Another week is upon us, and there isn’t much of a ‘cons’ list to make up.
While our game of the week is securely between two Valley, Region 3-1A opponents. Other teams continue their region quests with no single team being completely out of contention for the postseason. In fact, you could say things are getting interesting as Region 3-2A and 4-3A continue to pour out week-to-week drama, outside of their top dogs.
It’s a compelling week in the Valley so make it count before it’s gone. Think it’s still a ways away–think again, it’s Week Eight.
BY THE NUMBERS
237–Combined Over/Under Total Points For All Week Eight Valley Matchups
(-21) — Overall Spread for Sequatchie Valley Teams in Week Eight [(-) = Favored, (+) = Underdog]
4–Number of TN AP Ranked Teams in This Week’s Matchups (South Pittsburg, Sequatchie County, Marion County, and Boyd-Buchanan)
4–Number of Wins By Valley Teams Last Week
3–Number of Teams Favored to Win Week Eight Matchups
2–Number of Valley Teams favored to win by more than 10 Points in Week Eight
1–Number of Valley Teams with Unblemished Records
DEKALB COUNTY AT GRUNDY COUNTY:
‘Marty, We Have To Go Back!’
The Spread: Dekalb County (-15) at Grundy County
Over/Under (Total Points): (33 Points)
Last Five Matchups: Dekalb County 28-20 (2015) | No Other Matchups Listed
The Hype: Take a step in time back to 2015. The Yellow Jackets were a one-win team with not much of a chance to get a second. Dekalb County was a game away from being a region champ, thought that game wouldn’t be played by the Tigers, but two other elite teams in 4-3A. Bolstered up by its rankings in the AP poll at the time, the Tigers were televised in a showing that Dekalb County would rather forget, having to comeback and beat the Yellow Jackets in a 28-20 victory. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. That’s what Casey Tate hopes to emulate this Friday in Caolmont as they face a downed region foe.
Film Room: The Yellow Jackets stick with the Split-Back Veer for the most part, trying to build the passing game off of play-action and option situations. A lot of their big plays are on the ground, several of which happened last year out in Smithville. Behind an above average backfield, the Yellow Jackets could push past a less-than-stingy Tiger defense down the middle. If Grundy County pulls out the win it will be due to their successful passing game, which hasn’t shown up as much this season.
The Tigers are based more out of a shotgun system with stints of pistol and center formations. The loss of Steven Jennings is a huge one as he was an All-State quarterback and playmaker for Dekalb County. His replacement, junior Tyler Cantrell, isn’t too shabby though, maintaining a lead against Smith County in then second half two weeks ago. It will be hard to tell if he’s up to the task, though, because of the game against 4A and overpowering Macon County. Look for a lot of outside runs and passes against a Grundy County defense that has had some gaps on sideline-to-sideline coverage.
Players to Watch
Dekalb County: Tyler Cantrell (Junior Quarterback/Free Safety), Riley Sexton (Junior Strong Safety/Wide Receiver), Tayvian Nokes (Senior Defensive Tackle), Eli Cross (Senior Defensive End), and Matthew Poss (Senior Kicker/Punter)
Grundy County: Kevin Castro (Senior Halfback), Dewayne Grooms (Senior Offensive Guard/Linebacker), James McDaniel (Senior Halfback), and Matt Burrows (Senior Wide Receiver/Cornerback)
BLEDSOE COUNTY AT TYNER ACADEMY:
Lost in the Region
The Spread: Bledsoe County (+15) at Tyner Academy
Over/Under (Total Points): (47 Points)
Last Five Matchups: Tyner 20-0 (2015) | Tyner 49-22 (2008) | Tyner 40-13 (2007) | Tyner 44-0 (2006) | Tyner 41-20 (2005)
The Hype: The Warriors come in off of back-to-back losses against AP-ranked opponents from both 3A and 2A, one more narrow than the other. The Buccaneers may have won by 24, but those points were hard to come by and were later in the game. The Warriors travel to Tyner which may seem hostile, but, in fact, with the travelling crowds of Pikeville, they might not feel as much pressure. After finding their groove before this suicide stretch of games, the Warriors have been looking up with their dog-fighting mentality. And after dismissing it early, I do think that Bledsoe County is the ultimate Valley underdog.
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 Buccaneers have an improved secondary and may be able to take away the pass if the Warriors decide to throw. They can shut down a rushing game somewhat, but Gore’s legs might be the key in this one.
If there’s a phrase to describe Tyner’s offense, it would be ‘a tad bit unorthodox.’ The Rams base out of a Pro-Style formation but can vary into slightly modified Wing-T and Shotguns sets. Tyner can throw, and they showed their clout against Boyd-Buchanan, who they only lost to 22-24 late in the ballgame. Senior quarterback Shaylan Bailey doesn’t exactly fit the eye test, but he can get the job done in his own style of signal-calling. Look for rushing threats Rahle High, K’un Webb, and Jeremy Elston who have combined for six touchdowns and over 400 yards on the ground this season.
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)
Tyner Academy Rams: Shaylan Bailey (Senior Quarterback), K’un Webb (Junior Halfback/Split-End/Cornerback/Safety), Patrick Childress (Senior Outside Linebacker/Running Back), Devon Waight (Senior Fullback/Linebacker), Rahle High (Junior Running Back/Cornerback)
WARREN COUNTY AT SEQUATCHIE COUNTY:
Hurdling the Unbeaten Curse
The Spread: Warren County (+8.5) at Sequatchie County
Over/Under (Total Points): (32.5 Points)
Last Five Matchups: Warren 21-16 (2015) | Warren 40-7 (2006) | Warren 39-28 (2005) | Sequatchie 7-0 (1965)* | No Other Matchups Known
The Hype: Whitwell, fresh off a bye week and huge win over Lookout Valley, have a roll going on after hitting a rough patch earlier in the season with stellar opponents. You can’t fix scheduling midseason, but you can change the fundamentals your team displays. Tracey Malone has tweaked his team, getting ready for the eventual matchup with Cookeville-bound South Pittsburg. For now, though, they’ll have to focus on making the playoffs with wins over teams like Grace Academy and Copper Basin. And did we mention Columbia Academy on the schedule?
Film Room: The Indians come in with a Wing-T set, expanded for use in Region 4-3A. That includes pistol and shotgun formations used with both rushing and passing plays. With Warren County being somewhat of a test for Sequatchie County, they’re sure to bring out some different formations. Ethan Barker has the passing game clicking which can be deadly late in the season against a slate that looks a lot easier to control than originally thought. Don’t be surprised if the Indians play close and use a trick play or two to throw off the Pioneers. A powefful back can easily get past the outside defenders of Warren County, so outside running is actually encouraged and endorsed, for once, by yours truly.
Expect a lot of mixed formations from Warren County, ranging from Shotgun to Pistol to Traditional I-formations. Isaiah Thompson, senior quarterback, has ability to hurt with his arm or legs at anytime. Although they stick with more seasoned formations, they try to run opposite of what they suggest. As an example, in I-Formation they will try to counter and run to the outside. This is all mixed in with a little bit of option, so look for a lot attempts at it if they trail early.
Players to Watch
Warren County: Isaiah Grayson (Junior Quarterback), K’Rojhn Calbert (Senior Offensive Tackle), Jaden Crisp (Senior Middle Linebacker), Brandon Velaquez (Senior Strong Safety), Shawn Woodlee (Junior Fullback)
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)
MARION COUNTY AT SILVERDALE:
The ‘Starplex’ Flashback on the Gridiron
The Spread: Marion County (-23) at Silverdale
Over/Under (Total Points): (57 Points)
Last Five Matchups: Marion 58-6 (2015) | There are no other known matchups
The Hype: It’s a battle of region unbeatens down at Silverdale. And it might very well be the No. 1 and 2 seeds going into the postseason. Silverdale has proved impressive with wins over Polk County and Bledsoe County. Although they did lose to Meigs County, if they take care of business at Tyner later in the season they could be in. It’s not likely they’ll put up a lot of numbers in this game, but if it’s close, expect it to be because of a barn-burner.
Film Room: The Warriors have their Wing-T offense running on all cylinders as we head into week eight. More balanced than ever, taking down then-No. 2 Boyd-Buchanan in dominating fashion, Marion County leaves no doubt that they’re destination is Cookeville. Plain and Simple. Dominating a defense, that many said was overrated, is an accomplishment in itself, but holding that offense to a goose egg screams championship contender. With Jacob Saylors and Hunter McClain giving Sophomore quarterback Isaiah Sampson all the help he can handle, Silverdale feels like a breeze, but the flow of the game might fly right past the Warriors on the offensive side of the ball if they’re not careful.
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 if effective enough. It is a region matchup, though, so most expect it to be close, 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
Marion County Warriors: Hunter McClain (Senior Linebacker/Running Back), Alex Kirkendoll (Senior Tight End/Linebacker), Eli Morrison (Senior Offensive Lineman), Jacob Saylors (Junior Running Back/Defensive Back), and Kane Hale (Junior Wide Receiver/Free Safety)
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),and Connor Eischeid (Senior Kicker/Punter)