It has no bearing on either football team's playoff fate, but it's certainly the type of early gauge that will help both Chattanooga Christian School and McCallie prepare for those future region games that actually do determine TSSAA postseason seeding.
Although it's been a mismatch in most years — with CCS an up-and-comer in Tennessee's midsize private school division and McCallie at or near the top of the state's largest and toughest league — the matchup has helped the Chargers pinpoint areas where work is needed to compete with the elite teams in Division II-AA.
For DII-AAA's Blue Tornado, it's simply an advantage to have an area team not in their region willing to schedule them annually. With the exception of perennial GHSA power Calhoun from northwest Georgia in 2020-21, the last local team willing to schedule McCallie besides CCS was Red Bank in 2016.
With the exception of the pandemic-altered 2020 season, CCS and McCallie have played every year since 2017. And while the Blue Tornado have won all of those meetings, with an average margin of 38-7, their head coach will take nothing for granted when they visit the Chargers on Friday night to open the season.
"A win would be nice," McCallie's Ralph Potter said when asked what he looked to learn from his team, which returns six starters on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Jay St-Hilaire and defensive lineman Carson Gentle, a pair of all-state performers who are committed to Vanderbilt and Tennessee, respectively.
"They have a good team, and Coach (Grant) Reynolds is a really good coach," Potter added. "They look big and strong up front and have good athletes across the field. The games have gotten a lot more competitive over the past couple of years, so we expect a good test right away."
McCallie led 14-0 at halftime in last year's meeting before pulling away slightly in the second half en route to an eventual 21-point win.
From there, CCS reeled off eight straight wins and both teams eventually reached the semifinals of their respective playoffs. The Chargers, however, must replace 17 seniors and will have new starters in several key positions, including an entirely new offensive backfield of quarterback Gavin Berger, who transferred from Battle Ground Academy, and running back Darrell Brown. Dre Jackson, meanwhile, is a big-play threat at receiver who was not on the roster last year.
CCS also will be under the direction of its third head coach in four years as Reynolds takes over, although he has a history of building championship-caliber programs.
"From our standpoint, this is a chance to open the season by being competitive against a really good team in a big-time environment," Reynolds said. "Also, for any of our kids who aspire to play in college, this is an opportunity to play against other college prospects.
"With some of the guys we lost off last year's team, I'm sure there are people who have written us off this season, and I've spoken to our kids about earning respect as a new team and a new staff. This is a fresh start and nothing is given, so this is the first shot we have to go out and earn our own respect with how we compete."
Contact Stephen Hargis at [email protected].
AREA PREP FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Games begin at 7:30 p.m. unless noted
Thursday, Aug. 17
Pepperell at Northwest Whitfield, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 18
Bledsoe County at Sequatchie County, 8 p.m.
Bradley Central at McMinn County
Central at Ooltewah
Chattanooga Prep at Boyd Buchanan
Cleveland at Clinton
East Hamilton at Hixson
East Ridge at Marion County
Lookout Valley at Grace Academy
McCallie at Chattanooga Christian
McMinn Central at Signal Mountain
Notre Dame at Walker Valley
Oliver Springs at South Pittsburg, 8 p.m.
Polk County at Copper Basin
Rabun Gap (Ga.) at Baylor
Sale Creek at Midway
Soddy-Daisy at Rhea County
Tyner at Red Bank
White County at Silverdale Baptist
Whitwell at Huntland, 8 p.m.
Armuchee at Gordon Central
Calhoun at Blessed Trinity
Chattooga at LaFayette
Christian Heritage at North Cobb Christian
Coahulla Creek at Murray County
Coosa at Southeast Whitfield
Dade County at Athens Academy
Dalton at North Murray
Gordon Lee at Trion
Lakeview-F.O. at Gilmer
Ringgold at Heritage
Sonoraville at Pickens
Saturday, Aug. 19
Brainerd at Howard, 5 p.m.