After a crazy first round of the playoffs, it is now onto round two. The first week presented some upsets, but now is the time to figure out who are contenders and who are pretenders.
Riverdale vs. Oakland (Neutral Site)
Rivalries are always intense, competitive, and gritty games, but in the playoffs, it only gets better. Two local high schools face off in a matchup to determine who is superior in Rutherford County. Oakland dismantled William Blount in round one while Riverdale squeaked past a very tough Bradley Central team. These teams faced off in the regular season and Oakland had their way and dominated the second half, outscoring the Warriors 28-6. However, momentum could be brewing after Riverdale’s win. Sometimes the tough victories may result in a tougher team and Riverdale will have to be physical with Oakland if they want to walk away with the W. This game could be determined on who strikes first, and how the other deals with adversity.
Siegel at Blackman
Rutherford County is always known for great football but even the three-win Siegel Stars came away with a victory last week. However, their dreams could be crushed by the more powerful Blackman Blaze. The Blaze have been just as dominant as Oakland this year and they walked all over their opponent last week, 56-10. They will be looking to do more of the same when Siegel comes down the road. Siegel will have to be quick and elusive on offense and powerful on defense. The Blaze’s offense is so dynamic and multidimensional. Look for Blackman to break something out of the playbook that the Stars haven’t seen all year to catch them off guard. Ultimately, the Blaze should advance to round three but never count out the Stars either.
Wilson Central at Franklin
No one expected Wilson Central to make it past Cordova in round one, but now they travel to Franklin for round two and a rematch. Franklin won by a 22 point margin against Houston last week and a 27 point margin against Central earlier this season. The Wildcats will travel with the taste off revenge, but Franklin knows what they are capable of. For Wilson Central, they key will be to mix it up. They need to open up the playbook and not rely on the run so heavily. For Franklin, need to rely on the run. It has been very impressive and the big men up front are leading the charge. As a counter, look for the Wildcats to bring in Nathaniel Seat for run defense and set the edge to prevent big plays. This should be a smash mouth, physical game and one closer than the previous.
Hendersonville at Independence
Two powerhouse schools clash in just the second round of the playoffs. Both schools are constantly in contention for the state title, but unfortunately, one school will be sent home earlier than expected. Hendersonville is not going to back down from the undefeated Eagles. They have every intention to walk into their house and take care of business. Independence must respect Hendersonville because this could be there toughest test all season. The Commandos will establish the run early and often. Then, they will attack with play-action for explosive plays. Independence must be able to contain the run and be prepared for an occasional pass. This game rests solely on defensive play and which team can contain the others offense.
Beech at Hillsboro
Beech travels to Hillsboro for yet another rematch between two very tough teams. In the first match up, Hillsboro edged the Buccaneers 21-17 but now Beech is the 3 point favorite entering round two. Beech’s success has continued, even with the departure of Jalen Hurd two years ago. Hillsboro must have offensive success throughout the entire game. They’ve been inconsistent at times and go through hot and cold streaks throughout games. The key for Beech is their secondary support. The front seven has always been solid but they need the secondary’s help if they want to advance. Expect a low-scoring, very close matchup and whichever team is victorious will have earned it.
To contact Interim Sports Editor Connor Ulrey, email firstname.lastname@example.org.