Preseason Prep: Sleeper Candidates

The Middle Tennessee area has several teams that might fall under the “sleepers” category. For this exercise, we’re highlighting teams that can make a case for a deep run, but a couple of things need to go right in order to truly be a title contender.

This is the second of three such groups that will come this week, with Noisemakers coming Wednesday, Aug. 18.

ALSO READ: Potential Title Contenders

Gordonsville – With several returning starters on both sides of the ball, experience will go a long way for the Tigers, who hope to clear the South Pittsburg hurdle that’s tripped them up each of the last two years in the playoffs.

Watertown – The Purple Tigers’ situation mirrors that of Gordonsville, except their hurdle is Trousdale County. It’s a hurdle they’ve cleared in the regular season yet tripped up on in the postseason.

Fairview – A Chris Hughes-coached team will be in the mix, but replacing Riley Bennett and Logan Nardozzi isn’t easy.

Anthony Brown’s first year as Hillsboro head coach comes with a lot of changes around the program. (Chris Brooks/615 Preps)

Hillsboro – A lot of new things at Hillsboro – new head coach, new stadium and facilities and a new region to boot. What won’t be new is their place in the playoffs, but they could make a run if things go their way.

Springfield – Yes, the Yellow Jackets moved up to Class 5A, but that move might spur Dustin Wilson’s team to a good year. They’ll play up to the competition Henry County and Northeast will provide.

Northeast – And the Eagles certainly remember their losses to Henry County last year. They’ll need to close the gap a bit, but doing so puts them in a good position to make a run.

Riverdale – Oakland’s in the way, but there’s no reason the Warriors can’t at least be playing in the quarterfinals.

The usually run-heavy Beech offense could have a potent aerial element in 2021 with Andrew Paige (5) and Jackson Long catching passes for the Buccaneers this year. (Chris Brooks/615 Preps)

Beech – The Buccaneers are a pretty good pick to be in the 6A semifinals. Getting beyond that, however, will mean knocking off a very good team in the process.  But don’t discount them, as the pass-catching duo of Andrew Paige and Jackson Long will be problems for defenses.

MTCS – The Cougars made some strides last year, and although they have a new head coach, they could build off that positive momentum this year. Aden Hooper could be a Mr. Football candidate.

Friendship Christian – It was a bit of an unlucky year for the Commanders in 2020 and they find themselves without a target on their backs. Like a lot of teams in Division II-Class A, they ask themselves, “why not us?”

Davidson Academy – It will be a challenge for the Bears to contend with Lipscomb Academy and CPA, but they seem to rise up to challenges under Jonathan Quinn, so they won’t be in hibernation.

Pope John Paul II – Kenny Minchey has weapons on the outside to make the Knights’ offense go. The defense will be key to taking the next step.

Brentwood Academy – A number of key pieces to replace, but the Eagles reload instead of rebuild.

Follow Chris Brooks @Brooks_615 on Twitter and on Instagram @cbrooks615.

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