Alcoa's biggest struggle? Scheduling games

By: Wes Boling Email
By: Wes Boling Email

ALCOA, Tenn. (WVLT) -- There's not much for the Alcoa Tornadoes to complain about.

They're Tennessee's reigning prep football dynasty, rampaging their way to 43 straight wins and seven consecutive state championships.

And they're also having a hard time finding teams to play.

It turns out when you're a near lock to beat every team you're up against, teams don't want to go against you.

"A year or two ago I called 78 schools, and every one of them except for one turned me down," Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said.

Such difficulties are nothing new for dominant programs. But some coaches are going to extreme lengths to distance themselves from the Tornadoes.

Signal Mountain High School in Chattanooga decided to move up a classification and will play in the 4A division. Why? To avoid running into Alcoa in the playoffs.

“I’m not stupid. To have a shot of winning a state championship we knew we had to take a different route that didn’t include playing Alcoa,” Signal Mountain head coach Bill Price told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Other coaches are taking similar steps. South Pittsburg chose to play one fewer game rather than accept an invitation from the 3A powerhouse.

“We had a hard time finding teams our size that would play us, but when Alcoa called to say they had an open date the same week as us and wanted to play, I knew we couldn’t afford to risk playing them and get beat up right before the playoffs start,” South Pittsburg coach Vic Grider said.

The Tornadoes have remained undeterred, however. They are playing two defending state champions -- Greeneville and Maryville -- during the 2011 season, and they're also going head-to-head with Fulton, Austin-East and Cleveland.

But even historic local rivals like Heritage and William Blount refuse to play Alcoa, according to Rankin.

Such struggles are the direct result of success, though. And Rankin is more focused on earning more of that success than he is on getting into squabbles with coaches who refuse to play him.


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