The 2021 season officially begins in just 66 days and our Spotlight Game series returns for its second season to take you all the way to the BlueCross Bowl.
615 Preps will feature some of the best teams and players from around the area, both large and small schools, in our headline games this season.
We choose these games ahead of time knowing full well – especially after 2020 – that they could change depending on circumstances. However, it gives us a chance to recognize some of the top programs from around the area just the same.
How the Spotlight schedule works
- Teams may only appear in a Spotlight Game once through Week 8 of the regular season, but there is no maximum after that.
- Only games between two coverage area teams are considered through Week 8 and we try to maintain that goal as far into the playoffs as possible, though exceptions can be made after Week 8.
- For the first time, Thursday games can be Spotlight games, and we have two such contests this season. (More on those in a minute.) If a Thursday game gets selected, a Friday game will also be chosen that week, making it a “Spotlight Doubleheader” of sorts.
- Weeks 9-11 will be determined later, with Week 11 locked in the day following Week 10 games. That game will be a game that has guaranteed playoff implications, whether it’s for a region title or a “win-and-in” situation.
A little bit about the first eight weeks of Spotlight Games chosen to start the season:
Thursday, August 19 – Pearl-Cohn at Cane Ridge
It’s the only game in town on August 19, one between two Metro Nashville powers who both fell short of their goals in 2020, but would like nothing more than to kick off 2020 with a strong showing. It shapes up to be a fun, fast-paced game from both sides.
Friday, August 20 – DCA at MTCS
These two Division II-Class A foes didn’t get to face each other last season due to COVID, and that’s a shame, because it’s a great quarterback matchup between MTCS senior Aden Hooper and DCA senior Bradford Gaines. Though it’s not a region matchup anymore, it has the makings of a shootout in Murfreesboro.
Friday, August 27 – Springfield at Clarksville
Another game erased by the pandemic last season; these two traditional opponents have met 96 times in their history. Both teams have moved up in classification for 2021, but it will be a good challenge for each side on the second Friday of the season.
Friday, September 3 – Smyrna at Hillsboro
The Burros have been nomads the past three seasons, not playing a real home game while their new stadium was being built. It should be on track to finish before their home opener against Smyrna gets this Spotlight slot. The Bulldogs would love to play spoiler in new Hillsboro head coach Anthony Brown’s home debut, but this game will also be a good time for getting critical reps for some of their younger starters before region play begins the next week.
Friday, September 10 – Eagleville at Gordonsville
The smaller schools get some love in Week 4 with Eagleville – dropping to 1A this season – traveling to Gordonsville to face a Tiger squad that reached the 1A quarterfinals last season. Don’t let the classification fool you, there’s a good QB matchup here as Eagle senior Marcus Collins squares off with Gordonsville junior Matthew Albritton.
Friday, September 17 – Ravenwood at Brentwood
Speaking of quarterbacks, these two Williamson County rivals have them when the Battle of the Woods renews for the 23rd time. Ravenwood’s Chris Parson and Brentwood’s Davis White will duke it out in this Spotlight Game as not only will both teams have new signal-callers, but they’ll also have new head coaches when the Bruins’ Clint Finch goes up against Ravenwood’s Will Hester (albeit in Hester’s second stint with the Raptors).
Friday, September 24 – Beech at Summit
A rematch of one of the most exciting Class 5A playoff games last season now sees both teams move up to 6A for 2021. The Buccaneers’ ground attack might have more of an air element this year, while Destin and Keaten Wade would like nothing more than to cap their high school careers with another ring in a higher class.
Friday, October 1 – Lipscomb Academy at Davidson Academy
The only local team that played in the BlueCross Bowl that brought home silver in 2020 visits a reigning three-time champion that now steps up to Division II-Class AA. Trent Dilfer’s Lipscomb Academy squad looks poised to make another run to state, while Jonathan Quinn’s Bears face a bigger challenge in 2021. Can Luther Richesson avoid the pressure from Davidson Academy senior defensive standout Kendyle Ball, and can the Bears slow down Mustang sparkplug Alex Broome?
Thursday, October 7 – CPA at Oakland
CPA faces two other 2020 state champions on its schedule. This is the first of those games, a Thursday night clash at 6A champ Oakland. Cade Law, Langston Patterson and the Lions will have to bring their A-game as the Patriots’ lethal trio of Jordan James, Isaiah Horton and Antonio Patterson would like nothing more than to make a statement in this Spotlight collision of champions.
Friday, October 8 – Mt. Juliet at Lebanon
Our Helmet Madness winner gets an automatic home game on this list each season, and in 2021 it’s Lebanon who won out. And there’s no better way to put them in the spotlight than against their Wilson County rivals from Mt. Juliet (who by the way won the inaugural Helmet Madness tournament in 2020).
Week 9 spotlight TBD
We’ll have this game chosen later in the season, but there are several games to keep an eye on for this spot, including Riverdale at Oakland, Gallatin at Beech and Greenbrier at Pearl-Cohn among others.
Week 10 spotlight TBD
Some games to watch in the next-to-last week of the regular season are Hillsboro at Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville at Rossview, Beech at Brentwood, Page at Independence, Pope John Paul II at Ravenwood, CPA at Lipscomb Academy, and Ensworth at Brentwood Academy.
Week 11 spotlight TBD
As mentioned before, the final regular season Spotlight matchup will be a region title game or one where somebody must win to get in the playoffs. There’s no shortage of options, but some notable games in Week 11 include Watertown at Trousdale County, Smith County at East Nashville, Clarksville at Gallatin, Green Hill at Mt. Juliet, Beech at Rossview, White House Heritage at White House, Summit at Franklin, Independence at Ravenwood, Friendship Christian at MTCS, CPA at Davidson Academy and FRA at Goodpasture.
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Follow Chris Brooks on Twitter @Brooks_615.