Anyone who has followed Tellico Plains athletics the past few seasons likely knows of Dale Rinehart.
The multi-sport athlete was a standout for the Bears, leading Tellico’s football team at quarterback and helping pace its basketball team as well. Check any play-by-play or box score and his name won’t be hard to find.
Rinehart graduated from Tellico this spring, leaving a gaping hole in multiple rosters. What exactly are the Bears losing in Rinehart’s departure?
Rinehart was a four-year starter at quarterback for the Bears, proving a weapon both through the air and on the ground. Tellico’s offense was often tailored around him as the primary playmaker.
That’s what made it so tough when Rinehart spent most of his senior season out due to injury. Backups Reid Shaw and Landon Hollinghead played well in his stead, but nothing can replace a veteran signal-caller.
“Dale’s the leader of our offense,” Tellico head football coach Jon Rechtorovic said after the Bears’ season-opening win over Sequoyah. “I expect people to step up all the time and make plays. It’s not all about Dale. It’s about the team. We’re about the team.
“It ain’t about one individual. It’s all about team. Now Dale’s an excellent player, but we’ve got to count on other people to step up and make plays.”
The Bears’ potential had Rinehart stayed healthy was apparent even in the preseason. With a Rinehart-focused offense, the Bears fell to Loudon by only one point, 7-6, in the Sweetwater Valley Collision Jamboree.
The matchup lasted just one quarter. The Bears may well have pulled out a win over the Redskins, who went 13-1 last season, had the game been a full four quarters.
Nevertheless, Rinehart was Tellico’s go-to option through his four seasons as the Bears’ quarterback. It’s hard to find such a reliable, dynamic player, and it’s even harder to replace one.
Just as he was on the gridiron, Rinehart was effective on the basketball court.
Rinehart aided the Bears down-low as one of Tellico’s most aggressive post players. He consistently fought opposing forwards and centers for layups and rebounds.
That wasn’t all he could do. Rinehart could knock down jump-shots and 3-pointers, too, adding another layer to Tellico’s offensive attack.
He was named All-County both his junior and senior seasons, although he missed half of his senior campaign due to the injury sustained in football. When he returned, though, he added immediately strengthened Tellico’s on-court product.
With Rinehart’s graduation, Rechtorovic and Tellico head boys basketball coach David Tucker will have to find ways to make do without him. That’s much easier said than done.
Shaw, a rising junior, and Hollinghead, a rising sophomore, will compete for the Bears’ starting quarterback job.
Like Rinehart, both can throw and run effectively, so Rechtorovic may not have to change too much in his schemes moving forward.
The hard part for whoever mans the spot, though, is putting those skills, plus the leadership that the quarterback position demands, together to successfully lead a team.
On the court, Tucker’s roster features younger players that could see a rise in playing time due to Rinehart’s departure. Some are true post players, while others could serve as stretch fours in order to fill the void.
Whatever the two coaches choose to do, however, one thing is for certain: losing and replacing Rinehart won’t be near as fun for Tellico as it was utilizing his talents.