Friday’s Class 5A state playoff quarterfinal matchup between Summit and host Beech promises to only be pretty for whoever wins it.
Both teams have displayed physical running games and battle-tested defenses over the course of the season, including their last outings – with Beech posting a shocking 36-0 win over Region 6-5A rival Hillsboro and Summit downing Columbia Central 28-14 to sweep its Region 5-5A foe.
“It’s going to be a fun, physical, close football game,” veteran Summit coach Brian Coleman said. “We’re going to have to match their physicality. We’ve got to tackle their little running back; we can’t let him bounce.
“We’ve got to limit the mistakes. We’re 0-2 against them, and both times we made the mistakes. A lot of these kids were on the team that went three overtimes there. They understand and remember. We’ve got to limit the mistakes, for sure.”
Before advancing to the state finals last year, the Spartans (11-1) had seen each of their previous two seasons end at the hands of the Buccaneers – falling 45-42 in triple overtime on the road to open the 2018 playoffs, and dropping a 21-16 quarterfinal decision at home in 2017.
Offensively, Beech (9-1) is paced by Tysean Jefferson. The 5-5, 143-pound senior has rushed for 1,156 yards and 13 touchdowns in an offense that’s predicated on the ground game. No receiver has more than 12 catches or 200 yards, and quarterback Xaviere Jones has thrown for 790 yards and seven scores (with six interceptions).
“They’re going to get in that ‘double-tight (end)’, smoke-stack and try to 3- and 4-yard us to death,” Coleman said.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Bronco Hanks sets the tone with a team-high 94 tackles (49 solos), a sack and a fumble recovery.
That unit, which has helped Beech to an eight-game win streak (nine counting a Week 3 ‘COVID victory’ over Glencliff) since a 26-24 season-opening loss to Powell, will be challenged. Summit averaged 33.5 points in its eight on-field contests.
Keying that attack is junior quarterback Destin Wade, a Class 5A Mr. Football finalist who’s averaging 156.5 offensive yards per game with 26 total touchdowns. Wade comes off a 242-yard, three-TD rushing effort against Central.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best game,” Coleman said. “I think our guys understand what this team (Beech) is all about.”
Mostradamus’ pick: Summit 24, Beech 20.
Moore Co. over Fayetteville
Pearl-Cohn over Stewart Co.
Tullahoma over Nolensville
Brentwood over Franklin
Last week: 8-4 (.667)
Season: 72-24 (.750)