Daniel Boone and David Crockett football often split the Washington County community in two, but the middle school kids seem to be bridging that gap as they embark on a unique journey of their own.
For the first time, Washington County will have two middle school teams. Instead of having one team for all of the elementary and middle school, 10 in total, the schools will be configured into two teams this year. A Pioneer team — made up of Grandview, Lamar, West View, Jonesborough and South Central — and a Daniel Boone team — made up of Sulphur Springs, Boones Creek, Gray, Ridgeview and Fall Branch.
The Daniel Boone team is being led by Eddie Good, who has spent the last 12 years coaching the Daniel Boone freshman team. So he is used to bringing kids from different schools together to use their talent for the betterment of the team.
The Pioneer group will be led by first year coach Jacob Adkins, who is learning the logistics every day.
“It’s been a learning experience,” Adkins said. “There have been some bumps and bruises along they way, but honestly it has gone better than I had anticipated.”
The Pioneers practice and will play their home games at Grandview, while the Daniel Boone bunch practices and will play at Ridgeview.
Good said that some parents might have had some concerns, but as of now, none have expressed them to him.
“I was afraid that some of the parents wouldn’t like it, but they have bought in,” Good said.
And both coaches have bought in as well , joining one another for 7-on-7 workouts, scrimmages and practices during the summer.
“It has been really great,” Adkins said of the relationship between the two programs. “Obviously, they are Daniel Boone and we are David Crockett, but ultimately, we want Washington County to be better. And we think this is going to help that.”
The schools conjoining into two teams also means that they will have to play bigger schools. No longer able to just play themselves, now they will go against Liberty Bell, Sevier and Greeneville, along with other, larger schools. That is a tough, but welcomed schedule as they step up in competition.
“Our middle schools were playing a smaller classification of team and then when they got to high school we were playing a higher classification,” Good said. “So this will help us with competition. It is going to be a lot tougher competition.”
His cross-county counterpart agreed, with both coaches mentioning that it will help build a solid foundation for the high schools.
“Our big goal with this is just to get the kids ready, so that when they get to David Crockett, there isn’t much of an adjustment period,” Adkins said.
The school system is responsible of getting the kids to the practice fields and their parents pick them up after practice. Also with the change, 6th graders can no longer play for the middle school teams, but will have to seek other opportunities in the community to participate.
“A 6th grader, playing on an 8th grade team, isn’t a safe thing, I don’t think,” Good said.
Each group will field two teams — a junior varsity team mainly made up of 7th graders — and a varsity team which will mainly consist of 8th graders.
The Daniel Boone team will suit up 28 on the 8th grade team, while fielding close to 20 kids for the 7th grade team. The Pioneers will field close to 45 in total, with pretty much split numbers, according to their coach.
It has also allowed the kids to get a bit of a rest, so they don’t have to play on both offense and defense.
Having all of the schools come together before high school will help build a stronger program, according to Daniel Boone football coach Jeremy Jenkins.
“I feel like it will get them better prepared for the next level,” Jenkins said. “We are committed to it and it will help better the foundation for the high school program.”
David Crockett football coach Jeremy Bosken agreed, saying he really liked the idea of having a group of kids coming in that already know the way that he likes to do things.
“I absolutely love it,” Bosken said. “We have a great coaching staff that is doing a great job uniting our five different schools. I absolutely love that our administration joined us back as one community and one team.”
Kickoff for the middle schools is on Thursday, with Grandview traveling to Sevier in Kingsport and Ridgeview hosting Liberty Bell. JV games will start at 5:30 p.m., while varsity will take the field at 7 p.m.