Playoff hurdles for remaining teams

With one round of postseason play in the books, the brackets are taking a certain shape and several area teams figure to be in the mix for trips to Chattanooga for the BlueCross Bowl in three weeks’ time.

But what, if anything, really stands in their way? Let’s look at each remaining team in the 615 Preps coverage area and uncover the biggest hurdles they’ll need to clear to keep their seasons going:

Class 1A

Jo Byrns: Gordonsville, second round. The Red Devils’ biggest hurdle is the next one. The Tigers blasted the Red Devils 48-6 on Oct. 1 and Jo Byrns will be hard-pressed to win with anything other than a perfect game on Friday.

Gordonsville: South Pittsburg or Clay County, quarterfinals. South Pittsburg was always going to be the Tigers’ main hurdle this postseason, but Clay County could upend that scenario and aim for a quarterfinal rematch.

Class 2A

Trousdale County: Meigs County, second round. The Yellow Jackets’ usual roadblock from the past three seasons comes earlier in the postseason this year, meaning there won’t be a Thanksgiving practice without a win in this game.

Watertown: Marion County, second round. No rematch with Trousdale County was guaranteed due to the new alignments in Class 2A, bringing potential semifinal opponents two rounds earlier. The Purple Tigers are at home for this one, though, so don’t count them out.

Reese McAfee (2) pairs with Ranen Blackburn to create a powerful White House backfield that has its eyes set on a deep Class 3A playoff run. (Chris Brooks/615 Preps)

Class 3A

Cannon County: Loudon, second round. Much like Jo Byrns, it’ll take a major effort to knock off the Redskins. But there shouldn’t be any pressure on the Lions – they’ve already exceeded nearly everyone’s expectations this season.

East Nashville: Waverly, second round. The road to Chattanooga will not be easy for the Eagles, with hurdles standing in front of them the rest of the way. That’s the way they want it, though – one only needs to look at their non-region schedule this year (Father Ryan, Hillsboro, Independence, Green Hill, Riverdale) to see that the moment has been prepared for.

Smith County: White House, second round. The Owls are ahead of schedule, reaching the second round in Matt Dyer’s first season. Their next opponent has two 1,000-yard rushers that they’ll need to stop, however, to keep going in the postseason.

White House: East Nashville or Waverly, quarterfinals. White House has state dreams and certainly has the path to get there. But the Blue Devils’ potential quarterfinal could be a hungry, talented East Nashville team or a Waverly team seeking vengeance for a Week 4 loss at Nissan Stadium.

Class 4A

Macon County: Red Bank, second round. The Tigers stunned Chattanooga Central with a stirring second-half comeback in the first round. They cannot afford to fall behind again against the Lions.

DeKalb County: Upperman, second round. It was a close game between these two region foes last time around, so can the Tigers make up the gap in round two?

Montgomery Central: Tullahoma, second round. The Indians suffered their first loss at the hands of Tullahoma this season and it wasn’t particularly close. Can their defense rise to the challenge this week?

Pearl-Cohn: Hardin County, second round. Without Barion Brown (suspension due to last week’s ejection for two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls), the Firebirds are without their greatest weapon heading to a tough environment. Can the other Firebirds step up and keep the train rolling?

Class 5A

Green Hill: Page or Nolensville, quarterfinals. Now that the fanfare of their first-ever playoff game is out of the way, the Hawks must settle in and play their game again against Columbia. Winning that game means drawing a powerful offense in either Nolensville or Page in the quarterfinals and that’s a big test.

Columbia: Green Hill, second round. Q Martin will need some more magic in the bag if the Lions hope to advance – they already have one loss at Green Hill this year, but it was in early September. They’ve been better since then, but they’d better not kick to Kaleb Carver.

Nolensville: Page, second round. The Knights desperately wanted another shot at the Patriots, and they’ll get their chance. But they did lose by 18 the first time around, so can they flip the script and play a better game in round two?

Page: Nolensville, second round. On the flip side, the Patriots can’t rest on that 18-point win knowing they’ll get the Knights’ best this week. First to 50 wins?

Springfield: Henry County or Munford, quarterfinals. If the Yellow Jackets can take care of business at home against Memphis Central, they’ll either get a talented Munford team or a battle-tested Henry County team the Yellow Jackets defeated just 6-3 in the regular season.

Keaten (left) and Destin Wade have helped Summit steamroll nearly every opponent in their way this season. (Kevin Smith/615 Preps)

Class 6A

Lebanon: Riverdale, second round. Only two teams have scored more than seven points against the Warriors this season. To advance, the Blue Devils will have to become the third, and the special teams may have to play a major role in doing so.

Riverdale: Lebanon, second round. The Warriors can’t think about an Oakland rematch. Lebanon’s defense has been terrific as well this season. While Riverdale’s defense has taken care of nearly all its games this year, the offense may have to go win one for a change.

Oakland: Maryville, semifinals. The only reason it’s Maryville is that Oakland has never won at Maryville. The Patriots must break that streak first.

Hendersonville: Beech, quarterfinals. Gallatin should put up a fight, but the Commandos are the better team and will likely get a rematch with Beech, who is still steaming from that regular-season loss to its city rival.

Gallatin: Hendersonville, second round. The Green Wave have never beaten Hendersonville in the postseason and will need a mistake-free game to change that trend.

Clarksville: Beech, second round. The Wildcats won’t be taken lightly by Beech and winning at Shackle Island is something not many teams have done in recent years.

Beech: Hendersonville, quarterfinals. Home field advantage means something in this series and the Bucs won’t have it if they do draw Hendersonville in the quarterfinals.

Brentwood: Summit, second round. The Bruins gave Summit its best test of the season, falling by 13 in the regular-season meeting. But they’ll have to give them an even better test if they hope to advance.

Summit: Oakland or Maryville, BlueCross Bowl. The Spartans are everybody else’s biggest hurdle now. There’s not a team left in 6A that they can’t beat, so their biggest hurdle is themselves. It’s cliché, yes, but clichés are rooted in truth.

Ravenwood: Collierville, second round. Forget any potential rematch with Summit for the moment because a road trip to unbeaten Collierville looms right in front of them.  

Division II-Class A

Friendship Christian: DCA, quarterfinals. The Commanders must solve DCA’s stifling defense while keeping the Wildcats’ big plays to a minimum. That’s turning the difficulty level to ‘expert.’

DCA: USJ, semifinals. The Bruins stand in the way of DCA reaching Chattanooga and would host the semifinal game this year.

MTCS: Nashville Christian, semifinals. The Cougars are on the verge of creating history for themselves, but Nashville Christian’s defense could play spoiler in that storyline.

Nashville Christian: USJ or DCA, BlueCross Bowl. A trip to MTCS does figure to be tough, yes, but the Eagles’ aim is the championship game, where they’ll likely face a rematch with DCA or a hungry USJ team that’s been there and fallen the past two years.

Despite being the defending Division II-Class AA champion, CPA finds itself as more of an underdog after its regular-season loss at Lipscomb Academy in October. (Kevin Smith/615 Preps)

Division II-Class AA

BGA: Lausanne, quarterfinals. The Wildcats will need a big night from Sean Williams to take down the Lynx and potentially make it an all-Midstate semifinal group.

CPA: Lipscomb Academy, BlueCross Bowl. We all saw what happened in Week 10, and the Lions might use that tape as motivation each week the rest of the year. The rematch is inevitable.

Lipscomb Academy: CPA, Blue Cross Bowl. Much like Summit, they’re in a position to win it all, but a second dose of CPA in the championship game might be like a video game boss that regenerates in a more difficult form the second time around.

Davidson Academy: Knoxville Webb, second round. The Bears are playing a different role this year – spoiler. They can do that again this week with another big night from Diivonta Phillips.

Division II-Class AAA

Father Ryan: McCallie, quarterfinals. Nobody’s been able to solve the Blue Tornado yet, so what might the Fighting Irish do differently to spring the upset?

Pope John Paul II: Brentwood Academy, second round. It’s been the never-ending nightmare for the Knights in this series, having lost all 16 previous meetings. Will they wake up from it this week?

Brentwood Academy: Pope John Paul II, second round. Why are the Knights the biggest hurdle for Brentwood Academy? Because they’re tired of being bullied in this series, they were close to winning last year and it has to happen sometime.

MBA: McCallie, BlueCross Bowl. The Big Red can certainly reach Chattanooga, but it would be a virtual home game for McCallie, and that spells trouble.

%d bloggers like this: