The season has only just begun. It is now playoff time in Tennessee. For the losers, there is no more “next week.” The chase is officially on for the title of High School State Champions. First, they need to advance past round one if they want to make it to the big finale.
William Blount at Oakland
Oakland enters the game as a powerhouse and a threat to win it all. They have been dominant all season and nearly completed a perfect record. William Blount has a tremendous challenge in front of them. The key to victory will be time of possession. If William Blount can keep the ball away from Oakland’s powerful offense, they stand a chance at an upset. However, with Oakland being at home, it appears very unlikely. Oakland will stay with what they know best and should cruise to the second round.
Dobyns-Bennett at Blackman
Blackman is another dominant team who is expected to make a deep run into the postseason. However, they shouldn’t get too far ahead of themselves. They host a Dobyns-Bennett team that is better than their record shows. They enter the match up ranked as a top 50 team in the state. They start fast and finish strong. They have the ability to score quickly and if Blackman isn’t prepared, they could falter. Despite the possibility, Blackman still enters with the odds on their side. Blackman’s key to victory is to run the ball. They average over 250 yards on the ground so that should pave the way to victory.
Cane Ridge at Independence
Independence comes in completing an undefeated season. Cane Ridge is hoping to make it one and done for the Eagles in the playoffs. It is easier said than done. The key for Cane Ridge will be in the trenches. If they can win the battle at the line of scrimmage and beat Independence to the point of attack, they could walk away with the W. Likewise, it is the same story for the Eagles. They have won the battle in the trenches all season long and it has allowed them to come this far. This will be a highly competitive game and could be a nail-biter.
Shelbyville Central at Hendersonville
This is an intriguing matchup. Hendersonville is 5-0 at home and Shelbyville Central is 5-0 on the road. Something has to give there. Hendersonville will rely heavily on running the ball. It can be predictable at times. Whereas, Shelbyville Central is more balanced and averages 150 yards through the air and on the ground. That balance could be the ultimate factor for victory. Hendersonville will need to control the clock and manage the game on their own terms. This is a matchup that could very well come down to coaching rather than talent on the field.
Southwind at Centennial
Both of these teams completed a very solid season but only one will be able to continue on. This is another matchup where Southwind is undefeated when traveling and Centennial is undefeated at home. This could be a shootout in the making with two explosive offenses. Southwind averages 36 points a game, while Centennial averages 31. The key for Centennial is to control the game at their pace, or keep up with Southwind. Likewise, if Southwind can jump out to an early lead, don’t expect them to ever look back. Centennial is at home though, so we’ll see if the crowd factors tonight.
To contact Interim Sports Editor Connor Ulrey, email firstname.lastname@example.org.