Football season reaches title-game stage

Douglas Fritz • Updated Nov 27, 2017 at 6:37 PM

Football season has come down to one game for six public-school teams.

And there are some strong favorites in Thursday and Friday's title games in Cookeville.

Class 6A

Maryville had to prove itself under first-year head coach Derek Hunt. And the Rebels did it with Friday's 31-28 win over Murfreesboro Oakland, the only team that had beaten the Rebels this year.

It was Oakland that succumbed to the pressure. The Patriots threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in the final quarter.

So return Maryville to the role of favorite against Cane Ridge, which won its last two playoff games by a combined tightrope total of 10 points.

Class 5A

This figures to be the most highly competitive of the six finals.

Knox Catholic, a private school still among the public ranks, is only the slightest of an underdog against undefeated and top-ranked Hendersonville Beech.

Catholic has three losses, but it should be noted all of them came against teams that still have shots at state titles (Maryville, Brentwood Academy, and Georgia’s Eagles Landing Christian Academy).

Class 4A

Greeneville is probably the strongest favorite in any classification.

The Greene Devils' comeback from a 21-0 deficit against Anderson County in the quarterfinals will likely be remembered as the catalyst to a third state title.

Springfield (11-3) has a 49-point loss on its resume (to Beech), and has won four playoff games by a combined total of just 22 points.

Class 3A

Like Greeneville, Covington overcame a 21-0 deficit to win a playoff game. The Chargers did it in the semifinals against favorite Pearl-Cohn.

However, Covington is unlikely to be able to handle Alcoa — which seeks its third straight state title and its fourth in the last five years.

Class 2A

Tyner lost its first two games, but hasn’t tasted defeat since. But the Rams path was made easier with Meigs County’s upset at the hands of Rockwood, and Tyner knocked off Rockwood in the semifinals.

On the other side, Union City enters as a strong favorite after blasting private-school Columbia Academy 35-7 in the semifinals.

Class 1A

It’s hard not to like Greenback as the favorite. The Cherokees were 2-0 against Coalfield and 1-0 against South Pittsburg. Those two teams were 24-0 against everybody else.

Cornersville is from the southern middle part of Tennessee, so it’s hard to gauge the level of competition. However, the 21-20 quarterfinal win over Huntingdon was stout.

Mr. Football honors

Greeneville’s Cade Ballard earned the Class 4A Mr. Football honor on Monday, and it was well deserved.

The Greene Devils’ quarterback has some staggering numbers. He has totaled 2,930 yards passing and 864 rushing while accounting for 51 total touchdowns.

In Class 1A, Coalfield’s Parker McKinney earned the award. McKinney helped his team eliminate Cloudland from the playoffs in the second round.

Showdown Friday

Right off the bat, there are four rivalry games for the first day of boys’ basketball conference action.

At the head of the class is Science Hill playing host to Dobyns-Bennett.

Here’s a sneak peek at each game:

Indians vs. Hilltoppers — Science Hill is 5-2, but both losses are against out-of-state opponents. The Indians are 4-2 after returning from a tournament in the Bahamas.

There’s a lot of mystery in the matchup, but look for the Indians to make it very interesting for four quarters.

Daniel Boone at David Crockett — The Pioneers have earned wins over Johnson County and Unicoi County, both of which look good on the resume.

Boone lost to Unicoi, but hammered Crockett 67-49 in their Hardee’s Classic meeting last week.

Johnson County at Elizabethton — This is a nice test for both teams. The Longhorns are 3-2 with losses to Science Hill and Crockett while the Cyclones are 0-2 after losing by one point to Cherokee and 43 points to Morristown East.

Happy Valley at Unicoi County — The Blue Devils bounced back with three Hardee’s wins after the surprising loss to Crockett. They are 5-1 and already own a 37-point win over the Warriors.

Signing dates

David Crockett’s Austin Lewis and Elizabethton’s Cameron Coleman will take advantage of the NCAA’s new December signing date for football.

Lewis will sign with Liberty University on Dec. 20 at the high school. Coleman will make it official with Furman University on Dec. 20 at the Beef O’Brady’s in Elizabethton.

Basketball rankings

Science Hill remains the clear-cut No. 1 in this week’s High School Top 10:

Team (W-L) — Prv

1. Science Hill (5-2) — 1

2. Dobyns-Bennett (4-2) — 2

3. Unicoi County (5-1) — 3

4. Daniel Boone (3-2) — 7

5. David Crockett (4-2) — 4

6. Sullivan East (4-3) — 9

7. Sullivan Central (3-2) — 5

8. Tennessee High (2-2) — 6

9. Johnson County (3-2) — 8

10. Cherokee (3-1) — 10

It’s still Daniel Boone leading the way in the jumbled girls rankings:

Team (W-L)

1. Daniel Boone (4-0) — 1

2. Science Hill (6-0) — 2

3. Sullivan Central (2-0) — 6

4. Cherokee (4-1) — 8

5. Dobyns-Bennett (3-3) — 3

6. Cloudland (6-1) — NR

7. Unaka (5-2) — 10

8. Sullivan East (4-4) — 7

9. North Greene (6-0) — NR

10. Happy Valley (1-2) — 5

(tie) Unicoi County (2-2) — 9

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