Mostradamus speaks: Playoff semifinal predictions

Summit beat Beech.

Beech beat Henry County.

So … ?

It probably will not be as simple as that when the Spartans travel to Paris for Friday’s Class 5A state semifinal contest, but the fact that they’ve already gone on the road and claimed a postseason victory against a battle-tested squad should be a check in their favor on the weekend’s checklist.

Past that, Summit – the only 5A semifinalist from last year’s ‘Final Four’ – hasn’t lost since dropping a 27-20 decision in Week 4 to eventual Class 6A quarterfinalist Franklin. The Spartans (12-1) take a five-game (on-field) winning streak into the semis, along with four ‘COVID wins’ that disrupted the second half of their schedule.

The down time hasn’t seemed to have much of an adverse effect, as Summit’s three playoff wins have come by an average of 19 points.

Henry County, meanwhile, hasn’t lost over that time frame either. In addition to that 21-14 Week 2 loss to Beech (at Milan), the Patriots (10-2) fell two weeks later at Class 6A semifinalist Brentwood by a 55-17 deficit. From there, though, they’ve posted eight straight victories and done so in impressive fashion, by an average margin of 44.3 points.

An offense that centers around senior RB Jermarcus Johnson (1,687 yards, 25 TDs) and sophomore QB Ryan Damron (1,351 passing yards, 15 TDs) has done the bulk of that damage, with sophomore RB Zamaryion Kendall chipping in 487 rushing yards and 14 TDs.

Still, Henry County’s success includes wins over six teams that finished at or below .500, compared to five for the Spartans.

Led by Mr. Football finalist Destin Wade, Summit’s offensive versatility has made them a tough out and should continue to do so. After rushing for 624 yards and passing for 166 in postseason wins over Hillwood and Columbia Central, the Spartans opened up the air game and threw for 218 yards – and four touchdowns – along with 230 rushing yards in the Beech victory.

Meanwhile, a defense sparked by DEs Tre Hunter and Caleb Jolley and CB Konata Werts stands to get a lift from LB Keaten Wade, who has played in just one game this season because of a foot injury but is expected to see time Friday.

It all points to Summit slipping past Henry County and making a return trip to Cookeville.

Mostradamus’ pick: Summit 34, Henry Co. 26.

Also (home team in bold):
Oakland over Maryville
Brentwood over Bartlett
Oak Ridge over South-Doyle
Elizabethton over Nolensville
Haywood over Lexington
Alcoa over Red Bank
Pearl-Cohn over Milan
Trousdale Co. over Meigs Co.
Peabody over Waverly
South Pittsburg over Coalfield
Fayetteville over Lake Co.

Last week: 3-2 (.600)
Season: 75-26 (.743)

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