|No. 2 Twisters not on a sight-seeing tour to top |
|Posted: Wednesday, September 2, 2009 5:03 pm |
|While not just along for the ride, Darren Bowling is encouraging his team to enjoy the journey. |
The news Tuesday that Union City was ranked No. 2 in the first Associated Press prep poll did not bring about the typical coachspeak from the Tornado skipper.
Instead, Bowling — in a stray from the normal stance taken by paranoid coaches wary of the potential distractions — says he’s talked to his team in-depth about such attention.
“We knew there were expectations of us coming into the season. And, rather than let that and the attention that goes with it be something that keeps us edgy, we are dealing with it head-on and just letting it be a part of our journey,” the Union City head coach said. “Hopefully, that journey will have a great ending destination.
“Really, though, all rankings are mythical. You can’t pay attention to them and buy into the hype. You certainly can’t allow them to dictate how you prepare and play games.”
The Tornadoes trail only South Pittsburg in the initial rankings.
The Pirates were nearly a unanimous choice for the top spot, collecting 15 of 17 first-place ballots cast by AP member writers and broadcasters.
SP had 172 total points to 129 for Union City.
Huntingdon, which split games against District 13AA members Westview and Milan in the first two weeks of the season, is third, setting up a possible meeting between Nos. 2 and 3 next week at War Memorial Stadium if both teams win on Friday. The Mustangs were just four total points behind UC in voting.
The Tornado program, a regular in the poll for a five-year stretch from 1997-2001 when it was listed for an amazing 36 consecutive weeks, made its first appearance in the listings in seven years last season when they cracked the Top 10 in Week 7. UC finished the year at No. 8.
Union City was listed at No. 1 15 times in the aforementioned run of consecutive weeks in the poll.
Several other rural West Tennessee teams were listed in their respective classifications when the rankings came out Tuesday.
In Class 2A, McKenzie was third and Adamsville 10th with Humboldt also receiving votes.
The 3A pecking order has Milan (2-0) behind only No. 1-ranked Alcoa, which ended an eight-year losing streak against fellow Blount County powerhouse Maryville in Week 1. Camden, with wins over McKenzie and Bruceton, is fourth.
Crockett County, which hosts Obion Central in a District 13AA matchup Friday, is fourth and tops among three area teams in Class 4A.
Liberty (1-1) is listed fifth and Jackson South Side ninth.
Dyersburg was on the fringe of the Top 10 at No. 11.
Henry County is second in Class 5A.
A complete listing of the polls can be found on page 15.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.