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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
The BlueCross Bowl weekend will have a new schedule this year, coinciding with a ninth state football championship game added to the slate.
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's Board of Control chose to begin rotating the championship games this year, allowing Division II's three championship games to be played on a day other than Thursday.
All DII football championship games had been played on Thursday of championship week since the BlueCross Bowl was moved to Cookeville in 2009.
"It's something the board wanted to do," TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said.
Childress said the board originally told Division II administrators their games would rotate when the BlueCross Bowl was moved to Cookeville, but it never happened until this season.
Prior to 2009, Division II held its championship games on a different weekend than the Division I games. In 2008, that date came on the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. The decision means this year teams in Class 1A, 3A and 5A will play on Thursday - six days after their semifinal game. The Class 2A, 4A and 6A games will be on Friday. Division II teams will play on Saturday, 15 days after their last game.
Coaches in 1A, 3A and 5A changed their practice schedules to overcome having one less day to prepare. In some cases that meant bringing in their teams on Sunday to begin game preparation.
"We had to adjust," said Cornersville coach Gerard Randolph, whose team plays Greenback at 11 a.m. Thursday. "We came in (Sunday). We had film session and then a full practice, which we normally don't do.
"We're going to adjust accordingly to the rest of the week. We'll treat Thursday like our Friday. We'll get our practices in."
Division II administrators had voiced their concerns over the years about having to play on Thursday, a school night, and not getting an opportunity to play on the weekend. However, at least one Division II coach was happy with playing on Thursday.
"I'd rather have played on Thursday," said Donelson Christian Academy coach Dennis Goodwin, whose team plays Friendship Christian at 11 a.m. Saturday in the DII-A championship. It marks DCA's first championship game since winning the Class 1A title in 2004. "I understand about rotating. But we haven't played in this format.
"We would have rather played on Thursday. But shoot, we're so tickled to be here we'll adjust to whatever."
Randolph led Cornersville to its first state championship game in school history. Prior to this year, the Bulldogs were 0-6 in the postseason.
"Honestly, just being here is just amazing," Randolph said. "Yes, I would like another day.
"But it is what it is. We're going to go out and play Cornersville football if it's Thursday or Friday."
Reach Tom Kreager at email@example.com or 615-259-8089 and on Twitter @Kreager.
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