Week 3? Not bad for Mostradamus. Not perfect (two consecutive weeks would have been a bit much to ask), but no glaring surprises, either.
Week 4 features a handful of traditional/geographic rivalries, which can always be entertaining to watch — but dicey to pick. One of those is a late – and one is an even later — pandemic-related addition to the schedule.
Between those and a couple of key regional contests, it should make for an intriguing Friday night. Let’s see what the turbaned prognosticator sees coming.
(All games 7 p.m. kickoff unless otherwise noted.)
Columbia Central (2-1) at Giles Co. (1-1): Looking to bounce back from a difficult Region 5-5A homefield loss to Summit, the Lions are traveling south rather than north – where they were supposed to face Overton, before Metro Nashville Public Schools delayed the start of their athletic season because of COVID concerns. Giles County, meanwhile, was slated to face Region 5-3A foe East Nashville this weekend but shifted that game (which was subsequently canceled) ahead a week to fit Central into its schedule. The Bobcats, led by junior RB Chaye McElroy (1,300 rushing yards, 16 TDs in 2019), lost their only on-field decision in Week 1 to Lincoln County, with their Week 2 contest at Hendersonville suspended because of inclement weather before a victory was awarded over East Nashville. Coming off a loss in which they struggled defensively, the Lions will try to re-establish themselves on the strength of that unit, led by LBs Shane Cobb and Watson Harvey, DE Antwan Moore and DB Nick Butler. This will mark the first meeting between Central and Giles County since the Bobcats claimed a 70-28 victory at ‘The Brickyard’ in 2016. Central leads the series, which dates to 1937, 23-4-1. The visitors should add to that total. Columbia Central 24, Giles Co. 20.
Davidson Acad. (2-0, 1-0) at Columbia Acad. (0-2, 0-0): Winners of the last two Division II-A state titles, the visiting Bears opened West Region play last week with a 35-0 win over Nashville Christian – their second shutout in as many outings – and bring a No. 1 Associated Press poll ranking into town. Though untested at quarterback, Davidson’s calling card is its defense, led by LB A.J. Quinn, DE Kendyle Ball and a secondary featuring Griffen Swinea and Kelvi Rice. The Bulldogs, conversely, have had turnover issues through their opening two losses (though they reduced that number from six against Clay County to one against Shelbyville). Protecting the ball, and getting it to their playmakers such as senior RB Franklin Walker will play a key role in the hosts’ success. Davidson Acad. 27, Columbia Acad. 17.
Franklin (1-2) at Summit (3-0): Undefeated and ranked second in the Associated Press Class 5A statewide rankings for the third straight week, Summit is set to host the Williamson County flagship program. The Admirals opened the season with a convincing victory over Siegel, followed by consecutive losses to Class 6A ranked foes Riverdale and Ravenwood. Franklin boasts its offensive version of ‘the triplets’ in QB Connor Beavon (603 passing yards, seven TDs), RB Bryce Sparks (159 rushing yards) and WR Carson Repass (283 receiving yards, four TDs), with junior OT Fisher Anderson (6-7, 265) expected to be one of the state’s top 2022 recruits. Junior QB Destin Wade (914 offensive yards, 12 total TDs) spearheads a Spartan offense that is averaging 38.3 points per game, while Summit’s defense has allowed just two touchdowns in its last nine quarters of competition. Summit 31, Franklin 23.
Independence (1-1) at Blackman (1-2): After a couple of high-profile losses — to perennial Class 3A state title contender Alcoa and Class 6A third-ranked Ravenwood – Blackman opened Region 3-6A play by throttling Coffee County 44-6. Behind QB Drew Beam, a three-year starter, the Blaze scored four first-half touchdowns and rolled. RBs Charles Gaunt, Jaylyn Pleasant and Andrew Hudson-Jackson shared the ballcarrying duties, each scoring a TD and combining for 200-plus yards. The Eagles, meanwhile, continue to get stellar play from QB Jaxson Campbell, who has run and thrown for 599 yards and eight TDs. With a 110-yard, three-TD effort on four catches, Calvin Wilson has emerged as Campbell’s favorite target, though 10 different players have at least one reception and seven have multiple catches for Independence. Spreading the offensive wealth could be the key as the Eagles look for their second straight road win, following last week’s Region 6-6A victory at Centennial. Independence 34, Blackman 21.
Mt. Pleasant (0-2, 0-1) at Fayetteville (2-1, 1-0): The host Tigers, ranked fifth in the current AP Class 1A Top 10 poll, rallied for a 20-14 win over Huntland last week in their Region 5-1A opener. Keying the comeback was a 76-yard Isaiah Thompson kickoff return to open the second half, sandwiching a pair of Graham Pace rushing TDs. The visiting Tigers, meanwhile, have struggled with youthful miscues through narrow losses to Summertown and Richland, the latter in league play last week. With a healthy TB Zavior Davidson and freshman Keevon Cooper to go with WB Ladontay Patton and QB Te’Varius Strayhorn in the running game, Mt. Pleasant has enough potential firepower to give the hosts some problems, and the visitors’ defense – led by LB Ethan Beasley — has allowed just 13.5 points in two games. However, Mt. Pleasant is expected to be without a couple of starters because of pandemic concerns. A Tigers’ victory in this one is guaranteed. Fayetteville 23, Mt. Pleasant 20.
Summertown (3-0) at Donelson Chr. (2-0), 7:30 p.m.: In an 11th-hour addition to the schedule, the Eagles travel to the north side of Nashville for a clash between two teams that woke up Thursday morning without opponents. Donelson Christian, ranked fourth in Division II-A, had been set for a region contest against Middle Tennessee Christian before coaches at the Murfreesboro school tested positive for COVID-19, while Summertown had a similar situation crop up with its original opponent, Richland. The Wildcats, 8-4 last season, opened with league victories over Silverdale Academy (27-13) and Webb-Bell Buckle (50-6) before their region contest against Friendship Christian was rescheduled by mutual agreement to Sept. 18. Summertown, ranked seventh this week in Class 2A, was in dire need of a game after its contest last week at Collinwood was also canceled by COVID. The Eagles, who previously edged Mt. Pleasant 13-12 and knocked off Wayne County 26-6, are led by the RB tandem of Javen Edmiston (186 rushing yards, three TDs) and Aniken Johnson (112 rushing yards). Donelson Chr. 17, Summertown 13.
Zion Chr. (1-2) vs. Sale Creek (0-3), 6 p.m. CT: Getting there may be half the fun for the Eagles, who will play the Panthers – from Hamilton County — at Fort Bluff in Dayton, which is in Rhea County. Upon arrival, Zion Christian will take the momentum of its 36-0 win over the Memphis Nighthawks last week into the matchup against a Sale Creek team that fell 47-0 to Copper Basin in Region 3-1A play. Each of the three Panthers’ losses have been by 18 points or more, though two have been on the road. Zion will try to build on junior QB Luke Perko’s most recent outing, as he ran and threw for 249 yards and three TDs. Zion Chr. 31, Sale Creek 26.
Last week: 4-1 (.800)
Season: 13-4 (.765)