OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE)- Oak Ridge ended the 2019 season 6-6 overall and 3-3 in their region, losing to West in the second round of class 5 A playoffs. While the expectation to make the postseason remains the same for a program that makes the playoffs just about every season—longtime head coach Joe Gaddis says the goal for this season is to their season, which he argues is one, if not the, toughest in the state.
“If you win our region you ought to be able to win a state championship and that’s exactly what we hope to do every year, especially this year,” said Gaddis.
The team is returning seven on offense and six on defense, making for a more experienced Wildcats team this season.; which will come as a slight advantage without scrimmages.
“Most people say you improve the most between games one and two but without scrimmages, we usually scrimmage twice, who knows when that improvement is going to happen, but we hope it happens quick,” said Gaddis.
Their offense will be led by second-year starter Mitchell Gibbons, adding experience and leadership at the helm. Gaddis had a good season last year, and Coach is expecting an even better one his senior year.
Gibbons will have plenty of targets too, deep at wide receiver this year.
“We have several wide receivers that can play,” said Gaddis.
Jonathan Stewart, one of those top targets, says the offense has great chemistry and the team is just excited to kick off their season.
“It’s [the team] looking pretty good,” said Stewart. “Everybody got enthusiasm and we just have a lot of energy, waiting for the season to start up, so we’re just ready to rock n roll.”
The Wildcats return their standout tailback Kendall Jackson who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last season. The Wildcats run a spread offense like most teams nowadays but expect the team to make more moves on the ground with Jackson in the backfield. With depth at wide receiver, Gaddis says they hope to throw more than years past.
On defense, Gaddis is tasked with filling a huge hole left by their leading tackler for the past three Jacob Adams. Despite his loss, Gaddis says overall their linebackers look “pretty good.”
“We’ve got couple guys back up front on defense and a couple of guys in the secondary and an outside linebacker back, so we’ve got like five or six back but without scrimmages, you don’t really know how you look. So, we’ll find out when we go to Hardin Valley,” said Gaddis.
The Wildcats open their season on the road against Hardin Valley on August 21—who they lost to 6-13 last season. Gaddis hopes to improve on offense this go-around, after a lackluster performance last year.
“We have to play better in that first game. The first half of the season last year we didn’t do much offensively, so we hope to do a lot better with a seasoned quarterback and so many guys back on offense, but our expectations are high,” said Gaddis.
The Wildcats will have a competitive season with a tough schedule, playing 6 A teams in Hardin Valley, Farragut and Mt. Juliet.
“It’s a tough schedule from beginning to end,” said Gaddis.
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