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
Spring Hill and Lawrence County’s bowling teams ended Monday the same way they started – facing each other at Tenn Pin Alley.
But after losing a one-game rolloff to establish seeding in the District 8 Tournament, the Raiders won the matchup that counted – claiming the first boys/co-ed team title in the program’s history by a 15.5-11.5 margin.
“Everybody woke up,” said Spring Hill senior Nick Erdman, who rolled a team-high 711 series in the finals. “We were tired, sore (for the morning match). We weren’t loosey-goosey. We weren’t loud. There wasn’t a lot of support for each other. We weren’t as involved as we were in the finals.
“We were yelling, encouraging each other. That definitely helped us out. We wanted it, really bad.”
Both teams went undefeated in district play, but their contest was canceled because of COVID and the schedule did not allow for a makeup match. Lawrence County took the top seed with the rolloff victory, then defeated No. 8 seed Summit (16-11) and No. 4 Columbia Central (17-10) to advance to the finals.
“I can’t complain,” Central coach Randy Cook said regarding his team, which defeated fifth-seeded Marshall County in the quarterfinals. “They hung in there. They were over 3,000 (pins) in both matches.
“It’s been a learning experience. I can’t complain. It’s just a matter of getting them more consistent, which means practice.”
Spring Hill downed No. 7 seed Santa Fe 22.5-4.5 in the opening round and No. 6 seed Franklin County – an upset winner over Tullahoma in the quarterfinals – to set up the rematch.
“We really didn’t care (about the rolloff),” Raiders coach Don McKinnon said. “We knew we’d make it through and meet them again, and we made it count.”
Behind Erdman, an individual state qualifier a year ago, Spring Hill got a 648 series from junior Jeremy Gearlds, a 631 from junior Tyler Williams and a 630 from junior David Yauger.
“We were up 131 points after the second game; we only needed four points at that point to win the match,” McKinnon said. “We only needed to win one game, and we won two.”
Both Spring Hill and Lawrence County will advance to the Region 4 semifinals, which are currently scheduled to be held in January, ahead of the Division I state tournament, set for Jan. 21-23 in Smyrna.
Erdman expressed appreciation for McKinnon and assistant Derrick Reynolds following the championship victory.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” he said.
In girls competition, top seed Tullahoma defeated Lawrence County 22-5 for the title.
Columbia Central at Smyrna Cornersville at Culleoka Fairview at Santa Fe Lewis Co. at Hampshire Summertown at Eagleville Summit girls at Harpeth
Columbia Acad. at Riverside Chr. Cornersville at Mt. Pleasant Lawrence Co. boys at Culleoka Livingston Acad. at Independence Moore Co. girls at Culleoka Richland at Eagleville
Columbia Central at Forrest Jackson Co. at Columbia Acad.
McCallie boys at Independence, 1 p.m. Huntingdon at Summertown, 2 p.m. Summit girls vs. Northwest at Gallatin, 3 p.m. Summit girls at Gallatin, 6 p.m.
Richland Play Day
Spring Hill girls at Richland, 10:30 a.m. Harriman boys at Richland, 12 noon Giles Co. girls vs. Spring Hill, 1:30 p.m. Fayetteville boys vs. Harriman, 3 p.m. Giles Co. girls at Richland, 4:30 p.m. Fayetteville boys at Richland, 6 p.m.