2021 Preseason Prep: One key game for every team

All 90 teams in the area have at least one key game they must win to either achieve or be a lot closer to achieving certain goals for 2021 – be it an undefeated season, a playoff spot or somewhere in-between.

And we’re putting them here in one place for all 90 of our area teams.

These are not necessarily the “best games” on each team’s schedule. They’re games that could change the course of a team’s season with a win or a loss.

A

Antioch: Oct. 8 vs. McGavock. Last home game, critical region rivalry, they’ll need it if they want a top-four finish. It’s all there.

B

Beech: Sept. 3 at Hendersonville. Huge rivalry serves as the region opener. Could very well be the Region 5-6A championship game before the weather cools off.

Battle Ground Academy: Oct. 1 vs. Goodpasture. BGA’s path to a top-four seed includes winning against the Cougars.

Blackman: Sept. 3 vs. Riverdale. The Blaze have big aspirations for 2021 despite a boatload of changes. This game will give us an idea of how far they can go as they face a stellar defense.

Brentwood: Sept. 3 vs. Summit. Normally, this would say Ravenwood. But Region 7-6A could very well beat up on each other this year, and you want to throw the first punch instead of taking it.

Brentwood Academy: Sept. 3 at Briarcrest Christian. The Eagles have some key pieces to replace, and their region opener is one they simply cannot afford to lose if they want to host playoff games.

Jamir Eaton’s game-sealing interception gave Smyrna a key victory over Cane Ridge last season. The two teams tangle on Oct. 1 with a potential Region 6-6A title hanging in the balance. (Kevin Smith/615 Preps)

C

Cane Ridge: Oct. 1 vs. Smyrna. It’ll be Senior Night for the Ravens and a likely region title hangs in the balance when the Bulldogs visit. Cane Ridge remembers how last year’s game ended.

Cannon County: Sept. 17 vs. Lookout Valley. The Lions enter 2021 on a 12-game losing streak and didn’t score until their fourth game last season. Game five this year might be their best shot at stopping the skid.

Centennial: Sept. 3 vs. Independence. The Cougars want to return to the postseason, and they’ll need at least two region wins to do it. If they win the first one, they’ll have four more shots to get it done.

Cheatham County: Aug. 19 vs. Glencliff. The Cubs have lost 10 consecutive games and haven’t won their opener since 2018. They have the right game to reverse both trends in 2021.

Clarksville: Sept. 3 vs. Rossview. The Wildcats would like to contend for a region title against Beech and Hendersonville, but that will be hard to do if they don’t take down the Hawks first.

Clarksville Academy: Oct. 22 vs. Columbia Academy. The Cougars close their schedule with four consecutive region games, but none bigger than this one if they hope to be a playoff team this year.

Columbia: Sept. 17 vs. Nolensville. The Lions’ path to a potential region title means taking down the newcomer in 6-5A, one that has very high expectations in 2021.

Columbia Academy: Oct. 1 at Mt. Juliet Christian. The two games the Bulldogs need to win for a top-four spot are on the road, but they can’t win both if they don’t win the first of them.

Christ Presbyterian Academy: Oct. 22 at Lipscomb Academy. No further explanation needed.

Creek Wood: Oct. 8 at Greenbrier. There are going to be several swing games in a nine-team region. This key game may end up deciding a lot of things in Region 5-4A.

D

Davidson Academy: Oct. 15 at Goodpasture. The Bears’ new region features several challenges, with this one being a neighborhood tussle that’ll help decide playoff seeding.

Donelson Christian Academy: Oct. 29 vs. Nashville Christian. Pretty decent chance this is a region championship game in Week 11.

DeKalb County: Oct. 15 vs. Upperman. The Bees are the region newbies, but they’re also a popular pick as favorites in 4-4A.

Dickson County: Oct. 29 vs. Antioch. Although the Cougars enter 2021 with a 15-game losing streak, realignment was great for them. They’ll challenge for their first playoff appearance since 2012, and if they haven’t already locked up a postseason spot by now, Week 11 should do it.

E

Eagleville: Sept. 3 vs. Moore County. The Eagles’ move to 1A puts them in a new region where all six of their opponents were playoff teams in 2020, including defending champion Fayetteville. It would be a good start if they can take that region opener.

East Nashville: Sept. 3 vs. Stratford. Definition of a key game. Pretty likely that this winner wins Region 5-3A.  

East Robertson: Sept. 3 vs. Trousdale County. The Indians could be a top-three team in Region 4-2A, but if they want to host a playoff game, they’ll need to beat either Trousdale County or Watertown. Picking this once since it’s first, and at home.

Ensworth: Sept. 17 vs. MUS. The Tigers went winless in region play in a disjointed 2020 season, and now that they shift to the West Region, winning their two home region games becomes vital. This one could determine a playoff spot.

Jackson Noble (88) and the Pope John Paul II defense will look to shut down Father Ryan in the annual Bishop’s Cup rivalry game on Sept. 3. (Chris Brooks/615 Preps)

F

Fairview: Sept. 3 vs. Stewart County. Big postseason implications riding on this one.

Father Ryan: Sept. 3 vs. Pope John Paul II. The Bishop’s Cup rivalry always produces good games, and the Irish might need this one the way the East Region shapes up in Division II-Class AAA.

Franklin: Oct. 1 at Centennial. The Admirals have had a tough offseason and their region schedule won’t provide much relief. Franklin must win at Centennial and play spoiler somewhere to return to the postseason.

Franklin Road Academy: Oct. 22 at BGA. FRA needs two region wins to make the playoffs, and their last two games on the schedule seems to be their best chances for them, making the BGA contest an absolute must-win.

Friendship Christian: Sept. 17 vs. The King’s Academy. After an uncharacteristic 2020 season, the Commanders hope to bounce back in 2021 and winning their first region game would be a good way to go about doing it.

G

Gallatin: Oct. 1 vs. Rossview. There’s going to be a fight for playoff spots in Region 5-6A this year, and the Green Wave can go a long way toward securing theirs with a win over the Hawks.

Glencliff: Aug. 27 vs. Whites Creek. The Colts enter 2021 on a 16-game losing streak and they lost by six points to the Cobras last year. Best chance to snap that slide comes in Week 2.

Goodpasture: Oct. 1 at BGA. Goodpasture’s fight for the playoffs really begins with three region games in October after they’ve played Lipscomb Academy and CPA. Meat Loaf sang “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad,” and that’ll be how the Cougars get in the postseason.

Gordonsville: Aug. 27 at Watertown. Monterey’s gone from this region and the Tigers are a clear-cut favorite. So, let’s look at a potential signature victory here and see if they can knock off Watertown in Week 2, as it was a seven-point game in 2020.

Grace Christian (Franklin): Oct. 8 at Clarksville Academy. The Lions won a close one over the Cougars last season and may need to do so again for a better playoff seed.

Green Hill: Sept. 3 at Wilson Central. The Hawks’ first-ever region game comes against a Wilson County rival and it may very well determine a playoff spot in Region 5-5A.

Greenbrier: Oct. 8 vs. Creek Wood. Could be the key game in Region 5-4A. The Bobcats need this one, because their final three games are against Pearl-Cohn, Tullahoma, and Marshall County – all region title contenders in 2021.

H

Harpeth: Oct. 29 vs. Westmoreland. If the Indians defeat Whites Creek, this one could decide whether Harpeth reaches the Class 2A playoffs or not.

Hendersonville: Sept. 3 vs. Beech. Taking down their cross-town rival is a big first step in a potential region title.

Hillsboro: Oct. 22 at Mt. Juliet. The Burros might be playing for a region title in Week 10 if all goes according to plan.

Hillwood: Sept. 24 at Greenbrier. Region 5-4A is loaded with contenders, and five teams won’t make the postseason. To avoid being one of those five, the Hilltoppers need this win.

Hunters Lane: Oct. 8 at Green Hill. Region 5-5A is tough, too, and the Warriors have two winnable home games to close the regular season. But to make the playoffs, they’ll need a region win before then.

I

Independence: Oct. 1 vs. Brentwood. The Eagles not only have to fend off Centennial and Franklin, but they also have to try to tackle three heavyweights in Region 7-6A. The Bruins are the first of those heavyweights.

J

Jo Byrns: Sept. 17 vs. Clay County. The Red Devils’ best shot at securing a home playoff game rests with defeating the Bulldogs. Winning that game will give them a shot at Gordonsville for a region title.

K

Kenwood: Oct. 1 vs. Portland. Classic swing game in Region 7-5A as the winner likely only needs one more region victory to secure a playoff spot.

L

La Vergne: Oct. 1 at Dickson County. For the Wolverines, securing a top-three seed means making sure Dickson County doesn’t spoil the party.

Lebanon: Sept. 3 at Cookeville. Big games really don’t come much earlier than the region opener, and with just five teams in Region 3-6A, winning the first one goes even further toward a good playoff seed.

Lipscomb Academy: Oct. 22 vs. CPA. Again, no further explanation needed.

Mt. Juliet could be looking at a potential Region 5-5A title when Hillsboro visits on Oct. 22. (Kevin Smith/615 Preps)

M

Macon County: Sept. 3 vs. DeKalb County. The winner in this battle of Tigers gets to take their best shot at Upperman for a region title later in the season. The loser’s looking at a road playoff game.

Maplewood: Sept. 3 vs. Smith County. The race for the third spot in Region 5-3A – a five-team region – is Maplewood’s to win if they take their region opener.

Montgomery Bell Academy: Sept. 3 vs. McCallie. If the Big Red want to win the East Region in Division II-Class AAA, taking down the defending champs would be a terrific start.

McGavock: Sept. 17 vs. Dickson County. Plain and simple, any playoff hopes the Raiders have rest in making sure Dickson County doesn’t spoil their plans.

Middle Tennessee Christian: Oct. 1 at The King’s Academy. Winning this game sets the Cougars up for a region title shot.

Montgomery Central: Sept. 24 at Creek Wood. The Indians could be 3-0 in region play entering this game. However, with the second half of their schedule loaded with contenders, they’ll need a win over Creek Wood to better their playoff chances.

Mt. Juliet: Oct. 22 vs. Hillsboro. It’ll be the biggest game in Region 5-5A to this point and could be the region title game.

Mt. Juliet Christian: Sept. 17 at Grace Christian (Franklin). The Saints lost by two to Grace last year and it’s their region opener this time around.

Mt. Pleasant: Sept. 3 vs. Cascade. The Tigers are in a new region, but they have some familiar foes in that region. Cascade, however, is not one of them, and it could decide a playoff spot in Class 2A.

N

Nashville Christian: Oct. 29 at DCA. A region title could be on the line in the regular season finale.

Nolensville: Oct. 8 at Page. This Williamson County showdown could decide Region 6-5A.

Northeast: Sept. 3 vs. Springfield. The Eagles will have to take down Henry County if they want the region, but they’d better take care of the Yellow Jackets first if they want to be in that spot come late October.

Northwest: Sept. 3 vs. Portland. A win over the Panthers gets the Vikings halfway to a playoff spot in Region 7-5A with four more shots to get there.

O

Oakland: Oct. 15 vs. Riverdale. The biggest region threat to Oakland’s current run is still Riverdale.

Overton: Sept. 3 vs. Dickson County. The Bobcats draw a hungry Cougar squad in their region opener and the winner has the inside track toward a playoff spot in Region 6-6A.

P

Page: Oct. 1 vs. Columbia. The Patriots can’t be caught looking at the next week’s battle with Nolensville, or the Lions might trip them up.

Pearl-Cohn: Oct. 8 at Marshall County. It’s a long road trip for the Firebirds, but they could come home with the inside track to a region title.

Pope John Paul II: Sept. 3 vs. Father Ryan. The Knights need to win the Bishop’s Cup rivalry game before they attempt to take on the meat of their schedule.

Portland: Oct. 1 at Kenwood. The Panthers will need two region wins to make the playoffs and if they don’t get this one, things get a lot harder.

R

Ravenwood: Sept. 17 at Brentwood. As tough as Region 7-6A is, there may not be an unbeaten team in region play. The Raptors, however, don’t want a loss to their biggest rival.

Red Boiling Springs: Oct. 29 at Pickett County. The Bulldogs’ lone win last year came over Pickett County. A repeat in 2021 could get them in the playoffs for just the second time ever.

Riverdale: Sept. 3 at Blackman. Oakland’s obviously the biggest game on the schedule, but Blackman presents the greatest threat to a top-two seed for the Warriors.

Rockvale: Sept. 3 at Siegel. The winner of this game will have a chance to steal a playoff spot.

Rossview: Sept. 3 at Clarksville. Knocking off a city rival would ensure the Hawks will play very meaningful games in October.

S

Siegel: Sept. 3 vs. Rockvale. The Stars could surprise some folks this year but doing so in the region starts with disarming the Rockets.

Smith County: Sept. 3 vs. Maplewood. The Owls open region play with Maplewood and in a five-team region, one win goes a long way.

Smyrna: Oct. 1 at Cane Ridge. The Ravens will be out for revenge and this game shapes up as the potential region title matchup.

Spring Hill: Sept. 17 vs. Lincoln County. The Raiders’ road to the playoffs likely needs this game and at least one other region win.

Springfield: Sept. 3 at Northeast. The Yellow Jackets, new to 5A this year, could grab a home playoff game if they knock off the Eagles on the road.

Station Camp: Sept. 3 at White County. The Bison snapped a 24-game losing streak after taking advantage of an allowed 11th game last season. If the Bison hope to play meaningful games in October, they have to win on their longest road trip of the season.

Stewarts Creek: Oct. 15 vs. Siegel. The Stars will be gunning for Stewarts Creek in hopes of securing a playoff spot. The winner should be in.

Stratford: Sept. 3 vs. East Nashville. The Spartans are looking to make noise this year and taking down their biggest region threat should do the trick.

Summit: Sept. 3 at Brentwood. You could mark several games as key games for the Spartans in their region, but the first one could either jumpstart another run or leave them at the starting line.

Sycamore: Sept. 17 at White House Heritage. The War Eagles start a stretch of five region games in six weeks when they visit the Patriots, and a road win would go a long way toward a postseason push.

Trousdale County and Watertown have put on several close games in the past three years, and the 2021 edition figures to be no different when they meet on Oct. 29 with a possible Region 4-2A title at stake. (Drake Williams/615 Preps)

T

Trousdale County: Oct. 29 vs. Watertown. It’s been the biggest game in their region for several years and that doesn’t change in 2021.

W

Watertown: Oct. 29 at Trousdale County. The Purple Tigers have won the regular season meeting (and the region title) each of the last three years before losing a playoff rematch. Does the pattern change in 2021?

West Creek: Sept. 3 vs. Gallatin. The road is tough for the Coyotes in 2021, but it could get a lot more manageable if they knocked off the Green Wave in their region opener.

Westmoreland: Oct. 15 at East Robertson. A win should make the Eagles playoff-bound for the 10th consecutive year. A loss, and that streak will be in jeopardy in Week 11.

White House: Oct. 29 vs. White House Heritage. A city rivalry game could be an elimination game in Week 11. The Blue Devils got in last year under similar circumstances.

White House Heritage: Oct. 29 at White House. It’s a quick trip, but it could be a long night on the final Friday of October if the Patriots need to knock off their cross-town rival to make the playoffs.

Whites Creek: Sept. 3 vs. Harpeth. It’s been a long time (2009) since the Cobras were playoff-bound. Winning against the Indians gives them a fighting chance to end that streak.

Wilson Central: Sept. 24 at Mt. Juliet. The Wildcats have not won a region title in their 20-year existence. A win at Mt. Juliet would set up that opportunity.

Z

Zion Christian: Sept. 10 vs. Mt. Pleasant. The Eagles stepped back from TSSAA membership this season, but they don’t want a team they defeated in 2020 to turn the tide on them this year.

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