By Maurice Patton
Reclassification always results in fascinating scheduling matchups, and this cycle appears to be no different.
Along with a new football region – 5-2A – Mt. Pleasant finds itself facing a couple of new opponents for the 2021 and ’22 campaigns.
The Tigers are set to host Maury County rivals Columbia Central and Spring Hill next fall, with the Lions visiting Sept. 24 and the Raiders doing so on Oct. 22.
Mt. Pleasant finished 1-8 this fall, missing the Class 1A state playoffs for the first time in four years. Spring Hill qualified for the Class 4A playoffs and finished 3-6, while Central advanced to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs and finished 6-6.
“We couldn’t find a Week 6 opponent within three hours of us,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bronson Bradley said. “(Central coach Jason Hoath) posted Friday he needed a Week 6 game. We never played before, the kids have always said they wanted to play them.
“We used to play Spring Hill, and we just thought it would be cool if we could all play.”
It will be the first official gridiron meeting between the Lions and Tigers since 1961, with Central having won 16 straight matchups in the series after the two teams played to a scoreless tie in their initial clash in 1935.
“It’s a close game for us, Bronson runs a good program down there, and it should be good gates for us both,” Hoath said. “The scheduling process is one of the worst parts of coaching. He was in the same boat as I was in.”
Mt. Pleasant and Spring Hill revive a series last played in 2014. The Raiders enjoy a 15-9 advantage, having won the last two meetings after Tiger victories in 2010, ‘ 11 and ’12.
“(Bradley) reached out to us,” Spring Hill coach Ben Martin said. “In the situation we’re going to be in next year, if we can find games close, without a lot of travel, I think that’ll be a good thing. We’re trying to base our schedule on geography.
“That could be a ‘trap’ game for us: If I win, I’m supposed to; if I don’t, ‘what the heck?’ It’ll be a competitive game, and from his standpoint, there’s nothing to lose.”
Neither Columbia Central nor Spring Hill have completed their schedules for the upcoming season, but both will play in Region 6-5A – along with Franklin County, Lincoln County, Nolensville and Page – making the ‘Backyard Bowl’ a league contest as well.
“It’s going to be interesting, having Central in our region,” Martin said. “Nolensville was with us (in Region 4-4A), so that’s a familiar opponent. Lincoln County’s been on the schedule the last couple of years, although we didn’t play them this year (because of COVID). We picked up Page. It’s going to be a formidable region. I think it’ll be competitive, but I thought our old region was competitive. I think we traded apples for apples.”
“I like our region,” Hoath added. “They’re all good football teams. It’ll be a very competitive region. It’ll all be up for grabs every year.”
Richland will be moving up from Region 5-1A along with Mt. Pleasant, with Forrest, Loretto and Summertown remaining in the 5-2A configuration and Cascade moving in from Region 4-2A.
“We were in Class 2A when I first got here,” said Bradley, who just completed his seventh season at the Tigers’ helm. “I think we’ll compete pretty well with those schools. We’ve scheduled them pretty regularly, either in games or scrimmages. I don’t think it’ll really hurt us.”
Mt. Pleasant 2021 football schedule
*Region 5-2A game
|Aug. 20 East Hickman|
|Aug. 27 at Scotts Hill|
|Sept. 3 Cascade*|
|Sept. 10 Lewis Co.|
|Sept. 17 at Loretto*|
|Sept. 24 Columbia Central|
|Oct. 1 Richland*|
|Oct. 15 at Summertown*|
|Oct. 22 Spring Hill|
|Oct. 29 at Forrest*|