Ezell Harding have had success playing 11 man football as the Eagles won the Class 1A state title in 2001.
The Webb School at Bell Buckle have had success playing football at the eight man football level as they have won two Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference titles in 2013 and 2016.
Webb finished 8-2 last season and finished as the MTAC runner up losing to Christian Community 26-0.
Now both teams will go into foreign territory for the 2019 season as Ezell Harding will play eight man football in the Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference while Webb School at Bell Buckle will leave eight man football behind and will play 11 man football in the TSSAA for the first time in school history.
The two schools will replace each other as Ezell will take Webb’s spot in the South Division of the Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference while Webb will be placed in Division II-A, which is the Division that Ezell has played in since 2009.
The other sports that both teams play at the varsity level will play in the TSSAA in Division II-A Middle Region.
Both schools envision staying and playing the their new divisions for the foreseeable future but both have said they would assess how its going after the two year period is over.
Webb School started their football program in 2011 and going the eight man football route was the best way to build their program according to Webb Athletic Director Scott Dorsett.
“Playing eight man football was the best way for us to enter football at a school that had never played football at the Interscholastic level. This has been a great opportunity for us to build our football program,” Dorsett said.
Since playing in the MTAC for eight seasons, the Webb administration never lost sight of playing in the TSSAA and playing 11 man football.
“We have always had a vision to play 11 man football and we felt like with the TSSAA adding a third classification to Division II and this being two years into the four year cycle, this was our opportunity to try. Our hope is to be playing 11-man for a long time, but in a worst case scenario we can head back to the MTAC and 8 man football after two years,” Dorsett said.
Ezell Harding is transitioning into eight man football because according to Ezell Harding President Lindsey Judd is the best way to play football despite low numbers as they will head into next season will 15 returning players on the roster.
“Going into eight man football is the best way for us to combat low numbers on the football team,” Judd said. “When we started doing the research into possibly going into eight man football, the administration and the coaching staff got excited about the prospect of it.”
“Its also a better way for us to compete with schools that have the same type playing numbers as we have and we feel like we can be very competitive quickly in eight man football.”
Since starting play in Division II-A East Region in 2009, Ezell Harding’s overall record is 34-72 and they were 17-39 in region play making the Division II-A playoffs six times (2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2018) in 10 seasons.
Despite making the playoffs six times, the Eagles never won a playoff game and their best overall win total season was a 5-6 record back in 2012.
The last winning season for Ezell Harding came back in 2005 when they went 8-4 and made the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
Ezell Harding will be taking Webb’s spot in the South Division as they will compete with Lancaster Christian (Smyrna), Riverside Christian Academy (Fayetteville), St. Andrews Sewanee (Sewanee) and Franklin Christian Academy (Franklin).
The North Division will have the following teams: Christian Community (White House), Lighthouse Christian (Antioch), Middle Tennessee Heat (Mt. Juliet), South Haven Christian (Springfield) and Bowling Green Christian (Bowling Green, KY).
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