LaVergne at Lebanon
Blue Devil coach Chuck Gentry, who ultimately made the decision to go ahead and play last Friday’s game with Mt. Juliet (which turned into a 35-0 loss), has been struggling with an illness this week. But he’s the only casualty of the Harvey game.
“We came out healthy,” said Gentry, who will have starting quarterback Chandler Crite back to send plays to this week after the junior sat out last week with an injury. “That was about the only positive.”
Lebanon’s homecoming is a meeting of very similar teams. Both have the LHS initials and have blue as their primary color. Both are also 0-3, meaning one will emerge with its first win of the season.
LaVergne High has several Lebanon connections, including principal Dirk Ash and several faculty members. It also extends to the field.
“They have a really good quarterback (senior Keianthony Conner) who’s from Lebanon,” Gentry said. “He was a Carroll-Oakland kid until the sixth grade. He’s more of a runner than a thrower.”
While Conner operates LaVergne’s spread, the Wolverines will run a 3-3 stack.
“Very aggressive,” Gentry said of the Wolves’ defense. “Against us, I expect them to blitz 100 percent of the time… Possibly, you can get some one-on-one chances. Pass protection has to shape up, but there may be some opportunities to throw the football.
“They do have a good free safety (senior Josh Lewis) sitting in the back of the field who can make plays, so he’s definitely a concern.”
John Overton at Wilson Central
Like LaVergne-Lebanon, John Overton-Wilson Central is a misery-loves-company game between a pair of 0-3 teams. The Bobcats have lost 35-12 to Father Ryan 38-0 to Mt. Juliet and 30-21 last week to Stewarts Creek.
“We’re both looking for something good to happen early and get that first win,” Wildcats coach Brad Dedman said.
Overton is something of an old-school team in that the Bobcats’ foundation lay in the trenches.
“It starts with their linemen on both sides of the ball,” Dedman said of the Bobcats. “They’re quite hefty. They move well. They’re going to be a running football team.”
Overton runs a 4-2-5 base defense but has a 3-2 package.
“It starts up front with their D-linemen,” Dedman said. “They have some good linebackers who move well. It’s mainly the front seven guys who get them going.”
Though Central lost last week to Rossview, the Wildcats cut down on their turnovers. Dedman said that trend needs to continue and increase the takeaways.
“We got to end every series with a kick, a punt or an extra point,” Dedman said. “If we can do that, we have a good chance of winning the football game.
‘We got to do a better job of getting turnovers. That’s almost as important as not turning it over.”
On the injury front, left guard Will Spencer Wamack injured his knee early in the Rossview game and won’t play this week, Dedman said
DeKalb County at Watertown
The Tigers (DeKalb’s version) have 22-point losses to Stone Memorial and Upperman and a 16-point setback to Warren County. Without last year’s quarterback (former Watertown coach and Cumberland shortstop Randy Jennings’ son Steven just completed his rookie minor-league baseball season with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Gulf Coast League team) they still run a spread offense and an even-front defense.
“They’re pretty big,” Watertown coach Gavin Webster said. “They’re always pretty big up front. They have decent speed.”
Watertown has dropped two straight - to Trousdale County and Mt. Juliet Christian - following a season-opening win over Gordonsville. Webster said the slump can be attributed to the basic blocks of football.
“We just got to block and tackle better,” he said. “We’re not blocking well. We’re not tackling well. You don’t do those two things well, you’re not going to win very many ballgames.”
Injuries are also a factor. Quarterback Bryce Webster will continue to sit out with a broken collarbone, and the list may not end there.
“Banged up a little bit right now,” Coach Webster said earlier this week. “Got some guys questionable right now. We’ll find out about them later in the week.”
Friendship Christian at Goodpasture
These two sister schools with church of Christ backgrounds have faculty and staff with ties to the other. Their sports teams have faced each other often through the years with one notable exception - varsity football.
In the only gridiron meeting, Goodpasture beat Friendship 44-0 way back in 1976 when Pat Hackney was coaching the Commanders in their first full varsity season. It was so long ago that even longtime FCS coach John McNeal (Goodpasture Class of ’79) doesn’t remember it, though he does recall facing the Green in baseball and basketball.
“I still have a lot of friends there,” said McNeal, who was a Cougars assistant from 1989-91 (his three-year hiatus from Friendship). “We watched Goodpasture and (Donelson Christian) play and I ran across a lot of people whose kids play there.”
While 2017 has gone swimmingly for the 3-0 Commanders thus far, the Cougars have sputtered to an 0-3 start, having been outscored 127-14 by Battle Ground Academy, Briarcrest and DCA. But McNeal said reinforcements are on the way for coach Jerry Joslin, a former Gallatin, Cookeville and Pope John Paul II coach.
“What I can’t tell you is who they got eligible,” McNeal said of the Cougars. “They got five or six guys who will be eligible at some point in the season. I don’t know when that will be. We’re preparing on what I know they have. I can’t do anything about what I don’t know. The ones they have are good athletes, some good-looking kids. They’ve had some bad luck. I hope that continues for one more week.
“Their record doesn’t reflect the type of team they have. They’ve played some good teams.”
McNeal said Goodpasture runs everything from the spread to two tight ends on offense and a 50 defense.
“They do a little bit of everything on offense, and I can’t go on last week because of the flood,” McNeal said.
Gallatin at Mt. Juliet
This seems like the 1980s. Both teams enter this Week 4 matchup 3-0, just as on so many occasions when Gallatin’s Calvin Short and Mt. Juliet’s Howell Flatt walked the sidelines from the mid-‘70s through the mid-‘80s. In those days, the winning team often took the only playoff berth from District 9-AAA while the loser played in a bowl game. Only this is not a district/region game.
“As far back as I’ve been educated about the rivalry, this might have been the No. 1 vs. the No. 2 team in the state when only one team went to the playoffs,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said. “This is not that.
“What it does do is this is a good measuring stick as we head into the region schedule.”
Gallatin has a 24-7 win over Springfield, a 38-22 victory over Station Camp and a 16-14 squeaker over Hillsboro.
“They’re a really good football team that got their statement win Saturday against a good Hillsboro team,” Perry said. “It confirmed what we had already seen on film.”
Perry said Gallatin’s offense is much like the one Short ran 30-40 years ago.
“They have two really good tailbacks (who can run inside) but who have the speed on the perimeter to keep you honest.”
Gallatin’s defense is coordinated by Anthony King, a teammate of Perry’s at Portland under Trey’s father, Roger.
“They base out of an odd front, but they slant almost all the time to get into an even-front look,” Trey Perry said. “Their defense revolves around one of the best linebackers we’ve ever seen on film, Jalen Porter, who is also one of the tailbacks.”
Those tailbacks will face a Mt. Juliet defense which has posted three shutouts in as many starts to 2017. The Golden Bears have outscored their opponents 128-0.
“It’ll be a tremendous challenge,” Perry said. “Our defense has been very solid all year long.
“The thing that has propelled us to this position has been our communication, not just during the game, but during the week leading up to the game.”
Perry said the Golden Bears are getting healthier with 30 percent of the regular season gone by.
“We’re actually in better position than we’ve been in in a while,” Perry said. “A couple of people who’ve been released should be able to go full speed this week.”
Clay County at Mt. Juliet Christian
The Bulldogs were once a perennial playoff team. But coming off back-to-back 2-8 seasons, they haven’t had a winning campaign since 2008.
But this is 2017 and Clay County is 3-0 going into Friday’s game at Suey Field against another 3-0 team, the Mt. Juliet Christian Saints.
“They look like they’re trying to do a good job in Celina,” Mt. Juliet Christian coach Dan Davis said of the Bulldogs, who run a wing-T offense and 3-4 defense. “They look like they’re a well-coached team.
“They’re a good-sized team.”
No doubt, the Bulldogs have been focused, among other things, on Saints running back Darius Hylick, whose 759 rushing yards this season is fourth in the country on the MaxPreps list.
But even though things are going swimmingly for the Saints, this is no time to go into “maintain” mode.
“We got plenty to work on,” Davis said. “We stay on our guys every day about working on the little things. It’s great being 3-0, but our goals are long past that.”
Week 4 games
LaVergne at LEBANON
John Overton at WILSON CENTRAL
DeKalb County at WATERTOWN
FRIENDSHIP CHRISTIAN at Goodpasture
Gallatin at MT. JULIET
Clay County at MT. JULIET CHRISTIAN
All kickoffs at 7 p.m.