The projections went 11-1 last week, bringing them to 169-43 in the playoffs (79.7%) after a 279-54 regular season. Not bad! At this point, I don’t have to repost the championship probabilities sheet – because this is Championship Week, I’ve just added each team’s likelihood of winning the game in parentheses next to the score. Here’s this week’s games in spreadsheet form:
Good luck to all teams participating this weekend, and safe travels for all fans.
- 11:00 AM, 2A Championship Game: Peabody (13-1) 24, Trousdale County (11-3) 22 (Peabody 55.1%, Trousdale County 44.9%)
- Peabody was the second-most likely team to make the 2A Championship Game behind Meigs County, who Trousdale County beat. Trousdale is undoubtedly the single most surprising state championship participant, a team that went 7-3 in essentially a two-team region and had a 1-3 record against teams in the top 100 of the state on MaxPreps prior to the playoffs. All they did was beat three of the top four favorites for the 2A title. In contrast, Peabody’s road looks downright easy – Waverly Central last week was their first game within 30 points since a 14-10 loss to Gibson County on September 28. Both have been stout defensively against most teams; Peabody tossed up 8 shutouts this year, while Trousdale had 4 plus another 4 games where they held the opponent to single digits. Trousdale’s more battle-tested and probably has multiple better wins than Peabody, but Peabody’s dominance of nearly every opponent puts them ahead in the ratings. I wonder how much Trousdale has left in the tank, personally. Player to watch: Peabody RB Jarel Dickson.
- 3:00 PM, 4A Championship Game: Greeneville (14-0) 37, Haywood (10-4) 19 (Greeneville 85.6%, Haywood 14.4%)
- Haywood’s run isn’t as Cinderella-y as Trousdale, but it’s remarkable in its own right. Haywood started 2-4 and lost to Dyersburg 48-14, but hasn’t lost since and almost fully reversed the Dyersburg score two weeks ago in a 47-14 win. (I’d guess it was in the back of their minds.) Greeneville simply has been the unstoppable bulldozer of the likes we may never see again in 4A. Just one game has ended within 20 points – their 35-20 win over Elizabethton – and the much-hyped rematch against Anderson County was over in the second quarter. Greeneville led 42-7 in that game before letting in a pair of late touchdowns. As good as Haywood has been for two months now, it would take a monstrous effort to defeat a Greeneville team that would be a 6A championship favorite. Greeneville has four FBS commits on offense alone.
- 7:00 PM, 6A Championship Game: Oakland (13-1) 32, Whitehaven (11-3) 21 (Oakland 73.7%, Whitehaven 26.3%)
- Whitehaven is the other major surprise participant. This feels funny to say, considering Whitehaven won the 6A Championship two years ago, but you’ve got to look at who they beat on the way here: 10-1 Houston, 12-0 Germantown, and 11-2 Ravenwood, all very good or elite teams. (Germantown was the 6A favorite heading into the postseason.) Oakland, on the other hand, isn’t a surprise, but it was certainly stunning how thoroughly they owned Maryville. Oakland won 38-0 and it felt like 78-0; the game was over by halftime. The path to a Whitehaven win is reliant on holding Oakland to 21 or less – it’s happened just twice this year, and Oakland needed a late stop against Mount Juliet to hang on in a 14-7 win. Pay special attention to Oakland’s two outstanding players, DE Joseph Anderson (South Carolina) and WR Woodi Washington (Oklahoma). For Whitehaven: ATH Keveon Mullins (South Carolina), OG Melvin McBride (Tennessee), and 2020 ILB Bryson Eason (likely Oklahoma).
- 11:00 AM, II-A Championship Game: Davidson Academy (12-0) 38, Friendship Christian (10-2) 26 (Davidson Academy 74.5%, Friendship Christian 25.5%)
- It’s a weird time on a weird day, but this will be the single most fun game of the weekend, and I hate that the calculations I use are so conservative on point projections. (I’ll work on this for 2019.) Davidson Academy has yet to score fewer than 40 points in a game this year, and their 54.3 PPG average would rank #2 in state history. Let me tell you this: they beat teams 62-55 and 62-56 this year. If you are in Cookeville, spend the money. Friendship Christian, a good team, feels downright boring in comparison – just one 60+ point game on the year. They’ve won games 14-7 and 19-0. SNOOZE! Davidson hasn’t been seriously threatened since the referenced 62-56 win over Fayette Academy nearly two months ago, the team Friendship just beat 14-7. Maybe this ends up being an upset, but you can bet it’s the game with the most points.
- 3:00 PM, II-AA Championship Game: Christ Presbyterian Academy (13-0) 33, Battle Ground Academy (11-2) 20 (Christ Presbyterian Academy 77.1%, Battle Ground Academy 22.9%)
- CPA has already beaten BGA 31-20 earlier this season and they ended Lausanne’s three-year winning streak two weeks ago in the semifinals. (A note: not a single Tennessean writer of the seven available picked CPA to win II-AA, while this very site said they were favorites to win it all. Congrats to me.) BGA obliterated Franklin Road Academy 50-7 in the semifinals and beat a good Webb team 30-10, but lost to their two toughest opponents (CPA and Evangelical Christian) by a combined score of 51-27. It doesn’t look great for them. Players to highlight: CPA ILB Kane Patterson (Clemson commit) and WR Noah Henderson (likely Arkansas State); BGA 2020 S Antonio Stevens (Missouri offer) and 2019 OLB Chico Bennett Jr. (Georgia Tech).
- 7:00 PM, II-AAA Championship Game: Brentwood Academy (10-2) 27.0, Memphis University School (11-0) 26.9* (Brentwood Academy 50.2%, Memphis University School 49.8%)
- This is the best game you can see in Cookeville this year. Brentwood Academy was considered a top-three team statewide, on a 24-game winning streak, before a shocker 31-27 loss to McCallie. They’d lose 25-24 to Montgomery Bell Academy two weeks later. Since, BA has avenged the MBA loss, and outside of those two games, their defense has been untouchable. (The offense leaves a bit to be desired.) MUS has simply been the premier team in private school football, a team that’s 6-0 against top 50 teams in Tennessee and has only faced two serious down-to-the-wire challenges, including their 10-7 semifinal win over McCallie. Both schools have several legitimate D1 prospects, and MUS brings shutdown corner Maurice Hampton (LSU commit) to the battle. (Recruiting people would also recommend you watch MUS 2020 OT Marcus Henderson, a likely Ole Miss commit, and BA 2020 ILB Devyn Curtis, who holds South Carolina and Vandy offers along with interest from several ACC schools.)
- 11:00 AM, 1A Championship Game: Whitwell (14-0) 29, Cornersville (14-0) 24 (Whitwell 60.9%, Cornersville 39.1%)
- Compared to the rest of the divisions, 1A went almost perfectly to form. The four semifinal participants had a 48% chance to make the semifinals or better, and the only mild surprise was Cornersville making it instead of Huntingdon. This was the second-most likely championship game, and we should be so lucky to have a title game with two 14-0 teams, both of whom would be first-time champions. Cornersville made the title game last year, but lost to Greenback; Whitwell has never played in a championship game before and had a lone semifinals appearance to their name prior to this season. (Another small brag: the Tennessean didn’t even list Whitwell, my 1A favorite, as a darkhorse. At least George Thompson made the correct pick.) Whitwell figures to have a small offensive edge, while Cornersville’s defense is probably a little better. This should be excellent football.
- 3:00 PM, 3A Championship Game: Alcoa (14-0) 36, Covington (14-0) 18 (Alcoa 84.0%, Covington 16.0%)
- Covington finally put the Stratford miracle run to bed last week, defeating a 5-8 team 20-14 in the semifinals. Alcoa played a very good Upperman team and won 27-14 despite the fact that Upperman wasn’t going to score a point on Alcoa’s defense. (Sorry.) Alcoa has six wins better than Covington’s best; I don’t see this one being a Covington win. As usual, the best strategy, if there is one, would be for Covington to choke the clock by running it on 95% of plays.
- 7:00 PM, 5A Championship Game: Henry County (13-1) 25, Knoxville Central (12-2) 24 (Henry County 51.8%, Knoxville Central 48.2%)
- Finally, we’ve reached the end of the nine-game weekend. Hopefully, it’s as fun as promised – Henry County’s lone loss was to an excellent Germantown team, while Central is on a 12-win tear after a rough 0-2 start. You could convince me of any potential result here. Henry County will run the ball early and often, and there’s a good chance this ends up being a lower-scoring game than projected. Central will throw it around some, but their defense will welcome a run-prominent challenge; they’ve handled that pretty well essentially all season long. This is the best game involving an East Tennessee team by a mile. Henry County has won the title twice in the last 7 years, but Central’s never won it. Perhaps the third time’s the charm. In all honesty, I expect to be wrong on this game.