When people think of football on Thanksgiving day, it usually involves teams such as the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, or Atlanta Falcons.
However, this year, the festivities will feature the Campbell County Cougars and the Lake City Mavs.
Local football players are looking to play with the big time in this years Battle in Rocky Top this coming weekend. Next week, beginning on Thanksgiving day, they will compete in the Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Bowl.
“We’re really excited about playing these teams and getting some exposure out there for Campbell County,” the Cougar 7 and under (7U) head coach Brent Lester said.
“We’re playing this weekend in the nation’s largest tournament in Knoxville. This is the largest youth tournament in the country.”
With the Battle in Rocky Top set to kickoff Saturday, Nov. 17, it’s sure to be a big tournament.
“There are 264 teams from 21 states represented at this, overall age-wise,” Steve Phillips, director of the Campbell County little league said. “Our first game is against at team from Indiana. It’s a big accomplishment, and the kids get to enjoy it.”
Phillips also helps coach the Lake City Mavs 8 and under (8U) team, which is comprised of some Campbell County players as well.
For the Rocky Top Battle, Tennessee, North Carolina, Indiana, Montana, New York, Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky, Iowa, Missouri, Georgia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Texas, Alabama, Illinois, Florida, and Michigan are all represented.
“It’s good for the kids,” Phillips said. “If we combine two teams, I’m not trying to put any kid down, but we felt like we took the best off of both teams that were available. That team that I’m helping with, we came in second in the Tri-County Bowl in Oliver Springs.”
With 32 teams in the 8U division, the Lake City Mavs took runner-up. However, it was the circumstance that most surprised Phillips.
“They came from Crossville, and Farragut had a team,” he said. “The good thing about it was that it was two teams out of our conference that we play in during regular season. It was two teams out of the Volunteer Football Conference playing in the championship. That pretty much shows what kind of talent level is in our conference.”
Oak Ridge took the victory, 12-0 in the title game.
This weekend, the 7U Campbell County Cougars will take to action Saturday at Hardin Valley Academy. Kickoff is slated for 2:30.
From Campbell County, Will Lester, Mason Shanks, Hunter Goodman, Jake Morgan, Christian Kennedy, Storm Webb, Devon Jones, and Ethan Johnson will take the field.
The 8U Lake City Mavs will kickoff at Fulton High School at 5:10 p.m.
Cole Phillips, Caleb Osborne, Riley McCulley, Skylar Clawson, Johnathan Paul, and Alex Baird are Campbell County natives playing for the Lake City team.
“The players are extremely excited,” Lester said of the Thanksgiving Bowl. “It’s an honor to get picked to go to this bowl and compete against some of the best competition in our age group.”
Last season, the Lake City Mavs finished runner-up in the Thanksgiving Bowl. The team lost to a North Henry, Georgia team.
“It was their team’s 42nd ball game together,” Phillips said of the championship game. “It was our teams eighth. The talent level is just unreal. That’s the best kids in that area. It helps (our kids) tremendously.”
On Thanksgiving day, the Mavs will look to kickoff a 9:15 a.m., while the Cougars are slated for 3:30 p.m.