By John Thornton:
West TN Game of the Week- Week 8 Bartlett vs. Arlington
To say the least 2020 has been a strange year. With many teams having to cancel games or entire seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, region standings around the state have looked very different than they normally would. No area in Tennessee has been hit harder than the greater Memphis metro area, due to the decision by Shelby County Schools to indefinitely postpone their season. For the handful of schools that have decided to press on, their schedule and path to the playoffs certainly have changed dramatically.
New opportunities have opened in 6A football in the Memphis area, as the likes of Bartlett and Arlington eye deep playoff runs for the first time in years. While Bartlett has gotten off to a scorching hot start, Arlington is among many teams in the state looking for crucial region wins to turn their season around and springboard a playoff run.
Year 2 of the Lance Tucker era at Bartlett has gotten off to a blazing start for the Panthers. Despite a late start and seeing 2 games get canceled due to COVID outbreaks, Bartlett has quietly been putting together a very impressive resume. After a season-opening loss to 2019 Division II-AA State Runner-Up CPA, the Panthers went on the road to perennial Division II-AAA power Christian Brothers and picked up a 22-19 win. Since that game, Bartlett has won the ensuing 3 games in a row by an average of 23 points per game to sit at 6-1 overall on the season.
Arlington has had a roller coaster ride of a season to get to their 4-3 record on the year. After missing the postseason a year ago, Coach Adam Sykes is looking to get this program its first playoff win since 2014. After a 3-1 start to the year which included a COVID win, the Tigers dropped back-to-back contests to MUS and Houston, before bouncing back last week with a 42-16 beat down of Brighton. A high scoring offense has been the engine of this team, as the Tigers have averaged 47 points per game in their 3 wins on the field this year.
Neither of these teams has won Region 7 of Class 6A since reclassification, as Houston and Cordova have both been very good football teams. This season Cordova is not playing due to the Shelby County Schools’ decision, and Houston is experiencing a bit of a down season, which leaves the door open for the winner of this game to possibly go on to a region crown.
Arlington traditionally has dominated the series, holding an 11-3 record over the years. However, Bartlett rolled to a 42-0 beatdown last season. Arlington will look to avenge that defeat when the Panthers come calling at Arlington High School on Friday evening at 7 p.m.