With two weeks remaining in the regular season, it would stand to reason that a number of upcoming games would have playoff implications.
And with it being 2020, it would stand to reason that the upcoming schedule is — once again — jacked up.
Anticipated inclement weather has prompted two area contests to be played a day early, with a COVID cancellation forcing another area team into a matchup against an out-of-state foe.
It all makes for an intriguing two-day menu. Let’s see what Mostradamus sees from the Thursday and Friday slate.
(All games Friday, 7 p.m., unless indicated.)
Lawrence Co. (3-5) at Summertown (3-4), Thursday: From playing their home games at Lawrence County’s Hendrix-Staggs Stadium six years ago, Summertown has progressed to hosting its county rival for the first time. The Eagles, ranked as high as No. 9 in Class 2A earlier this season, are in the midst of a four-game slide following an 18-14 come-from-ahead loss to visiting region rival Eagleville; a ‘scoop and score’ inside the final 90 seconds turned the outcome, despite a 93-yard rushing performance by junior RB Javen Edmiston (473 rushing yards, five TDs). Summertown should be motivated against a Wildcat squad that owns its own losing streak. Since opening the year with back-to-back victories over Hickman County and Loretto, along with a ‘COVID win’ over Maplewood, Lawrence County has lost five straight – allowing 31 or more points in four of those. In their only previous meeting, Lawrence County claimed a 16-0 decision on its home field. Location may yet again be the deciding factor. Summertown 19, Lawrence Co. 15.
Stratford (1-3) at Columbia Central (4-4), Thursday: A non-league clash may come at a good time for the host Lions, who have dropped consecutive Region 5-5A matchups that may have dropped them out of postseason contention. Their playoff hopes will certainly need some help along with a victory in next week’s season finale at Shelbyville. First, though, they face a Spartan squad that started the season nearly a month late because of Metro Nashville Public Schools pandemic limitations. Since opening its schedule with a 27-26 Week 5 win over Hunters Lane, Stratford has managed just two touchdowns in losses to Green Hill, Pearl-Cohn and East Nashville. Though Central is likely to be without a handful of players because of injuries and COVID concerns, events surrounding the contest – homecoming festivities, plus recognition of the 2010 Class 5A state championship team – make this a tough game to lose. Columbia Central 28, Stratford 16.
Columbia Acad. (1-5) vs. Rabun Co., Ga., (5-1) at Boyd Buchanan, Chattanooga, 6:30 p.m.: Originally slated to play a Division II-A West Region contest at Clarksville Academy, the Bulldogs were without a game when the Cougars were quarantined a week ago. On Tuesday, though, a matchup was arranged against one of Northeast Georgia’s top programs. Rabun County, a Class 2A (out of seven classes) program featuring junior QB Gunner Stockton (2,033 total yards, 33 TDs) has averaged 44.7 points this season and comes off a 63-17 win over Class 6A Marietta Pope. Winless going into a COVID pause, CA has since taken Trinity Christian to overtime before falling 22-21 and picked up its first victory a week ago, a 43-21 decision over Tipton-Rosemark. Prior to their last two games, the ‘Dogs had averaged less than 10 points per contest. Rabun Co. 38, Columbia Acad. 21.
East Hickman (5-2) at Zion Chr. (4-4): With a victory in their home finale, the Eagles – following last week’s 34-27 win at Mt. Pleasant – can assure themselves of their first five-win campaign since 2012 (5-6) and their first .500 finish since 2009, when they finished 7-4 and made the first of four straight playoff appearances. Zion clearly goes as junior QB Luke Perko (1,764 offensive yards, 22 TDs) goes, as witnessed by his accounting for all five (three passing, two rushing) TDs against Mt. Pleasant. East Hickman, meanwhile, has snapped a skid of six straight losing seasons and has won its last two outings (along with a ‘COVID win’ over Waverly), outscoring Cheatham County and Hickman County by a combined 56 points. Zion won last year’s matchup 14-8. This one stands to be close as well. Zion Chr. 27, East Hickman 22.
Independence (5-1, 3-0) at Brentwood (6-2, 3-0): This stands to be Independence’s biggest matchup of the season, as the Eagles travel north for a cross-county matchup against the state’s fifth-ranked Class 6A team with the Region 6 top spot at stake. The Bruins’ lone losses have been to top-ranked Brentwood Academy (Division II-AAA) and Oakland (Class 6A). Expect the quarterbacks to set the tone for both teams – Cade Granzow for Brentwood, Jaxson Campbell for Independence. A first-year starter, Campbell has ran and thrown for 1,651 offensive yards with 22 TDs while spreading the ball around in the passing game; four different receivers have 10-plus receptions and 100-plus yards. Granzow’s top target is Tennessee commit Walker Merrill, while Aaron Walton is a threat as well. Weather permitting, this could be an air show. Independence 31, Brentwood 27.
Mt. Pleasant (1-6) at Eagleville (3-5): The host Eagles got a boost of confidence – and a boost in their postseason chances – with last week’s last-minute win at region rival Summertown. Mt. Pleasant, meanwhile, stumbled after recording its first victory of the season against visiting 2A foe Loretto and fell to Zion Christian in its final home game of the season. The young Tigers will try to salvage something from a tough campaign against surging Eagleville, with hopes of an upset here and in their Week 11 league finale at Moore County. Sophomore RB Zavier Davidson (480 rushing yards, seven TDs) has been a bright spot offensively of late for the Tigers. Eagleville 26, Mt. Pleasant 20.
Richland (2-5, 1-2) at Moore Co. (7-1, 2-1): The visiting Raiders can throw a significant monkey wrench into the Region 5-1A standings with a win over the host Raiders, ranked No. 5 in Class 1A. The ground game combination of Kyler Parker and Tyler Smith has powered a Moore County offensive that averages 354 yards and just under 30 points per contest, including a 31-21 league win last week at Huntland. Richland has dropped consecutive outings, falling 19-14 to Spring Hill and 30-13 to visiting Cornersville in a region matchup. RBs Austin Seals (597 yards, four TDs) and Trey Walkington (164 yards in last two games) help key the visitors’ rushing attack. Moore Co. 34, Richland 26.
Spring Hill (2-5) at Battle Ground Acad. (4-3): After two wins and a win-worthy effort last week, Spring Hill hopes to take some momentum on the road against BGA, which won in decisive fashion (42-0) last season. The Raiders have played better defensively than their record indicates, and of late, the offense has caught up behind RBs Mac Richie (204 rushing yards, two TDs in last three weeks) and Landen Secrest (232 rushing/receiving yards, three TDs in last three weeks). The Wildcats, meanwhile, stopped a three-game skid with consecutive victories against Franklin Road Academy and Lincoln County. QB Brett Brown threw for 135 yards and two TDs in the Week 9 win, with RB Zach Flores rushing for 157 yards and two scores on 12 carries. Battle Ground Acad. 24, Spring Hill 17.
Last week: 5-2 (.714)
Season: 39-13 (.750)