The first week of the season usually generates some surprises and is arguably the hardest week to predict of the high school football season.
New faces in new places, players growing into bigger roles and graduation hit some teams harder than others.
But some big-time players made some big-time plays in Week 1, too.
Six things that stood out on the opening Friday (and Thursday) of the season:
Pearl-Cohn’s ground game makes noise: No Barion Brown, no problem for Pearl-Cohn. Sidelined Thursday due to a suspension stemming from his ejection in last season’s semifinal loss at Milan, Brown was reduced to cheerleader status. But his Firebird teammates rolled on anyway, taking down Cane Ridge 38-19. The biggest contribution came from sophomore Malachi Cromwell, who racked up 217 yards and three touchdowns in his first-ever varsity action.
Get your 50-burgers here: Eight area teams scored 50 or more points on Friday. Cheatham County, Kenwood, Lebanon, Lipscomb Academy, MBA, Mt. Juliet Christian, Northeast and Summit all surpassed the half-century mark in their Week 1 victories. Lipscomb Academy scored 76 against Greater Atlanta Christian, the most since they routed now-defunct Joelton 70-6 in 1970.
First-half blitz: Speaking of the Mustangs, those 76 points were largely accumulated by halftime as Lipscomb Academy piled up 62 in the first 24 minutes. Their defense did more than its fair share, as Kaleb Beasley returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns, and Adam Walker added a pick-six of his own. The Mustangs only had six third-down plays in the game.
Debut victories: The area saw its fair share of coaching changes in 2021, as 18 area teams saw new head coaches take over this season. Chandler Tygard (Blackman), Scott Murray (Clarksville Academy), Greg Cotten (Goodpasture), Erik Davis (Maplewood) and Wes Inman (Portland) all won their debut games at their respective schools. Smith County could add Matt Dyer’s name to that list if the Owls win at Gordonsville on Saturday.
Destin Wade from downtown: Henry County had no answer for Summit quarterback Destin Wade on Friday. Destin Wade ran for 265 yards on just six carries, finding the end zone four times (from 2, 75, 80 and 98 yards). The Spartans rushed for 403 yards as a team and Wade only needed to throw five passes, one of which he found favorite target Brady Pierce for a touchdown.
Walk-off: Inman’s first victory at Portland came in style as junior Nik Averitt made a 35-yard field goal as time expired to give the Panthers a 31-28 victory over visiting Westmoreland. The Eagles had erased a 28-14 deficit to tie the game with less than four minutes to play in regulation before Averitt’s kick sent the home crowd at Edgar Johnson Stadium home happy.