Week Three is upon us and the Valley heads its separate ways to tackle the three regions on their way to postseason runs.
Bledsoe County hosts Region 3-2A foe Silverdale, Grundy County travels to Cannon County for some 4-3A action along with Smith County’s trip to Dunlap, and Whitwell hosts Division II power Davidson Academy. The Valley is once again engulfed by the region alignments made in 2014. Whether tough or quite the opposite, teams flock for a chance at the postseason.
SILVERDALE AT BLEDSOE COUNTY:
Seahawk Hunting Season
The Spread: Silverdale (+19.5) vs. Bledsoe County
Over/Under (Total Points): (38 Points)
The Hype: The Seahawks make their second of three trips to the Valley as they try to take down the Warriors in Pikeville. Bledsoe County took down the Seahawks last season, 39-28 at Silverdale. The Seahawks finished near the bottom of the barrel in the region, while the Warriors made the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. Both teams will run the ball, but the Warriors look to have a little more balance with Senior signal-caller
Film Room: Expect the Warriors to come out in shotgun sets, spreading the ball out while also keeping it traditional with some pro and under-center formations from time to time. Joseph Gore will be in the backfield with Sorrows, which creates a pretty balanced approach down the stretch. The Seahawks bolster a three-man front which is similar to a lot of teams in the Valley. The Seahawks defense isn’t as stout as some in the region and is really and unknown at this point as they tied with both teams they played in the Sequatchie Valley Jamboree.
The Seahawks fit into the Valley well with their tough defense and Wing-T approach. They tend to throw off of play action, which could throw the rush-heavy Warrior defense off-guard. It is a region matchup, though, so most expect it to be close matchup, and if it is, it will be the result of Silverdale’s offense. When they’re hot, they can turn the game around completely. The defense might need some help against the balanced attack of the Warriors, especially if they get down early.
Players to Watch
Bledsoe County: Chaise Sorrows (Senior Quarterback), Joseph Gore (Senior Halfback/Cornerback), Harley Smith (Junior Offensive Guard/Nose Guard), Derrick Pursley (Senior Linebacker/Offensive Lineman), and Kevin Whitson (Junior Linebacker/Tight End)
Silverdale: Cade Meadows (Junior Fullback/Middle Linebacker), Josiah Cannon (Senior Halfback/Outside Linebacker), Elijah Irwin (Junior Wide Receiver/Free Safety), Collin Lovell (Junior Quarterback/Free Safety), Connor Eischeid (Senior Kicker/Punter)
SMITH COUNTY AT SEQUATCHIE COUNTY:
‘Attack of the SC’
The Spread: Smith County (+29) vs. Sequatchie County
Over/Under (Total Points): (51 Points)
The Hype: The Indians are fresh off a two game streak against 1A programs, but they’ll take a detour this week as they head out to Smith County on the far reaches of Region 4-3A. The Owls are 1-1 on the season, starting with a blowout loss in week one and a 21-14 win over rival Gordonsville last week. Smith County made the playoffs last year and kept it fairly close with Sequatchie County, so they’re not a complete underdog, but a win against the Indians would be shocking among the Region elite.
Film Room: The Owls look to run shotgun sets with a spread out look under 5’8″ junior quarterback Carson Hackett. A lot of the sets feature three receivers, a tight end, and a back accompanying Hackett which calls for some work in the Sequatchie County secondary. The Owls’ Shemar King accompanies Hackett, and is a solid inside and outside threat for the Owls. Balance is the key in 4-3A, and the Indians emphasize the run on defense. They were able to stop the Owls through the air last season, and now they’re secondary looks region ready heading into week three.
The Indians showed a lot of great passing last week against a less-than-impressive Tiger secondary. Getting passes completed in the game is a big accomplishment and only helps the confidence of junior quarterback Ethan Barker. With a blooming tight end in Kyle Cates and the dual threat catching and rushing combo Austin Stevens brings, Barker has no shortage of targets. The main goal of week three is to pass more efficiently, but the win will come from the rushing game, more specifically Stevens and Hunter Davenport, who have been the go rushing targets for Sequatchie County.
Players to Watch
Smith County: Shermar King (Junior Wide Receiver/Halfback), Carson Hackett (Junior Quarterback), J. Edward Trainham (Senior Lineman), Kaleb Chabarria (Senior Wide Receiver/Cornerback), and Dalton Ausderau (Junior Wide Receiver/Cornerback)
Sequatchie County: Austin Stevens (Senior Halfback), Hunter Davenport (Senior Fullback/Linebacker), Ethan Barker (Junior Quarterback), Kyle Cates (Senior Tight End/Linebacker), and Gabe Jackson (Senior Lineman)
GRUNDY COUNTY AT CANNON COUNTY:
The Battle For Mid-Region Success
The Spread: Grundy County (-27) at Cannon County
Over/Under (Total Points): (41 Points)
The Hype: The Yellow Jackets are 0-2, and as unimpressive as that sounds, they can still right the wrongs by picking up a region win. Grundy County only needs to get past three teams to get into the playoffs: Cannon County, York, and Smith County. If they can pick up those wins, and maybe an upset, they could be rolling into the postseason. Still, they’ll have to start with week three against a mediocre Cannon County squad. The Lions are 1-1 with a very close (4 points, in fact) win against Class 1A foe Community. The Lions sound impressive already, not including their 4-58 record over the past six seasons and the last two games combined.
Film Room: The Lions bring a power running game to the table without a whole lot of balance. They might try to throw, but most of the offense revolves around the backfield with includes two senior twin brothers in all-around utility player Jake Walkup and quarterback Josh Walkup. Jayden Coon will be more or less a full-time tailback. The Lions run modified Pro-I sets with a wing to one side and a receiver out wide. The run game should be to Grundy County’s advantage as the Yellow Jackets tend to have more success stopping it.
As for the Grundy County offense, the split-back veer doesn’t change much and could gash the helpless Lion defense. Late in the game, if the Yellow Jackets haven’t put it away, the Lions do have depth after expanding their roster twofold in the past year. That could spell disaster Grundy County can’t put their foot on the pedal and go full throttle in the second half. That’s saying that they’ll be ahead. The Lions defense does not that same run-of-the-mill staff it had last year. It is improved.
Players to Watch
Grundy County: Kevin Castro (Senior Halfback), Dewayne Grooms (Senior Offensive Guard/Linebacker), James McDaniel (Senior Halfback), Matt Burrows (Senior Wide Receiver/Cornerback), and Grayson Lawson (Sophomore Offensive Tackle/Defensive Tackle)
Cannon County: Anton Knox (Senior Tight End/Fullback/Linebacker), Jake Walkup (Senior Tight End/Halfback/Linebacker) Cole Hill (Junior Lineman), Maika Fonoti (Senior Lineman), Josh Walkup (Senior Quarterback), Jaydon Coon (Senior Halfback), and Cort Litchford (Sophomore Wide Receiver/Cornerback)
DAVIDSON ACADEMY AT WHITWELL:
The Great Quarterback Mismatch
The Spread: Davidson Academy (-34.5) vs. Whitwell
Over/Under (Total Points): (63 Points)
The Hype: The Tigers picked up a win in week one, but fell very short of upsetting the Indians in week two. The same can be said for Davidson Academy, who took down Friendship Christian 37-29 before falling to Watertown, a team that nearly lost to Grundy County in 2015, 56-24. The Purple Tigers of Watertown, an indirect common opponent, lost by a similar score to Davidson last season. Lurking through four common opponent is dangerous territory, but for what it’s worth, this may not be the same Davidson Academy team that thrashed the Tigers last season in Nashville.
Film Room: The Bears look to run a spread-type shotgun for most of their looks, with two backs splitting the quarterback and two receivers out wide. Lead by nationally ranked sophomore quarterback Stone Norton, who has yet to receive an offer, Davidson Academy will likely shred the Tiger secondary when it gets a chance. The rushing game looks solid as well for the Division II postseason fence straddler. The Tigers might hold the Bears on the ground, but through the air is a different story. If head coach Tracy Malone can get his squad to corral the air attack, though, it’s possible the Tigers could get an upset as Watertown held the Bears to under 175 passing yards and took the win. Stone is used to throwing closer to 300 yards a game.
The Tigers have opened the playbook since Malone took over the helm. Sequatchie County head coach Adam Caine described the difference between last year’s team and this year’s team as a night and day improvement from the Helton era. They still have kinks to workout, but Tigertown will likely need a barnburner to hang on against the Bears. Not necessarily the pass, but a balanced attack, will have to continuously pump out points as the night goes on. The Davidson defense is down from last season just a bit, but that’s still a tough cookie to crack.
Players to Watch
Davidson Academy: Stone Norton (Sophomore Quarterback), Da’joun Hewitt (Sophomore Halfback/Cornerback), Eli Breece (Senior Cornerback/Halfback/Wide Receiver), Ben Switzer (Junior Wide Receiver/Cornerback), Dakota Makatche (Senior Defensive End/Tackle), and Austin Ford (Junior Running Back/Tight End/Outside Linebacker)
Marion County: Dawson Holloway (Senior Quarterback), Garrett Shrum (Junior Tight End/Defensive End), Trace Condra (Junior Halfback/Strong Safety), T.D. Argo (Junior Offensive Line/Defensive Line), Austin Nunley (Junior Kicker), and Hudson Petty (Sophomore Halfback/Defensive End)