By Jake Evans:
Friday night, November 30th, at 7 PM, the undefeated MUS Owls will try to remain perfect, and capture their first state title since 2009. On the other side is the Brentwood Academy Eagles (11-2), who are looking to take home their 4th straight state title for the top private school division in Tennessee. After beating Ensworth, Christian Brothers, and MBA on the road in the playoffs, the Eagles are red hot, and in the form needed to win a state championship. For MUS, they beat JPII and McCallie en route to a perfect season leading into this week’s matchup in Cookeville. During the regular season, MUS was dominant, while BA struggled at times. The Eagles two losses came back-to-back in October, at the hands of McCallie and MBA. Since then though, they’ve gotten the job done, and have given themselves a shot at a 4th straight gold ball.
For MUS, their strength comes from a dynamic offense and iron curtain of a defense. Through 11 games, the Owls have scored 39.6 PPG while giving up just 8.7 PPG. 4-star LSU commit Maurice Hampton is the difference maker for MUS. He won Mr. Football last week for DII-AAA, after tallying 50 catches for 1,126 yards and 12 TDs on offense, while also adding a kickoff return for a TD and 2 punt return TDs. Hampton averaged 102 YPG and 22.4 YPC on the year, thanks in part to his QB Sellers Shy. Shy has thrown for nearly 2,500 yards on the year, an average of 226 yards per game, while tallying 23 TDs and 7 INTs. He’s added 10 rushing TDs too. Last week in MUS’ win over McCallie, Shy completed 22/34 passes for 258 yards, en route to the Owls first shot at a state title in nearly a decade. RB Hunter Kendall has provided balance for the Owls, churning out nearly 700 yards on the year, and 10 TDs. On defense for MUS, LB Dorian Hopkins is the man. Hopkins averages nearly 8 tackles per game, and has 15.0 TFL on the year. Next to Hopkins at LB is Matthew Rhodes, the second leading tackler for the Owls, who has 17.0 TFL this season. MUS has forced 21 turnovers on the year, a number that has given them a huge advantage in almost all their games this year. If they want to capture their first gold ball since 2009, they have to keep the BA offense at bay, force turnovers, and use Maurice Hampton to their advantage. The more he has the ball, the better.
For the Eagles, the main thing that they have going for them is the experience of a big game. The seniors for BA have played in this state title game 3 times already, something that no other group of seniors in the state of Tennessee can say. Through 13 games, the Eagles have scored 32.5 PPG while allowing only 10.2 PPG. Their offense has been a well-oiled machine as of late thanks to QB Wade Williams and RB Tomario Pleasant. The best weapon for the Eagles this season though has been their defense, and specifically junior LB Devyn Curtis. He’s made 88 tackles on the year, 16.5 TFL, 10 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery. He has been the central piece to the BA defense that has given up just 8.5 PPG since their loss to MBA in October. Last week, that defense for BA racked up 7 sacks against MBA, a big reason why they were able to knock off the Big Red at home. With that constant pressure from Curtis and his teammates, the BA defense has been relentless. As a result, the Eagles offense has been on the field more, scoring points. If BA wants to win on Friday, BA’s defense has to neutralize Maurice Hampton as much as possible.
This game should be a great one. BA is looking to four-peat, while MUS is looking to reestablish themselves as annual contenders in DII-AAA.
Kickoff is at 7 PM on Friday November 30th, at Tennessee Tech University.