Griffin Swinea. That’s it. That’s the note.
Okay, maybe a little more. Swinea had quite a performance from the opening snap, scoring on the first play and ending up with 285 yards and four touchdowns. His offensive line certainly deserves a lot of credit, as they won a lot of matchups up front. Four of those five starters return next season, too.
A.J. Quinn made his impact on the defensive side with six tackles (2.5 for a loss), a sack, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Most of the Bears’ starters return next year, as only four offensive starters and three defensive starters are set to graduate.
If CPA fans feel like they were hosed, they have a legitimate argument. Officials missed what was shown on replay to be an incomplete pass on fourth down that led to the go-ahead score for ECS. If replay gets instituted in this state, that play will be a catalyst for it happening.
Otherwise, the Lions provided more fuel for the argument that if you schedule tough non-region teams, it will pay off down the line. They did enough to put themselves in that position.
Would they have won it had the correct call been made? That’s debatable. There were still six minutes remaining and CPA would still have had to get out of its own end. The teams had combined for six turnovers. It wasn’t a clean game by any means in those regards. But having the lead with six minutes left as opposed to trailing is still a preferable position to be in, and that was taken away by poor judgement. We’ll never really know.
What we do know is that CPA improved tremendously from its Week 1 loss to ECS and was deserving of its place in Cookeville, and the Lions’ overall record shouldn’t be the judge of how good this team really was. They were better than their final record will show.
MBA’s defense got it to Cookeville, but its offense simply couldn’t provide the help it needed against McCallie.
That’s not necessarily a knock on the Big Red going forward, because the extra games provided more game experience for freshman quarterback Marcel Reed. He’s going to be a problem for defenses the next three years. MBA will have to replace roughly half of its starters (five seniors on offense, six on defense) next season.
However, an ill-advised pass resulted in an interception returned for a touchdown in the first quarter and MBA was forced to play catch-up from there. Reed’s connection with Jack McKennon tied the game and it appeared that the Big Red were in for a dogfight.
But the back-breaking drive came in the third quarter, when McCallie converted three third-down chances and held the ball for 13 plays, going 80 yards in 5:39 to take a 21-7 lead. At that point, the Big Red were fighting too much of an uphill battle.
McCallie’s defensive front did the job as well, setting a new BlueCross Bowl championship game record with nine sacks.
So much was made of Pearl-Cohn’s quest for a perfect season, that you hate to see it end like that in Cookeville.
But Alcoa won the game up front and made life difficult for Martino Owens and the Firebird backs. Owens was sacked three times and Pearl-Cohn ball carriers were tackled for a loss 13 times in the contest.
Pearl-Cohn’s defense had no answers for the Tornadoes’ rushing attack, either as Alcoa rolled up 309 yards on the ground.
The Firebirds did shut out Alcoa in the second half, holding the Tornadoes to 53 total yards in the final 24 minutes.
It’s still a great season for Pearl-Cohn, but Metro Nashville will have to wait another year for a gold ball. The Firebirds may represent that best chance again next season, as only three starters on each side of the ball are seniors.
Getting outside was a challenge for Summit’s offense as Knoxville Central held the Spartans to 3.5 yards per carry. Four turnovers also doomed Summit in the loss.
The Spartans took a wild road to Cookeville – sometimes getting stopped in traffic along the way – and that postseason run isn’t lessened by a runner-up finish. With Destin and Keaten Wade both sophomores, they’re going to get better and with that, so are the Spartans.
It’ll be interesting to see Summit next season to see if they can take that final step toward a state title. Class 5A could be loaded again.
Let’s call it an accelerated rebuild. Springfield was thought to be taking a step back with graduations last season.
However, the way things came together during a seven-game winning streak to reach Cookeville showed that the Yellow Jackets could be a contender for the next year or two as well.
Springfield does lose starting tailback Kevontay White and receiver Jeremy Jones to graduation, but the five starters across the offensive line all return next year.
Elizabethton’s defense shut the Yellow Jackets down in the first half, while the Cyclones rolled up 234 rushing yards in the contest.
Springfield only had the ball for 14:11 as the Yellow Jackets only had three possessions that lasted more than two minutes.
A recurring theme during the championships was an inability from Middle Tennessee teams to run the football, while giving up a lot of ground yardage on defense. The same held true for Ravenwood, outgained 201-42 on the ground in its’ Class 6A loss to Maryville.
Three turnovers led to 21 Maryville points as the Raptors had no answers for Tee Hodge or Cade Chambers in the Maryville backfield.
Ravenwood loses 16 starters from Saturday night’s game to graduation – nine on offense – so the Raptors will look very different next season.
With several collegiate prospects moving on to the next level, there will be questions on how quickly the Raptors will be able to reload.
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