With the playoff matchups now set, here’s a few things I’m thinking about as we turn the calendar to November:
Who’s escaping 5A?: The real blender of playoff brackets belongs to Class 5A, which has been considered wide-open on the western side most of the year. A pair of 9-1 teams, Page and Green Hill, have No. 1 seeds, as does 8-2 Springfield, and those three might be the favorites to reach Chattanooga.
Green Hill, in just its second year of existence and first year of playoff eligibility, has home-field advantage through the semifinals. Springfield won’t have to travel until the semifinals, a good thing considering Region 7 matches up with Memphis-area schools in the early rounds. But several teams can make a case for moving on, and they’re not so far apart that any of them could heat up as the temperature drops.
Tough draws in 2A: Trousdale County and Watertown weren’t going to escape Meigs County and Marion County very long anyway this year due to reclassification moving them into crossover regions in the early rounds. For the last three years, the Yellow Jackets and Purple Tigers met in the quarterfinals with Trousdale County prevailing every time. To do so again, they’ll both need to knock off state contenders on the second weekend.
Up-close scouting at home: Lipscomb Academy has a first-round bye, but they’ll have a good reason to be at their stadium on Friday. Lipscomb Academy will host a neutral-site playoff game between Silverdale and Northpoint Christian, as both teams finished third in the East and West regions, respectively. Perhaps they should offer to put the winning team in a hotel for the week – the prevailing team will have to come right back to Lipscomb Academy on Nov. 12 to face the Mustangs.
BA, MBA earn first-round byes: Both Brentwood Academy and MBA will have one less game needed to reach Chattanooga this year, as both teams earned No. 2 seeds in their respective regions in Division II-Class AAA by winning on Friday. The Eagles draw the St. Benedict-Pope Prep winner in the quarterfinals, while MBA hosts either Baylor or Ensworth on Nov. 12.
Sweep potential: One interesting point every year is whether any regions will sweep their opposite side in the first round. One to keep an eye on is Region 7-6A potentially against Region 8. Memphis-area schools did not play last year and are in catch-up mode on the field from a rep standpoint. By just looking at overall records, most might say there’s no way. But Independence has played a difficult non-region schedule and should be considered a threat to unbeaten Collierville. If the Eagles do pull that upset, Region 7 may completely prevail.
Matchups to watch: The first round doesn’t always produce good matchups. But there are some on paper that are at least intriguing in the opening weekend of the playoffs. Whitehaven at Ravenwood, Gallatin at Smyrna, Stewarts Creek at Lebanon, White House Heritage at East Nashville and Tyner at Trousdale County are some that stand out for the first Friday of November.