KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Oak Ridge Wildcats are matched-up against the Clinton Dragons and the game is quite the rivalry. “It’s a big region game number one,” said Oak Ridge Head Coach Joe Gaddis, “but a big, big rivalry.”
It’s odd to have such a big rivalry for the first game, but Clinton High School head coach , Josh Kerr, said his players have been counting down days to the first big game. “You got a lot of the jitters to get out. You got a lot of kids that haven’t played varsity football,” said Kerr.
WATE 6 On Your Side was at Oak Ridge as fans tailgated before the big match. Coach Gaddis said he hopes some of that atmosphere will translate to the field.
“We don’t particularly like one another, but on the other hand we respect one another. It’s a good rivalry. It’s a good, clean rivalry. There’s some definite intense feelings on both sides, ” said Gaddis.
Both teams have some strong players. Clinton has quarterback Tyler Thackerson. “Having a kid like him, having a player like him it’s like having a coach on the field,” said Coach Kerr. Kerr said Thackerson is going into his third year and their is a lot of trust.
“He can hurt you running. He can hurt you throwing. If you pressure him and don’t get him he’s evasive to buy time for his receivers to get open. If you don’t pressure him he’ll lie back there and pull you apart,” said Gaddis. He said Thackerson is going to be a real problem for his defense, but he hopes they are up for the task.
The Wildcats have Tee Higgins, who has received offer levels for basketball and football. Coach Gaddis said he hopes Higgins will be a great weapon.
“We’re going to throw the ball to him as much as we can or I’m an idiot” said Gaddis. “Basically he’s the guy that has it all as far as a wide receiver. He can jump. He can run. He’s got great speed and he’s a real good blocker. He’s only getting better.”
Fans are also ready for the big game. “I’m looking forward to a big turn out in the fans and talking trash on the field, Clinton is going to come out with some confidence so we have to come out and shut them down early,” said Oak Ridge Senior Gavin Warrington.