By John Thornton:
West TN Game of the Week- Week 13 Covington at Milan
In any sport, the postseason is where the wheat is cut from the chaff, and the great teams rise above the rest of the field to become champions. The month of November is just that time period for the TSSAA High School Football Playoffs.
Most teams in West Tennessee had a bye week in the 1st round of the playoffs due to Shelby County Schools canceling football season for the majority of schools in the Memphis Metro Area. With that bye week in effect, most teams in the western part of the state will see familiar regional foes for the second time this season on Friday night, with seasons on the line. As everyone knows, revenge can be a major motivating factor, and beating a team twice in one season is a tough thing to do.
Numerous great matchups dot the landscape in West Tennessee this week. In Class 1A, Greenfield seeks revenge on West Carroll who spoiled the Yellow Jackets’ undefeated season with a 33-14 win on October 30. In 2A, McKenzie prepares to host Adamsville, who upset the Rebels 23-17 in overtime 2 weeks ago. At the 4A level, Haywood and Dyersburg prepare to meet for the 1st time all season, after the 1st meeting was canceled due to COVID-19 cases in the Trojan program. Meanwhile, in 5A, Brighton will attempt to pull off their second straight upset as they head to Henry County fresh off a 48-28 win over Dyer County last week. These are just a few of the fantastic matchups to watch this week, but none will be better than the rematch between Covington and Milan.
Coach Carl Diffee has Milan red hot in his first year in charge. Led by Class of 2022 3-star athlete Anthony Brown, the Bulldog offense has engineered 9 straight wins since a seasoning opening defeat to reigning Class 2A state champion Peabody. While the Bulldogs sit pretty at 9-1 and champions of Region 7-3A, it nearly was all wiped out. Allegations of Milan playing 2 ineligible players this season emerged 2 weeks ago, putting the Bulldogs season in doubt. With the TSSAA clearing Milan, the Bulldogs now set their eyes on the ultimate prize of a state title.
Revenge is at the forefront of Covington’s minds entering this game. A 6-0 start to the season was derailed by a 14-7 triple-overtime loss to Milan back on October 2 and was followed by a narrow 22-21 defeat at the hands of South Gibson, sending Covington to the #3 seed of Region 7-3A. But Coach J.R. Kirby knew his team’s ultimate goal was not winning a region title, but a state title. A loss Friday would be the first time since 2017 that the Chargers would not have advanced to the Semi-Finals. To make a return to the state title game Covington will have to avenge the earlier season loss to Milan.
This will be the 18th all-time meeting between the schools with Milan leading the series 10-7. This will be the 5th time the programs have met in the playoffs, with Covington winning the last postseason meeting in 2018 22-0. The winner of this game is highly expected to make a push for the State Championship game and potentially knock off 5-time reigning 3A state champion Alcoa. If the last meeting was any indication, expect a physical defensive slugfest that will come down to the wire at Johnnie Hale Stadium.