By Chad Withrow:
Football season is back and with it comes a world of possibilities for over 300 teams across the state of Tennessee. There is a buzz in the air this morning as we are now mere hours away from kick-off across the state. Speaking of the state, Tennessee has steadily improved its level of high school football year after year since I started broadcasting high school football in 2004. Nowhere has seen a bigger and faster uptick than the mid-state where the mix of a population explosion and better coaching and resources have made many players and programs across the region a must watch product every Friday night. My aim with this weekly column is to bring you a good mix of public and private, urban and rural, and big and small. I want to create the best possible cross section of big time match-ups in different classifications and corners of the mid-state. Now that’s not to say that I’m going to ignore the bigger, more obvious match-ups. I’m not. But I also won’t ignore the smaller programs that’s passion is equal to and sometimes outshines some of their bigger school counterparts.
It’s important for me to point out that I couldn’t do this column and no one on this site could bring you any of this coverage without sponsors that care about their communities and care about high school football. One of those businesses is Brentwood Hearing Center, You will see me write about them and hear (pun intended) me talk about them throughout the 2019 season. They will also be the presenting sponsor of our first ever series of “Games of the Week” that starts tonight with Lebanon @ Gallatin. With that, it’s on with the list. Here are my Top 5 Games of the Week in the mid-state for Week 1.
1) MBA @ Brentwood
Big time public vs. private match-up tonight in Williamson Co. as D-II-AAA powerhouse MBA takes on 6A stalwart Brentwood. Both of these teams will be very well coached by their respective “old school” ball coaches. And I say that as a compliment. Both Marty Euverard of MBA and Ron Crawford of Brentwood take a no nonsense approach and are great teachers of the game. Brentwood has the edge in returning starters (9 on defense) and they have the luxury of bringing back excellent skill players on offense like QB Cade Granzow (Jr.) and speedy wide receiver Walker Merrill (Jr.). But MBA is still MBA. And even though they have to replace some big time FBS level talent on both sides of the ball and only return 7 of 22 starters, they are a program that seemingly always continues to plug right along. This is also an early season opportunity for D-II-AAA to flex some muscle and show why they are the “SEC” of high school football in the state.
2) Lebanon @ Gallatin
Our first ever “TN High School Football Game of the Week” heads to Sumner Co. as two tradition rich high school football towns do battle in Week 1. Gallatin is under the direction of new Head Coach Chad Watson who heads to the storied program after a successful stint at Clarksville Northeast. Watson takes over a team that made the playoffs at 5-5 a year ago but suffered a first round exit at the hands of Shelbyville. He returns 7 starters on defense and only 4 on offense as the Green Wave try to implement OC Nathan Wilson’s Spread Attack. Lebanon is a program that enters the season with a lot of momentum but also a lot of question marks. The momentum comes from turning the corner in Chuck Gentry’s second season with an 8-2 regular season in 2018. The questions come from having to replace some big time seniors including current Georgia Bulldog Zion Logue. This should be an entertaining match-up with an incredible atmosphere. These towns get after it when it comes to high school football. Will Boling and Jonathan Parks will do an excellent job bringing you the action tonight on this site, Facebook Live, and 104.5 The Zone.
3) Trousdale Co. @ Friendship Christian
Friendship Christian made it all the way to the Blue Cross Bowl a year ago but came up a game short of a state championship when they lost to Davidson Academy. Most programs would take that season in a heartbeat and not worry about the outcome. But Friendship isn’t most programs. They decided to add a brand new field turf surface to their football facility and they will debut that brand new field in tonight’s clash with 2A power Trousdale Co. The Commanders return 15 starters including two-way studs Justin Seagraves (RB/LB) and Ryan Jackson (OL/DL). Coach John McNeal is in his 28th year at the Lebanon school and always has his teams ready. On the flip side, Blake Satterfield will be roaming the sideline in his first game as Trousdale Co. Head Coach. The good news for Satterfield is the he returns 6 starters on both offense and defense to a team that made it all the way to the 2A State Championship Game a year ago. Buckle up for a good one tonight on Coles Ferry Pike.
4) Page @ Fairview
The Battle of 8-40 rarely disappoints. The two “rural-est” or “most rural” public schools in a chic county that prides itself on their sports programs so much that they have refused access for this site to stream games from their schools (another column for another day) squares off tonight in a classic rivalry game. Page returns half their starters off of a team that went 10-2 and reached the 2nd Round of the 5A Playoffs. Sr. Cade Walker returns at QB and Bubba Johnson (Sr.) will be a force in the running game for the Patriots. It doesn’t matter if Fairview HC Chris Hughes is quarterbacking a flag football team or coaching a high school football team, he is usually winning. The Yellow Jackets head man is 90-31 in his 10 seasons at Fairview and they are showing no signs of slowing down this year as they return 13 starters off a team that made it all the way to the 3A Quarterfinals a year ago.
5) Oakland @ Hendersonville
Tonight’s game is a rematch of last year’s 6A 2nd Round match-up between these two teams. Hendersonville lost and their season ended. Oakland went on to win the 6A State Championship. The Commandos will be looking to find some playmakers and solid contributors to an offense that only returns 2 starters but 2nd year HC James Beasley showed in his first year that he is going to maximize his roster. Oakland returns an almost unfair 8 players to a defense that was already one of the best in the state. The challenge for HC Kevin Creasy will be replacing 8 starters on offense. But something tells me the Patriots will be just fine.
Be safe and have fun out there tonight. Happy Football Season!