The 2021 high school football season will bring with it new region alignments for Tennessee teams.
Although the changes are only for two years, they represent a shift in the landscape for the Volunteer State and could generate some interesting results.
As far as Middle Tennessee goes, there’s plenty of movement to discuss, both good and bad.
So, what changes have been made?
Let’s take a look, region-by region:
Region 4 – Clay County, Gordonsville, Jo Byrns, Pickett County, Red Boiling Springs
Changes: Monterey (out)
The only change in Region 4 is Monterey’s departure. One team will certainly benefit – whichever side wins the Pickett County-Red Boiling Springs contest on Oct. 29 will likely stay out of the region basement and be playoff-bound. It’s also now Gordonsville’s region to lose.
Region 5 – Collinwood, Cornersville, Eagleville, Fayetteville, Huntland, Moore County, Wayne County
Changes: Mt. Pleasant, Richland (out); Collinwood, Eagleville, Wayne County (in)
A big shuffle sees Eagleville drop from 2A to 1A and it could push the Eagles into region contender territory. On the flip side, they trade 2A runner-up Cornersville for 1A champion Fayetteville, not necessarily an easier road.
Region 4 – East Robertson, Harpeth, Trousdale County, Watertown, Westmoreland, Whites Creek
Changes: Cascade, Jackson County (out); Harpeth, Whites Creek (in)
What was a fairly geographically tight region spreads out a bit with the addition of Harpeth and Whites Creek to the four holdovers from the previous alignment. What the two newcomers are going to find out is that the changes don’t play so well in their favor. Everybody’s chasing Trousdale County and Watertown.
Region 5 – Cascade, Forrest, Loretto, Mt. Pleasant, Richland, Summertown
Changes: Community, Eagleville, Lewis County (out); Cascade, Mt. Pleasant, Richland (in)
Eagleville and Mt. Pleasant virtually swapped spots, with the latter moving up from 1A to 2A. Eagleville might have gotten the better end of the deal.
Region 4 – Cannon County, Community, Giles County, Grundy County, Sequatchie County
Changes: York Institute, Grundy County, Upperman (out); Community, Giles County (in)
Cannon County’s road to the playoffs gets a little easier in that they only have to finish better than one team with this region setup. They just have the problem of a 12-game losing streak staring back at them. Upperman’s departure benefits everyone, but Giles County could take over as the team to beat here.
Region 5 – East Nashville, Jackson County, Maplewood, Smith County, Stratford
Changes: Giles County, Pearl-Cohn, Whites Creek (out); Jackson County, Maplewood, Smith County (in)
It’s Metro vs. Upper Cumberland in Region 5-3A, as Jackson County and Smith County will have to hit I-40 for away region games in Nashville. Maplewood drops from 4A to 3A, a move that should benefit the Panthers. Jackson County chose to move up from 2A to 3A and this is the region they got as a result. They might kick themselves for it in the end, as the other four teams will likely make the postseason.
Region 6 – Cheatham County, Fairview, Stewart County, Sycamore, Waverly, White House, White House Heritage
Changes: Camden, Harpeth (out); Waverly, White House, White House Heritage (in)
A big shakeup in Region 6 sees both White House schools drop from 4A to 3A, making them immediate contenders in this region. They’ll have to deal with the likes of Fairview and Stewart County, but those should make for some fun games, especially from a uniform standpoint when Fairview plays White House (check out our photos from the Sept. 26, 2020 game between Fairview and Lebanon and you’ll get an idea). Sycamore and Cheatham County didn’t need to see those former 4A teams drop into their region.
Region 4 – Cumberland County, DeKalb County, Livingston Academy, Macon County, Stone Memorial, Upperman
Changes: Formerly Region 3, now Region 4 with the addition of Upperman.
Upperman moves up from 3A and slots into an immediate region contender role. Just beating Cumberland County is no longer enough for playoff admission in this region. It will require another win somewhere.
Region 5 – Creek Wood, Glencliff, Greenbrier, Hillwood, Lawrence County, Marshall County, Montgomery Central, Pearl-Cohn, Tullahoma
Changes: Creek Wood and Montgomery Central stay put, while seven new foes join them in a vast region that spans from Greenbrier to Lawrenceburg and Cunningham (Montgomery Central) to Tullahoma.
It must have been late at night when this region was put together, as somebody probably said “we’ll finish it in the morning” and then never got around to it. Lawrence County, Marshall County and Tullahoma are all closer to the Alabama border than any of the other six region opponents.
Nine teams will vie for four playoff spots. Pearl-Cohn’s move from 3A to 4A could very well pay dividends as their region competition ramps up.
A pretty good team is going to be left out, so from a competition standpoint, it’s actually a pretty nice region. But that driving distance, woof. Good thing this is just for two years, so each team only has to visit the others once. Fingers crossed that this type of grouping doesn’t happen again in 2023. Tennessee desperately needs to drop to five Division I classes in the next classification cycle. Good news is it will be on the table.
Region 5 – Green Hill, Hillsboro, Hunters Lane, Mt. Juliet, Station Camp, White County, Wilson Central
Changes: Brand-new region.
One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just isn’t the same. Yep, that’s White County we’re talking about, closer to the Eastern time zone and Chattanooga than anybody in this region. Green Hill gets to go after its first playoff spot with some healthy, built-in county rivalries as Mt. Juliet and Wilson Central join them. Hillsboro will likely battle for the region crown with the Golden Bears.
Region 6 – Columbia, Franklin County, Lincoln County, Nolensville, Page, Spring Hill
Changes: The old Region 5 is now Region 6, with Summit and Shelbyville out and Nolensville and Spring Hill in.
Summit and Shelbyville move to 6A – good for the rest of the region. Nolensville moves up from 4A – not so good for the rest of the region. Still a competitive grouping, though.
Region 7 – Henry County, Kenwood, Northeast, Northwest, Portland, Springfield
Changes: Clarksville, Dyer County, West Creek (out); Portland, Springfield (in).
Springfield’s games against Henry County and Northeast should be very interesting, while the fourth playoff spot could be a wild race.
Region 3 – Coffee County, Cookeville, Lebanon, Shelbyville, Warren County
Changes: Blackman, Oakland, Riverdale, Siegel (out); Lebanon, Shelbyville (in)
This could be a fascinating region simply because a team that would likely finish top-two in several other regions is going to finish last here and not make the playoffs. The geography is still fairly spread out, though, and Lebanon was probably put here to keep this from being a four-team region. The Blue Devils really should be in Region 5.
Region 4 – Blackman, Oakland, Riverdale, Rockvale, Siegel, Stewarts Creek
Changes: Most of the old Region 3 moves to Region 4 with the addition of Stewarts Creek.
Stewarts Creek joins an all-Rutherford County region full of rivalries and they’re all chasing the defending 6A champs from Oakland. Still, it’s a good thing locally that these teams are in the same region.
Region 5 – Beech, Clarksville, Gallatin, Hendersonville, Rossview, West Creek
Changes: An all-new region that plucked two teams from three different regions.
What this region did is pit Sumner County against Montgomery County with three squads from each locale. Beech and Hendersonville should have the edge here. Five of the six teams moved up from 5A to 6A, with Hendersonville the lone holdover.
Region 6 – Antioch, Cane Ridge, Dickson County, La Vergne, McGavock, Overton, Smyrna
Changes: The old Region 5 swaps Dickson County in for Stewarts Creek.
Dickson County finds itself in a good situation, leaving the Williamson County juggernauts for this new region with Smyrna, La Vergne and four Metro teams. The Cougars will contend for a playoff spot immediately, given the recent struggles of Overton, McGavock and Antioch. It’s a great playoff situation for teams in Regions 5 and 6, as somebody’s going to be in the 6A semifinals the next two years.
Region 7 – Brentwood, Centennial, Franklin, Independence, Ravenwood, Summit
Changes: Dickson County (out); Summit (in)
And then, there’s the hornet’s nest. Region 6 turns into Region 7, but it’s not a lucky number for somebody as 5A champ Summit joins this table. The Spartans bring aces and look to be state contenders immediately, while Brentwood, Franklin, Ravenwood and Independence don’t plan on folding anytime soon. Centennial looks to be improved, too. You can’t bluff your way into a playoff spot in this region, and somebody with high hopes will be sitting at home in November, completely out of luck. They’ll also have to contend with the Memphis teams in the playoffs, who will be itching to get back after missing out on the 2020 season.
Division II-Class A
East Region – Friendship Christian, Grace Baptist Academy, Lakeway Christian Academy, Middle Tennessee Christian, The King’s Academy, Webb School
Changes: Lakeway Christian, Webb School (in), Donelson Christian Academy, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy, Grace Christian-Franklin (out)
Big changes in Division II-Class A as each region sees the number of teams trimmed a bit with the addition of the Middle Region. East Region teams will still have to do some traveling, as half of the field resides in Middle Tennessee.
Middle Region – Clarksville Academy, Columbia Academy, Donelson Christian Academy, Grace Christian-Franklin, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy, Nashville Christian
Changes: All-new region
Some teams came from the West, others from the East to create a brand-new Middle Region. DCA and Nashville Christian could create an instant rivalry in this setting. The new West Region features all teams from Jackson to Memphis and doesn’t include any Nashville-area teams.
Division II-Class AA
Middle Region – Battle Ground Academy, Christ Presbyterian Academy, Davidson Academy, Franklin Road Academy, Goodpasture, Lipscomb Academy
Changes: Davidson Academy (in)
As if this region needed anymore firepower. One thing is for certain: one of the two defending state champions in this region will not repeat in 2021 as three-time defending Class A champ Davidson Academy steps up to Class AA this year. The Bears will contend with the likes of Class AA champ CPA and runner-up Lipscomb Academy – who won the region in 2020. One other change with the Bears’ addition is now that there’s six teams in the region, the last-place team will not make the playoffs. Prior to the changes, all five region teams advanced.
Division II-Class AAA
East Region – Baylor, Father Ryan, Knoxville Catholic, McCallie, Montgomery Bell Academy, Pope John Paul II
Changes: Montgomery Bell Academy, Pope John Paul II (in); Brentwood Academy, Ensworth (out)
Geographically speaking, it did not make sense for Ensworth to be in the East Region and Pope John Paul II to be in the West Region. That gets fixed this year. Brentwood Academy and MBA also swap regions, ensuring that their rivalry game will remain a non-region contest. It does return the JPII-Father Ryan Bishop’s Cup rivalry into the same region, however.
West Region – Brentwood Academy, Briarcest Christian, Christian Brothers, Ensworth, Memphis University School, St. Benedict
Changes: Brentwood Academy, Ensworth (in); Montgomery Bell Academy, Pope John Paul II (out)
Brentwood Academy heads west along with Ensworth to take on the four Memphis-area teams in this region. The Eagles should return as likely favorites in the realigned region.
Follow Chris Brooks on Twitter @Brooks_615 and on Instagram @cbrooks615.