Kickoff Classic returns for another year

The start of the 2013 high school football season is less than four weeks away, and the fifth annual Citizen Tribune Kickoff Classic at Burke-Toney Stadium will help open the season in the Lakeway Area on Saturday, Aug. 24.

 Two new schools join Morristown East and Morristown West in this year’s event, as West Greene and Whitley County (Ky.) take the place of four-year participant Fulton and Kentucky’s Harlan County this season.

 A shakeup in the lineup will be featured as well, as East will play in the 4:30 p.m. contest against West Greene after playing the late game the first four years, while West will face Whitley County in the night game at 8 p.m.

 Citizen Tribune publisher/ editor Mike Fishman said he has enjoyed watching the annual doubleheader grow into a community event in which a lot of excitement is showcased for both Morristown team’s season openers.

 “The Kickoff Classic has turned out to be a very nice community event,” Fishman said. “It gets the football fans excited about what our two Morristown high schools have got for the year. Everyone is excited at the beginning of the football season, and this is an awesome way to start the season.

 “The coaches have worked hard to evaluate opponents in this event to make it exciting for their fans and also to get their programs off to a good start.”

 East coach Dwayne Hatcher, entering his eighth season with the Hurricanes, echoed Fishman’s comments, saying the Kickoff Classic adds to the excitement of the beginning of the season.

 “It’s great for the community and give East and West a chance to get out there on the same day and get the season started,” Hatcher said. “Everybody is excited about the season starting up, and this adds to it.”

 Sixth-year West coach Lamar Brown said the Kickoff Classic has become one of the bigger games on the schedule each season.

 “The Kickoff Classic has always been a big game for us,” Brown said. “We have always had to be really well prepared and played a really good team, and it’s a great way to start the season off.”

 Hatcher had a role in establishing the Kickoff Classic from the beginning, but his teams have lost in all four appearances. This year, he wants that to change.

 “I played a part in helping to get this thing started, and we’ve not had any success in it,” Hatcher said. “It’s really important to me that we get a win. That would make me feel a lot better about it. Hopefully we can take care of business and be on the winning side this year.”

 Brown said it will be different for his team this year playing in the late game, but he doesn’t anticipate too much change form the normal game week routine other than a Saturday game day.

 “The whole town of Morristown is there with us and East both playing,” Brown said. “It’s going to be a little bit different this year with East playing the early game and us playing the late game for the first time.

 “We are playing at about the same time that we play on a Friday, except the game is on a Saturday. The difference is we are not in school. We will be on more of a normally game day, Friday night schedule, and it will fit in with what our kids are used to, so I don’t think playing at 8 p.m. will be much of a difference for us.”

 Hatcher said the biggest difference for his team would be adjusting to the heat with the game being played in the middle of the afternoon. How do they adjust? He said the ‘Canes must be in shape.

 “We have to be in shape,” Hatcher said. “We don’t know what the weather will be like this year, but in the past, it’s been hot. You have to be in shape for that 4:30 p.m. kickoff.”

 Brown said the best thing about the night has always been the community showing up to support both teams, and that is something he expects to continue this year.

 “It’s big for the town of Morristown,” Brown said. “We get to come together on a night where we don’t have to cheer against each other.”

 Tickets go on sale Aug. 8 at East High School for the Citizen Tribune Kickoff Classic. One ticket covers admission to both games, with a cost of $7 per ticket.

Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm