By Chad Withrow:
It’s the Metro Nashville edition of the Friday Five this week and I couldn’t be happier. There are plenty of great storylines and games this week from MBA @ Ensworth to Springfield @ Marshall Co. But all of those storylines pale in comparison to the long awaited return of Metro football. After weeks of political back and forth and protests, Metro Nashville Public Schools are finally allowed to put on their game uniforms and play someone that’s not their own classmates under the Friday Night Lights. For some, this will be their first opportunity to play high school football. For others, it may be their last 5 or 6 games to wear any football uniform at all. And for a select few, it’s a chance to put forth game film that could earn them a college scholarship and a chance to better themselves and their future. Regardless, it’s football time in Nashville tonight and I’m excited to tell you about some of these teams and match-ups. Without any further build-up, here is the long awaited Friday Five for Week 6 (Metro style).
1) Hillsboro (0-0) @ Pearl-Cohn (o-0)
The MyTV30 “Friday Night Rivals” Game of the Week is a battle between two of the three best Metro programs of the last 20 years. Maurice Fitzgerald leads Hillsboro against his former team and goes for win #146 in his legendary career. He also welcomes former Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger as his new OC. Mettenberger was a tall, big armed QB and he will be guiding one this season in 6:5 Sr. Jalen Macon who returns after passing for 1,148 yards and 10 TDs as a Junior. Macon is hoping a strong showing in this shortened 2020 season will lead to more FBS offers to go with those he has already received from Kansas, Tulane, and Akron.
The Burros return 10 starters from last year’s 5-5 team that lost in the 1st Round of the 5A Playoffs. Adrian Huey (DB, Sr., Kentucky commitment) and Kolby Phillips (DB, Sr., Tulane commitment) lead a super talented Hillsboro secondary and Eric Liggett (OL/DL, Sr.), Jacob Hood (OL, Sr.), and Chris Savage (DT, Jr.) will help form a stout offensive and defensive front. It was more of the same for Tony Brunetti and his Pearl-Cohn Firebirds a year ago: A stellar regular season and postseason run that saw his team get to 14-0 before falling to Alcoa in the 3A State Championship Game. Many teams have felt the wrath of Alcoa for years but many have been feeling the wrath of these talented Pearl teams as well. Brunetti has won 128 games in his 14 years and has continued an already strong legacy of athletic excellence for the Firebirds. This team returns 17 starters from last year’s state runner-up and is poised for another shot at a state championship in Cookeville. Star power isn’t a problem for Pearl-Cohn. Big OT William Griffin-Parker is headed to play his college ball at Tennessee and is an emotional leader for this team. Kyndrich Breedlove (WR/DB, Sr., Ole Miss commitment) and Iven Dayton (5:5, 155, Sr.) are a powerful 1-2 punch of offensive skill. And that’s all before we get to 6:2 Sr. QB Martino Owens who happened to pass for 2,033 yards and 28 TDs a year ago. So yeah. Pearl-Cohn is very good.
2) Cane Ridge (0-0) @ Overton (0-0)
The story of Cane Ridge do-it-all defensive back KC Beard is one that has been told by those working feverishly to make sure a season happened for Metro Nashville. That list includes Blake Beddingfield, former Director of college scouting for the Tennessee Titans. Beard is a great student and a great player that needed this season desperately in order to insure himself a football scholarship. The Ivy League has come calling and it’s important for him to have senior film. That film starts tonight. You can see our interview with KC and teammate Michael Diatta as well as Buck Fitzgerald of National Playmakers Academy below.
Cane Ridge comes in with high hopes as they return 15 of 22 starters off a 7-3 team that lost to Ravenwood in the 2nd Round of last year’s 6A Playoffs. Head Coach Eddie Woods has done an amazing job with the Antioch program and this may be one of his best teams yet. Xayvion Clemmons returns at QB after passing for over 2,000 yards a year ago and he has some great targets in Tyroid Good (5:11, 175), Quentin Barnes (6:3, 205) and the aforementioned Beard who will play both ways and see time at WR and DB. Quanterious Lusk, Camrynn Pleasant, and Michael Diatta will lead the way on defense. Overton Head Coach Cole Peeples is hoping for a better 2nd season than his 1st where his Bobcats finished 1-9. That should be the case as a very young Overton team from a year ago comes back with 17 returning starters. Leadership will be key for this team and they should have that in seniors Robert Corbin (DB/WR, Sr.), Mycheal Yates (RB/LB, Sr.), Jabarius Wynn (LB/RB, Sr.), EJ Ford (SS/TE, Sr.), Thedrick Harris (LB, Sr.), Olin Felt (OL/DL, Sr.), Cannon Carpenter (WR/DB, Sr.), and Eliel Hernandez (OL/DL, Sr.). Mix in junior contributors Jacob Dalrymple (OL/DL, Jr.), Zack Baker (SS/RB, Sr.), and Abdi Ali (OL/DL, Jr.) along with talented sophomore Jevon Edmonson (SS/WR) and Overton should see that win total climb even with fewer games to play in 2020.
3) Maplewood (0-0) @ East Nashville (0-0)
Maplewood Head Coach Arcentae Broome begins his 11th season at the north Nashville school with depth being an issue on his roster. He only returns 8 starters from last year’s 3-7 team that went on to lose to Livingston Academy in the 1st Round of the 4A Playoffs. But Coach Broome has learned how to become resourceful with his roster over the years at Maplewood and he will do so again in 2020. The Panthers do return veteran QB Anthony Johnson as well as quality receivers Winston Pettus (5:10, 170, Sr.), James Smith (5:10, 180, Sr.), Marzeieon Jones (6:1, 165, Sr.), and Laterius Fitts (5:11, 185, Sr.). Leading rusher David Southerland (5:11, 195) also returns for his senior season after leading the team on the ground each of the last 3 seasons. The offense should be a strength for the Panthers. It was a longer wait than Jamaal Stewart would have hoped to see his first game as Head Coach at East Nashville, but he gets a chance to debut his revamped Eagles tonight. The good news is they return over half their starters on offense from a team that went 8-2 a year ago before falling to eventual state runner-up Pearl-Cohn by only 9 points in the 2nd round of the Playoffs. Sr. QB Kwanzee Jemison is back after throwing for 1,153 yards and 11 TDs last season. He also rushed for 594 yards and 7 TDs. TJ Gordon (6:2, 180, Sr.) and Willie Wilson (5:10, 170, Jr.) are back as reliable pass catching targets along with leading rusher Rontavious Gregory (5:9, 190, Sr.). Scoring points won’t be a problem for the Eagles. Jacoby Leatherwood (6:2, 220, Sr.) will lead the defense from his MLB spot and has received offers from Appalachian St., Arkansas St., Ball St., TSU, and Austin Peay among others.
4) McGavock (0-0) @ Hillwood (0-0)
McGavock and Head Coach Jay Gore have a tough road ahead as they attempt to replace all but 4 starters from last year’s 3-7 team that lost in the 1st Round of the 6A Playoffs. The good news is the veteran coach knows a thing or two about rebuilding as he enters his 11th season coaching the Raiders. The QB position is a big unknown for this team but whoever ends up taking snaps will do so behind an offensive line with some experience led by seniors Charles Cross (6:0, 255) and Cameron Quinn (6:0, 300). Hillwood and 2nd year Head Coach Tom Moore are hoping to improve upon the Toppers 4-6 record in 2019. To do so, they will need to rely on a defense that returns 8 starters from a squad that only gave up 20 ppg last season. Strong line play contributed to that statistic and two-way players Daniel Abgoto (6:1, 255, Sr.), Gabe Walker (6:4, 270), and Chance Nduwifara (6:1, 225, Sr.) are back to provide a stout front on both sides of the ball. If Hillwood can figure things out at the QB position, then they could be a pleasant surprise in the 5A ranks.
5) Stratford (0-0) @ Hunters Lane (0-0)
The Stratford Spartans welcome back over half their starters on both sides of the ball in Thomas Porter’s 3rd season at the helm of the East Nashville program. The Spartans finished 7-3 a year ago and advanced to the 2nd round of the playoffs before falling 17-14 to Giles Co. Samuel Armstead (6:5, 215, Sr.) possesses the size and the skill set to be a breakout star for the Spartans in his senior season and he has an abundance of talented skill position players to distribute the ball to in 2020. Seniors D’Arco Perkins-McCalister (6:0, 185), Maarkeese Groves (6:0, 170), Drequan Gills (6:1, 185), Jacob Webb (5:10, 190), and Steven Otis (5:9, 200) should make moving the ball relatively easy. Preston Scott enters his 2nd year as Hunters Lane Head Coach with some optimism as the Warriors return 11 starters. It’s an uphill climb in their tough 5A Region surrounded by the likes of Beech, Gallatin, and Hillsboro but that’s exactly what the Warriors are hoping to accomplish after a year spent trying to figure out how to properly fine tune and deploy their talent. And there is talent on this roster. A’shun Motley (6:2, 195, Sr.) returns at QB and is surrounded by leaders on both lines of scrimmage. Marvin Hunter-Bayless (5:11, 254, Sr.), Malik Lea (5:10, 190), and Nate Hampton (5:11, 270) are those leaders.
It’s going to be great to get to see these teams finally compete tonight.
Happy Football, Everyone.