By Chad Withrow:
It’s been quite the week. The state’s NFL team became the first NFL team to force a postponement because of positive COVID-19 tests and multiple mid-state high school games have been canceled for the same reason. We all knew this season wouldn’t be a cake walk but it doesn’t make things any easier when you are living inside the uncertainty. There were games that would have been under heavy consideration for my Top 5 that aren’t happening and there’s nothing positive to pull from that fact. There is a positive to pull out of the resourcefulness on display from area coaches and administrators. Where two good games disappear, one truly great match-up emerges (See: My #1 game of the week). Where one team can’t play, another gets an opportunity to travel to a part of the state they otherwise would never visit for a high school football game. High School Football has been a terrific escape for many this season and the games have served up a great reward for players working hard to prepare each and every week. Tip of the cap to everyone that’s making a go of it in 2020. I salute you. I also salute this week’s Top 5 which features a bit of everything. Without further ado, here is my Friday Five in the mid-state for Week 7.
1) Oakland (6-0) @ Brentwood (4-1)
The 104.5 The Zone Game of the Week is an absolute blockbuster. So much so, that we had no choice but to reverse course on plan’s for another game when this one was announced. We were originally scheduled to broadcast the Brentwood-Independence game before Independence was forced to cancel. Oakland was scheduled to play Blackman before the Blaze were forced to pull out of this week’s game. The result is 2 of the 5 or 6 teams in all of 6A capable of hoisting a gold ball in Cookeville in December squaring off in Williamson Co. Cade Granzow is a capable dual threat QB for the Bruins that has good size and can push the ball downfield with his arm. Vandy commitment John Howse is a big time receiving option as well as the team leader in interceptions on defense. For Kevin Creasy and Oakland, it’s more of the same. Great talent in every position group and a team that knows their identity: Physicality. The Patriots want to mash you by running the football and Brentwood Academy transfer Jordan James is one of the top running backs in the nation for the Class of ’22. James recently released a Top 4 consisting of Alabama, Georgia, Florida St., and Tennessee. Not bad. And neither is this match-up.
Donovan Stewart included this game in his Statewide Games of the Week.
2) Pearl-Cohn (1-0) @ East Nashville (1-0)
This is more than likely a Region 5-3A Championship Game tonight. Pearl-Cohn returns a bunch of starters off a team that made it all the way to the State Championship Game a year ago. It took some good running from Iven Dayton in OT to get past Hillsboro in a low scoring slugfest but I think that game showed the rust that a lot of Metro schools are facing because of the late start to their season. New East Nashville Head Coach Jamaal Stewart is 1-0 in his young head coaching career after a 51-6 win over Maplewood. Sr. QB Kwanzee Jemison and a group of veteran and talented receivers are looking to make Coach Stewart 2-0 and earn a signature win early in his tenure. Jonathan Hutton, Josh Corey, and Max Herz will be on the call for this one on MyTV30’s “Friday Night Rivals” Game of the Week.
3) Pope John Paul II (5-1) @ MBA (3-0)
Two of the top 3 teams in DII-AAA-West Region square off on West End tonight as the Big Red of MBA host the Knights of Pope John Paul II. Coach Justin Geisinger is doing a remarkable job with this program and QB Sawyer Watts and RB and Wisconsin commitment Antwan Roberts make a powerful backfield duo. That duo combined with an opportunistic defense has the Knights sitting at 5-1 on the season. COVID-19 restrictions in Davidson Co. forced MBA to start their season late but they have looked great in jumping out to a 3-0 record with all of those wins coming against tough DII-AAA competition (MUS, Briarcrest, Ensworth). MBA knew they had the potential for something special when Marcel Reed began starting at QB as a freshman. We can all now confirm that they have something very special as Reed has continued his stellar play to start his Sophomore season. The son of TSU Head Coach Rod Reed has a very bright future and an exciting present in front of him. Marty Euverard teams always outplay their talent level and that’s a testament to his coaching ability. This over achieving Big Red team is no different. But they will get a huge test from Pope tonight in a game that will go a long way in deciding who wins this Region.
4) Livingston Academy (5-1) @ DeKalb Co. (3-3)
2019 was a historic season for Coach Steve Trapp and his DeKalb Co. Tigers as they advanced to the State Quarterfinals for the first time in school history. The 2020 Tigers were picked to win the Region based on last year’s success and the fact they returned 17 starters off of that team led by players like Axel Aldino (QB, Sr.), Tyzaun Ladet (WR/DB, Sr.), Desmond Nokes (WR/DB, Sr.), Evan Jones (TE/DE, Sr.), TJ Alexander (WR/DB, Sr.), Caven Ponder (OL/DL, Sr.), Isaac Knowles (WR/DB, Jr.), Nathaniel Crook (RB/LB, Jr.), Colby Barnes (RB/DE, Soph.), and Peyton Leaf (OL/DL, Sr.). But it’s been tough sledding for DeKalb Co. with losses to Warren Co, Upperman, and Watertown. Even with those losses, a Week 3 win over Stone Memorial (Picked 2nd in Region) has the Tigers thinking about grabbing that top seed out of Region 3-4A. Livingston Academy has been rock solid in 2020 racing out to a 5-1 record with great wins over Upperman and Stone Memorial already behind them. The Wildcat defense has been especially rock solid allowing only 10ppg. Led by Nathan Carwile (TE/MLB, Sr.), Austin Reeder (DT, Sr.), Raven Carpenter (WR/DB, Sr.), Carson Smith (LG/DE, Sr.), Bryer Mosley (WR/DB, Sr.), Dexter Wright (G/DE, Sr.), Kaleb Robinson (RB/LB, Sr.), Ethan Romanscik (OL/DT, Sr.), Jordan Brown (OL/DT, Sr.), and Parker Coleman (QB/DB, Sr.), this Livingston team could be a special one in 2020.
5) Beech (4-1) @ Hillsboro (0-1)
There has been some back and forth between these two about where this game would be played this week but the bottom line is that it’s Hillsboro’s home game and even though they don’t currently have a home field, they get to ultimately decide. So this game will be played at Overton High School in front of no spectators because of Metro Nashville Public Schools regulations. The Hillsboro offense led by former NFL QB Zach Mettenberger got off to a shaky start a week ago as they were only able to score after starting at the 10 yard line in OT. But some rust and uneven play was to be expected after Metro schools were forced to sit on the sideline as long as they were because of decisions made that were out of their control. A great Pearl-Cohn team was also scoreless in that game at the end of regulation. Led by players like Onterrio Crowell (OLB/SS, Sr.), Eric Liggett (OL/DL, Sr.), Jalan Macon (QB, Sr.), Jacob Hood (OL, Sr.), Jaelyn Patterson (DB, Sr.), Simon Robertson (LB/FB Sr.), Mikeece Jones (DB/WR, Jr.), Chris Savage (DT, Jr.), Desmond Henderson (LB/FB, Sr.), Davien Hill (DB/WR, Sr.), Adrian Huey (DB, Sr., Kentucky commitment), and Kolby Phillips (DB, Sr., Tulane commitment), I think Hillsboro will figure things out as they get their legs under them. It’s also tough to get your legs under you against a program like Beech. Beech has been Beech once again in 2020. After an opening night loss to a very good Powell team on the road in Knoxville, the Buccaneers have systematically dispatched of Henry Co, LaVergne, and Hendersonville. Their next test comes tonight but led by the rushing of Tysean Jefferson (RB, Sr.), I think the Bucs will be just fine.
Have a great and safe Football Friday night.
Happy Football, Everyone.