The first true week of region tends to create some separation between teams vying for region titles and other playoff spots.
Some teams put together strong efforts in their region openers to either make their case for a region title or at least a good playoff seeding, while others that fall in an early hole may have a tough time making the top four in their respective leagues.
As usual, let’s take our weekly Saturday look at some trends that came out of Week 3 games:
Who’s the challenger?: When Station Camp knocked off Hillsboro last week, Region 5-5A turned into a battle royale to see which team might get to challenge Mt. Juliet for that region title. The Bison have laid claim to that territory themselves after winning at White County on Friday, but so too has Green Hill. The Hawks collected their first-ever region win at Wilson Central and moved into a tie for second with the Golden Bears behind the Bison, who have a 2-0 region mark so far.
It’s still Mt. Juliet’s region to win but remember the dates with Mt. Juliet at Station Camp (Sept. 30), Station Camp at Green Hill (Oct. 22), and Green Hill at Mt. Juliet (Oct. 29). It appears those three games will determine the Region 5-5A title and possibly three of the four playoff spots from that region.
Pope John Paul II a frontrunner: With Brentwood Academy and MBA both falling on Friday, Pope Prep’s win over Father Ryan in the annual Bishop’s Cup rivalry puts the Knights squarely in the driver’s seat as the Middle Tennessee frontrunner in Division II-Class AAA after three weeks. It’s a spot that program isn’t used to being in, but one they can take advantage of. The Knights travel to MBA on Oct. 1, but don’t play Brentwood Academy in the regular season this year.
But don’t forget about Ensworth: It wasn’t just that Ensworth knocked off second-ranked Christian Brothers, it’s the manner in which they did so – forcefully. The Tigers headed back to Nashville after a 45-19 win on the road after Levi Moore threw for 222 yards and three scores, with Jacob Page catching two of those. Mark Smith had 120 yards on the ground for the Tigers, who would like to make their case as the best Division II-AAA team in Middle Tennessee.
Lopsided wins, but some close games, too: One by-product of region play is the number of blowouts that tend to surface. Week 3 was no different. Of the 48 games involving teams in our coverage area, 22 of them had point margins of 21 points or more. On the flip side, 15 of the 48 area games featured margins of victory of eight points or fewer.
Teams that needed bouncebacks: Greenbrier, Nolensville, Smith County, Watertown and Independence were among teams coming off 0-2 starts that desperately needed wins in their respective region openers and made them happen. The Bobcats blasted Glencliff 53-0 to earn its first win, while the Knights took out some frustration on Lincoln County with a 53-6 victory. The Owls rolled up 56 points in a 40-point blowout of Maplewood. The Eagles blanked Centennial 35-0, an ironic result considering the Cougars entered the game having not allowed a point in their previous two outings. Of this group, only Watertown had a remotely close game, as the Purple Tigers held off Westmoreland 6-0 on Friday.
Summit’s thievery: Summit forced six Brentwood turnovers in sending the Bruins to an 0-3 start. Two Spartans were responsible for all six takeaways: Keaten Wade (three fumble recoveries) and Brady Pierce (three interceptions). Both players also factored in on offense, too: Wade had 62 yards rushing and a touchdown, while Pierce added 32 rushing yards of his own. Destin Wade had 142 rushing yards on 18 carries with three touchdowns.