people,” Coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “Up front we have some quality kids, we just don’t have much experience.”
Jenkins believes his team’s speed from top to bottom as well as their depth at the skill positions should be a strength this season. But he reiterated their lack of experience in several positions.
“We are lacking game experience and we have got to get better there in a hurry,” Jenkins said.
Due to their youth, the Blazers have several question marks heading into the season, but Jenkins doesn’t believe that will necessarily equate to losses, especially in the conference.
“I expect our bunch to play hard. We want to be a physical football team and by the end of the season, we want to be one of the better football teams in our league.”
As for Crockett, “All we can worry about is Boone, what’s inside of these walls,” Jenkins said. “We don’t worry about anyone else, and we aren’t going to do a lot of talking. We can only worry about ourselves, and everything else will take care of itself.”
The Blazers will kick off the 2014 season on Friday, Aug. 22 at home against Elizabethton. Crockett will open on the road on Aug. 22 at Sullivan East.