Barring any ‘unforeseen circumstances’ in the next few hours, Friday promises to provide the first set of high school football games this season in which each area team plays its originally scheduled opponent.
No COVID cancellations. No last-minute replacements.
In a season best described as ‘fluid’, that bit of consistency this far into the season is stunning at best.
Perhaps it’ll help Mostradamus with his Week 9 attempts at prognostication. Let’s see.
Columbia Central (4-3, 1-2) at Page (2-3, 0-1): For observers that are into comparing scores, Central’s 42-13 loss to Giles County in Week 4 and Page’s 36-10 win over the Bobcats two weeks later certainly make the hosts a fashionable favorite in this key Region 5-5A matchup. Rarely is it that simple, but the Lions coming off a 15-11 league loss at Franklin County and an open week may further simplify the situation. Still, this is a young Patriot squad that hasn’t played since that Giles County win, as they were sidelined for COVID concerns for their scheduled Oct. 2 matchup with Summit and had an open date as well last week. Junior QB Jake McNamara has emerged as an offensive leader, running and throwing for 268 yards and four total TDs in his team’s last outing. Meanwhile, Central has been solid defensively since that Week 4 defeat – limiting Lincoln County, Nolensville and Franklin County to just under 17 points apiece on average. DE Antwan Moore, LB Shane Cobb and DBs Nick Butler and Roman Woodson have helped key an effort on that side of the ball that has typically kept the Lions in games. If the offensive unit can minimize turnovers and undisciplined penalties, Central could pick up a much-needed road win. Columbia Central 24, Page 20.
Cornersville (5-2, 1-2) at Richland (2-4, 1-1): The host Raiders acquitted themselves well in a 19-14 loss last week to visiting Class 4A foe Spring Hill, taking that game right down to the wire despite the absence of senior RB Austin Seals. A win in this Region 5-1A matchup against the Associated Press No. 9 Bulldogs could keep Richland in the hunt for a second straight playoff berth. Cornersville’s only league victory thus far came when Mt. Pleasant was unable to play because of COVID concerns; the Bulldogs lost to Fayetteville two weeks ago and come off an open date. For Richland, this could be another close-and-late affair. Cornersville 27, Richland 23.
Dickson Co. (1-6, 0-3) at Independence (4-1, 2-0): Another team that hasn’t played in October, Independence will try to pick up where it left off – defeating Hendersonville 35-23 in Week 6 – while facing a Dickson County squad coached by former Eagles assistant Greg Burns. The Cougars, led by RB Clinton Shrader (599 rushing yards, five TDs), recorded a ‘COVID win’ in Week 4 when McGavock was unavailable to play. On the field, Dickson County has yet to score more than 21 points or allow fewer than 22, outscored by an average margin of 18.5 points. How the Independence offense, triggered by QB Jaxson Campbell (1,509 offensive yards, 19 TDs) responds after two weeks off will be worth monitoring, but the Eagles should emerge with their fifth straight victory in this Region 6-6A tilt. Independence 38, Dickson Co. 13.
Eagleville (2-5, 1-2) at Summertown (3-3, 0-2): Quarantined for the past two weeks, Summertown will have had one day of practice before Eagleville visits for a Region 5-2A contest with postseason implications for both squads. Lack of preparation time aside, though, the break may have come at a good time for the hosts, who had dropped three straight after a 3-0 start (including a ‘COVID win’ over Collinwood) saw them break into the AP Class 2A Top 10 at No. 9. Offensively, Summertown hasn’t been as potent as desired to this point; despite the presence of junior QB Colton Shaffer, RB Aniken Johnson and RB/WR Javen Edmiston (499 rushing/receiving yards, seven TDs), that unit has averaged 16.2 points. Eagleville, meanwhile, opened the year with three straight losses and comes in on a two-game skid, but posted back-to-back wins over Pickett County and Community. Three of Eagleville’s losses, including a 39-7 defeat at the hands of league-leading Lewis County on Oct. 2, have come to AP Top 10 opposition. With both teams in dire need of a win, this should be a nailbiter. Eagleville 17, Summertown 12.
Marshall Co. (6-1, 2-1) at Spring Hill (2-4, 1-1): Despite wins in their last two outings, the host Raiders will have their work cut out for them against the No. 4 team in Class 4A. Among Marshall County’s victories are one against 2019 state finalist Springfield and two against Class 5A foes Shelbyville and Lincoln County. And besides the Tigers’ 42-7 loss to unbeaten, third-ranked Region 4-4A leader Tullahoma, they have scored 25 points or more in each of their outings. QB Bryson Hammons has thrown for 1,010 yards and 12 TDs, with WR A’ky Howard (369 receiving yards, two TDs) emerging as his favorite target. Spring Hill, meanwhile, has seen some explosiveness of late from Landen Secrest; over the past two games, the senior RB/WR has 181 scrimmage yards and three offensive TDs on 12 touches. He, RB Mac Richie and WR Dante Prowell will be challenged to keep up with the visitors’ attack. Marshall Co. 28, Spring Hill 17.
Shelbyville (5-2, 2-0) at Summit (7-1, 3-0): Since a season-opening loss to Class 4A power Tullahoma, the visiting Golden Eagles have averaged 42.2 points, with QB Kade Cunningham running the offense for first-year coach Josh Pickett. Of late, Shelbyville has put up 44, 66 and 50 points in wins over Centennial, Lincoln County and Cleveland. Those numbers certainly have the attention of a Summit squad that shook off the rust from a couple of COVID breaks to defeat Region 5-5A host Franklin County 33-9 last week. Spartans QB Destin Wade (1,426 offensive yards, 18 TDs) threw three interceptions in the win, but also threw for 126 yards and a pair of TDs. If this turns into the shootout that previous performances might indicate, senior DE/LB Gavin Wells will take on added importance for the hosts as Keaten Wade – who made his season debut at Franklin County after foot surgery – will not play because of foot soreness. Summit 41, Shelbyville 33.
Tipton-Rosemark (3-4, 2-4) at Columbia Acad. (0-5, 0-3): The visiting Wolves have been prone to allowing points; opponents have outscored them by an average of 45 points in their four losses. That’s a number that may bode well for a CA squad that put forth its most productive offensive performance in last week’s 22-21 overtime loss at Trinity Christian. Behind senior FB Max Ballard (130 rushing yards, TD), the Bulldogs rolled up 279 offensive yards and gained 19 first downs. If Columbia Academy can build on that outing and reduce its miscues (three turnovers, nine penalties vs. Trinity), that long-sought first victory could be in sight. Columbia Acad. 23, Tipton-Rosemark 16.
Zion Chr. (3-4) at Mt. Pleasant (1-5): Ahead of this rivalry game, Mt. Pleasant picked up its first win of the season last week – defeating Loretto 27-20 – with the Tigers as close to full strength as they’ve been at any point this season. With the bulk of their roster on hand, the hosts put up a dominant rushing performance, finishing with 277 yards on the ground as sophomore Zavier Davidson ran for 164 and three TDs. Conversely, the Eagles will look to do their damage in the passing game with junior QB Luke Perko (1,493 offensive yards, 17 total TDs) leading the way. Mt. Pleasant 26, Zion Chr. 21.
Last week: 3-1 (.750)
Season: 34-11 (.756)