The Saturday Six: One step closer

Six teams can now make their plans to be in Chattanooga on Dec. 2 for the BlueCross Bowl as Division II finalists became known Friday evening. A dozen more will punch their ticket next week when the Division I semifinals play out the day after Thanksgiving. Some thoughts from round three of the postseason:

Heavy area flavor on BlueCross Bowl Thursday: All three Division II championship games on Dec. 2 will feature area teams in rematches of regular-season meetings as five of the six slots were filled by local teams. Class AA kicks off first at 11 a.m. Eastern with CPA and Lipscomb Academy renewing their intensifying rivalry as the Lions seek to avenge their 38-0 loss on the road in the first meeting on Oct. 22. At 3 p.m. Eastern, DCA and Nashville Christian tangle again, with the Eagles seeking revenge of their 7-3 loss at DCA on Oct. 29. The nightcap kicks off at 7 p.m. Eastern as MBA and McCallie meet again in what is a virtual home game for the Blue Tornado. McCallie won the first meeting at MBA by a 34-31 count on Sept. 3.

Fourth time not the charm: Trousdale County obviously doesn’t mind giving up a region title if it means getting the better of Watertown in the playoffs. The Yellow Jackets eliminated the Region 4-2A champions for the fourth consecutive year in the quarterfinals at Watertown on Friday, winning 23-0 in a dominant defensive showing that suggests they could very well be the answer to the question “who can stop Westview?” Bryson Claiborne had three long touchdown runs and the Yellow Jacket defense turned Watertown over three times in the shutout. Next up is a trip to Hampton and load up the charter buses – it’s a 274-mile trip that, via Mapquest, should take roughly four-and-a-half hours. For reference, it’s in the far northeast part of Tennessee, further east than Asheville, North Carolina.

Closer, but not close enough: Ravenwood made things interesting in its Class 6A quarterfinal rematch at Summit, but the Spartans pulled away in the second half, ending the game on a 28-7 run for a 20-point win to advance to the semifinals. And the usual suspects guided the Spartans to 13-0 – Destin Wade scored twice on long runs, Brady Pierce caught three scoring passes and ran another one in, plus put the game away with an interception. Keaten Wade eclipsed 100 yards and anchored the defense again. Teams know what they must do to stop Summit – they simply haven’t been physically able to do so to this point. Hendersonville will get the next opportunity in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Oakland’s still rolling, but history is now in the way: Oakland jumped on Lebanon from the opening kickoff Friday, winning 45-20 to end the Blue Devils’ stellar campaign. It sends the Patriots to the 6A semifinals for the eighth consecutive season to face Maryville again. In each of the last six years, the home team in this semifinal matchup has won. Oakland has never won at Maryville, having lost all four trips to the East Tennessee power by an average of eight points. They’ll have to buck the trend to get to Chattanooga. Maryville, however, did just survive a scare from Farragut in the quarterfinal round.

Patriot games: Page reached the semifinal round for the first time since 1998, ending Green Hill’s remarkable run in the Class 5A quarterfinals on Friday. Their semifinal opponent will be Henry County, as that set of Patriots became the first team to shut out Springfield since 2017. It’ll be the first meeting between the two teams with a trip to the BlueCross Bowl on the line.

East Nashville defense getting nasty: East Nashville’s defense has dialed up the heat the past month, allowing just 27 points in the last four games. The latest, a 17-13 win over visiting White House, puts the Eagles into the Class 3A semifinals for the first time. They’ll face Dyersburg, who knocked off Covington in overtime to advance. The Trojans have scored 48 or more points eight times this season, including five consecutive games prior to Friday’s 21-20 win over the Chargers. It’s another first-time meeting in the semifinals, and defense will be on the menu – both teams have combined for nine shutouts this season, with Dyersburg pitching five of them.

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