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Hilltoppers land at home for playoffs

Douglas Fritz • Oct 27, 2018 at 5:42 PM

Science Hill’s football team came up smiling Friday night.

In a week where it had no game, the Hilltoppers got one of their biggest wins of the season. Knox Farragut’s 28-0 squashing of Hardin Valley lifted Science Hill into a second-place finish in Region 1-6A.

The Hilltoppers (5-5) grabbed a home playoff game against Bradley Central (7-3) and avoided an extremely difficult road trip to face perennial state-title contender Maryville. All first-round games are scheduled for kickoff at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Bradley Central is no slouch, having outscored its opponents 311-184, but the Bears were blown out by Farragut (34-0) and lost by one point to Ooltewah (28-27). Science Hill beat Ooltewah and lost by just two points to Farragut, so there’s reason for optimism in the Hilltoppers’ camp.

There were two negative parts about the Hilltoppers’ bracket. First, a victory means the dreaded trip to Maryville likely awaits in round two. Second, a third-place finish — although requiring a first-round road trip to Ooltewah — would likely have given the Hilltoppers a better chance of reaching the quarterfinals.

In the top bracket, Farragut will play host to Cleveland, and Ooltewah meets Hardin Valley. Maryville’s first-round opponent is Knox Bearden, which sunk all the way to fourth place in Region 1 despite the league’s second-best overall record at 8-2.

Here’s a look at how things stack up for Region 1 in the rest of the classifications.

Class 5A

David Crockett landed in a nice spot in the bracket, a place the Pioneers earned with a 10-0 regular season.

The first step will be against Knoxville Halls, a team that won only three games on the field and those opponents combined for a record of 7-23. Halls’ fourth credited win was originally a 35-0 defeat to Knox Powell that was changed by a forfeit.

In Crockett’s bracket are South-Doyle (7-3) and Tennessee High (7-3). The Vikings took Crockett into overtime earlier this year while the Cherokees’ three losses are against quality teams: Bearden (8-2), Knox Central (8-2) and Powell (2-8 with six wins erased by forfeit).

Meanwhile, Daniel Boone drew Corryton Gibbs, which was dusted 55-28 by Crockett earlier this year. Gibbs won six in a row after that loss, but was crushed 46-0 by Knox Central on Friday night. Central will play Cocke County in the opening round.

Class 4A

Elizabethton will be at home to meet Chattanooga Howard, which comes in with a 5-4 record but also a four-game winning streak.

In the bracket with the Cyclones are Anderson County (10-0) and Union County. The Mavericks ended Elizabethton’s season last year in the second round and are ranked No. 2 in the state.

Top-ranked and defending state champion Greeneville will play host to East Hamilton. The Greene Devils are in a bracket with Sullivan South, which travels to face Chattanooga Central. The Rebels know this journey, suffering a 45-42 first-round loss to the Purple Pounders last year.

Class 3A

Johnson County will be at home, but the Longhorns may get a challenge right off the bat. Gatlinburg-Pittman is 6-4 against a schedule that included losses to Austin-East and Alcoa.

Austin-East, which ended Johnson County’s season last year in the second round, could be there again. The Roadrunners will meet Chuckey-Doak in the first round.

Unicoi County’s loss Friday night against Johnson County wasn’t as painful as it might have been. The Blue Devils will still be at home and get a team — Kingston (4-6) — with a losing record.

The bad news for Unicoi is reaching the second round likely means a date with top-ranked and three-time defending state champion Alcoa (10-0 and a 21-game winning streak, including a win over Maryville). The Tornadoes meet Claiborne in the first round.

Class 2A

Hampton earned a second-place finish and a home game, but none of the Region 1 teams figure to have an easy time in the opening round.

The Bulldogs will meet Rockwood, which made it to the state semifinals last year and its four losses this year came against teams with a combined 28 wins.

Also on Hampton’s side of the bracket is Sullivan North. The Raiders have the unfortunate task of traveling to face undefeated and top-ranked Meigs County, which was 12-0 last year before a 9-8 upset loss to Rockwood in the quarterfinals.

On the other side of the bracket, Happy Valley faces a road trip to meet Oneida, whose three losses came against teams with a combined 23 wins. If the Warriors win, they will meet the winner of Wartburg Central at South Greene.

Class 1A

Cloudland’s bracket looks similar to last year. The Highlanders will play host to Midway, a team they defeated 50-13 in the first round in 2017.

If Cloudland wins, it would likely meet Coalfield, which plays 1-9 Jellico. The Yellow Jackets hammered Cloudland 48-8 in last year’s second-round meeting. Coalfield has ended Cloudland’s season for four straight years and five of the last six.

On the other side of the bracket, Oliver Springs will be a heavy favorite despite traveling to play Hancock County while top-ranked and defending state champion Greenback gets a first-round bye because Unaka was not eligible for the playoffs.

Tickets

The TSSAA is offering digital tickets for all playoff games through GoFan.

Digital tickets sold through the GoFan platform will be “mobile-only” tickets, which means the digital ticket must be shown at the gate on the purchaser's smartphone. Digital tickets may be purchased by visiting TSSAAsports.com or GoFan.co (the .co extension is correct).

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