The Playoffs are here! Rejoice!
That’s about enough said, don’t you think!
HOWARD AT SEQUATCHIE COUNTY:
‘Back to the Scenic City’
ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: Sequatchie County Leads 5-0 (Since 1989)
The Spread: Howard (+12.5) at Sequatchie County
Over/Under (Total Points): (32 Points)
Last Five Matchups: Indians 6-0 (1994) | Indians* (1993)
Indians 33-0 (1992) | Indians 8-0 (1991) | Indians 27-0 (1989)
*No documented score but it was documented as a win for Sequatchie County.
The Hype: This will likely be the closest of the Valley’s round one matchups other than Whitwell-Summertown, but it’s really a toss up to either. The Indians are only favored by two scores heading into Friday night, but the Tigers’ region has not played the 4-3A region teams thus far, so this matchup can tell us a lot about where Sequatchie County will end up later in the playoffs against Red Bank and Notre Dame. Don’t overlook the Tigers, though, who haven’t picked up a win against the Indians in the history of the series.
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. 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. There are some injuries, but they look to be healed pretty soon and to be a non-factor in a game like this.
Howard uses a rush-first offense with a sometimes deadly downfield passing game. Sometimes running out of shotgun and sometimes center, three wing-backs sit on the same side of the backfield in a horizontal fashion. Vincent Bowling is an underrated passer, but has the tendency to leave the pocket at the first sign of pressure, which can be deadly against the Sequatchie County pass defense.
BOLD PREDICTION: SEQUATCHIE COUNTY, 32-12
Players to Watch
Howard Hustlin’ Tigers: Tadarius Covington (Senior Offensive Guard), Jacques Yarbrough (Senior Slotback), Eric johnson (Freshman Middle Linebacker), Calvin Johnson (Senior Cornerback), Vincent Bowling (Senior Quarterback), KeDarrius Phinazee (Senior Strong Safety), and Tawon Billups (Sophomore Halfback)
Sequatchie County Indians: Austin Stevens (Senior Halfback), Hunter Davenport (Senior Fullback/Linebacker), Ethan Barker (Junior Quarterback), Kyle Cates (Senior Tight End/Linebacker), and Gabe Jackson (Senior Lineman)
WESTMORELAND AT MARION COUNTY:
Different ‘Seed’, Same Tree
All-Time Series Record: Series Tied at 2-2 (Since 1997)
The Spread: Westmoreland (+32.5) at Marion County
Over/Under (Total Points): (41 Points)
Last Five Matchups: Warriors 42-0 (2015) | Eagles 27-0 (2006) | Marion 21-20 (2005)
Eagles 30-14 (1997) | No other recorded matchups.
The Hype: The Warriors come in with a 21-game home winning streak and don’t intend to break it anytime soon. The last time they loss was in the 2013 during the regular season. The Warriors also defeated Westmoreland just last season by a huge margin, so there’s a lot of things Mathis can do offensively just from looking back at last year’s film. There’s not much you can say about this Bill Baxter showdown expect for “Honey, we’ll be home before halftime.”
Film Room: The Warriors have their Wing-T offense running on all cylinders as we head into season finale off a bye week. More balanced than ever as they continue to dominate the region, Marion County leaves no doubt that they’re destination is Cookeville. Plain and Simple. Dominating defenses, that many say were overrated, is an accomplishment in itself, but doing it every game is an accomplishment in itself. With Jacob Saylors and Hunter McClain giving Sophomore quarterback Isaiah Sampson all the help he can handle, Westmoreland is sure to be a breeze, but never underestimate an opponent.
The Eagles look to run a hybrid split-back veer, which is not stranger to the folks in Jasper as it won them four State Championships in the early to mid 90s. Still, the level of talent is far lower that that of the Warriors. A system like that, though, can thrive with big offensive line play, which the Eagles have found in 2016. With quarterback Blake Carter leading the helm for the Eagles, they have a chance to pass more than run against the title-contending Warriors. Expect outside runs from Corey Gardner, who had been exceptional this season for the Eagles, to get yards on the ground early. The key will be closing off the outside edge of Westmoreland’s stout offensive line.
BOLD PREDICTION: MARION COUNTY, 53-6
Players to Watch
Westmoreland Eagles: Josh Harper (Offensive Tackle), Jacob Harper (Offensive Tackle), Ryan York (Senior Center), Blake Carter (Senior Quarterback), and Corey Gardner (Senior Running Back)
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)
SUMMERTOWN AT WHITWELL:
TigerTown Looks to Last into the ‘Winter’
All-Time Series Record: No Previous Meetings
The Spread: Summertown (+14.5) at Whitwell
Over/Under (Total Points): (34 Points)
The Hype: The Tigers are set to drop the temperatures of Summertown this week, trying to send the Eagles home cold turkey without a win. The Tigers come into the matchup off a closer-than-expected win against Copper Basin to claim the home playoff game. With a second-round date with Columbia Academy, the Tigers hope to make a run for the quarterfinals, but they must start with the most important one: the first.
Film Room: Whitwell’s pistol offense is legitimate. Head coach Tracy Malone has proven his athletes fit in the pistol system really well as they’ve played close with team that they shouldn’t have, including Columbia Academy and Davidson Academy. With Dawson Holloway leading the way on offense, this team is set to flourish offensively against the Eagles who have had trouble containing teams with multiple formations and ball-carrier routes.
The Eagles tend to base out of shotgun formations with spread tendencies. Senior signal-caller Riley Chapman, though, seems to go under center and put his team in a split-back veer system closer to the goal line inside the redzone. With Chase Mote leading a rush attack, mainly to the outside, and De’Ray Duke leading the reception department, the Eagles are still a threat for the Tigers. The most worrisome aspect they bring to the table is the option that comes out fo the Split-back veer. The Tigers did see it earlier in the season, though, against Grundy County.
BOLD PREDICTION: WHITWELL, 22-10
Players to Watch
Summertown Eagles: Chase Mote (Senior Running Back), De’Ray Duke (Senior Wide Receiver), Mason Williams (Sophomore Defensive End), Lennox Johnson (Sophomore Middle Linebacker), Bradley Huckaba (Junior Running Back), Riley Chapman (Senior Quarterback), and Justin Busby (Sophomore Offensive Guard)
Whitwell Tigers: 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)
CORNERSVILLE AT SOUTH PITTSBURG:
A Piece of ‘Beene’ Cake
All-Time Series Record: No Previous Meetings
The Spread: Cornersville (+42) at South Pittsburg
Over/Under (Total Points): (53 Points)
The Hype: No game can ever be taken for granted. That being said, a Pirates’ first round playoff game can often be chalked up high on the scoreboard without any hesitation. In fact, the Pirates have either won their first round matchup or received a bye for nine straight seasons, dating back to 2007. Only twice in the modern era (since 2001) have the Pirates lost a first-rounder. It should be an easy Friday but never doubt the power of ‘any given week.’
Film Room: The Pirates will be difficult to stop with speed and an outside run game coming out of the Wing-T. With the increasing success of an excellent passing game from Hogan Holland this season, the Pirates improved, significantly, an already Cookeville-caliber team. Their balance should help things run smoothly against a Cornersville defense who struggles against outside runs and various spread-style plays. Although the Pirates will base out of the Wing-T, an early move to more spread out formations probably wouldn’t hurt them in the long-run.
The Bulldogs will mainly pull out of a Wing-T approach similar to the Pirates’ own offense. The outside rush coming from Trenten Warren and Eli Woodward has been pretty effective against region opponents, but with stout linebacker corp of the Pirates, they’ll have a pretty tough time making paydirt. They have been known to break down the middle with some success, so that could be where they get yardage throughout the night. If they have athletic wide receivers on the outside, they may be able to pull off some play-action, but a pure pass will be hard to come by in the Pirates No-Fly Zone.
BOLD PREDICTION: SOUTH PITTSBURG, 56-7
Players to Watch
South Pittsburg: Hogan Holland (Senior Quarterback), Kyree Pryor (Senior Halfback/Defensive Back), Drew Daniels (Senior Offensive Lineman/Defensive End), Mitch Butner (Senior Linebacker/Tight End), and Cade Kennemore (Junior Wide Receiver/Defensive Back)
Cornersville: Kolbe McMahon (Junior Wide Reciever), Trenten Warren (Sophomore Halfback), Eli Woodward (Sophomore Halfback), Peyton Finch (Sophomore Fullback), Blake Pickett (Sophomore Cornerback), Brice Dunkleman (Senior Guard), and Payton Cooper (Sophomore Quarterback)