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Fall break = skeleton schedule

Andy Reed • Oct 5, 2017 at 8:30 AM

Fall break is upon us.

If you’re a student, you’re on break from classes. If you’re an athlete in season, you may or may not be playing or practicing.

In football, the three large schools will play on the road this week, including Mt. Juliet, which will play at McGavock on Thursday night, before taking next week off.

The small schools - Watertown, Friendship Christian and Mt. Juliet Christian - are enjoying a well-deserved break before beginning a three-game sprint-to-the-playoff stretch run next week.

Mt. Juliet at McGavock

This could be an intriguing matchup between the 7-0 Golden Bears and 5-2 Raiders, the latter one of the surprise teams in Metro Nashville this year.

“Much improved football team from a year ago, in big part, like us, because of the experience they have on the field from last year,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said of the Raiders. “There are signs of the 2015 McGavock team when I watch film, which is high praise because the 2015 team put it on us.”

McGavock is led by running back Ta’micus Napier, quarterback Harley Neal and slotback Greg Hanserd.

“They have tremendous skill kids,” Perry said. “But the biggest improvement from last year to this year is probably their lines.”

Perry said Napier reminds him too much of Rossview’s Fred Orr, who the Bears faced last week.

“I can’t remember facing two back to back with that skill set, and they’re pretty similar,” Perry said. “They’re elusive and they’re strong.”

But Perry might be most impressed with Hanserd, who doesn’t leave the field when the offense does.

“(He) also plays safety for them,” Perry said. “Great returner, great on coverage, just a complete football player. He can fly.”

Playing on a short week is nothing new for the Bears, who have done so at least once a season, and sometimes more, for several years.

“This staff and players do a really good job of coming in on Sunday after church and combining our Sundays and Mondays,” Perry said.

This is a non-region game and, as such, doesn’t have much bearing on the playoffs at this point. But the Bears do have the “0” in their loss column to defend. Both teams also have a bye next week to consider.

“It’s important to go into your bye week with some momentum,” Perry said. “It’s harder to practice, both coaches and players, during your bye week, but it makes it easier coming off a win.”

Perry said the Bears didn’t add to the injury list last week.

“Friday night was physical, so it’s good to report not any serious injuries,” Perry said. “No new injures and getting a couple of people who have been dinged up a little are healthier.”

Lebanon at Coffee County

The Red Raiders, facing the four Murfreesboro schools in Region 3-6A, are only 1-5 for the season. But they have a star player in Under Armour All-American and UT-commit Alontae Taylor, who can and will play virtually every skill position.

“They probably have the best football player that we’ll play against all year,” Lebanon coach Chuck Gentry said of Taylor, who will line up at wide receiver, running back and took 80 percent of the snaps at quarterback a couple of weeks ago due to an injury to the regular QB. “They play him everywhere. He plays defensive back, linebacker, kick returner, wherever they need him to play, that’s where they will play him, and of course, he makes everyone around him better.

“Get him the ball, get him as a decoy. They have other talented kids also, (but) he’s by far the focal point… We’ve got two or three different (defensive) plans depending on where he’s lined up. You just got to be able to locate him and know where he’s at.”

Lebanon’s Region 4-6A race has shaped up to where there’s a clear demarcation between the top four teams who look to be in good shape to make the playoffs and the bottom two who are on the outside looking in with a long climb ahead. The Blue Devils, on a four-game winning streak following three opening losses, are in a three-way tie for second place with Hendersonville (LHS owns the tiebreaker) and Rossview (where the Devils will go in Week 11). But if the season ends in a three-way deadlock with all the teams splitting with the others, overall record would come into play, making this week’s game possibly more important in terms of playoff seeding.

“We hold our future in our own hands if we take care of ourselves,” said Gentry, noting he hasn’t spent much time looking at playoff scenarios, but might during his bye next week.

On the injury front, tight end/defensive end Zion Logue and offensive guard Cade Baker have been banged up and missed last week’s game, but should play this week, Gentry said.

Wilson Central at LaVergne

At 1-6, Wilson Central needs a win as much as 2-5 LaVergne. But the Wolverines are on a two-game winning streak.

“They have a little momentum in their favor,” Wildcats coach Brad Dedman said. “We got to take charge of our part of the game, play our game and get our momentum going.”

Doing those things will require dealing with an athletic offense and a blitzing defense.

“They’re an athletic football team on both sides of the ball,” Dedman said of the Wolverines. “They have an athletic quarterback (senior Keianthony Conner) who runs and throws it. It revolves around him quite a bit.”

Then there’s senior Josh Lewis, who will line up as a wildcat and play wide receiver.

“He’s a big-time receiver, too,” Dedman said. “It pretty much revolves around those two.

“They have several running backs who they put into the game.”

The Wolverines run a 3-3 stack on defense.

“They like blitzing quite a bit,” Dedman said. “They’ll send five or six guys blitzing. We got to make sure we block our gaps.”

Dedman said wide receiver DeMarius McBroom and lineman Will Spencer Womack will be out with knee injuries. Safety Tristan Mathis (neck) and running back Zay Kern (shoulder) are questionable.

Week 8 games

THURSDAY

MT. JULIET at McGavock

FRIDAY

LEBANON at Coffee County

WILSON CENTRAL at LaVergne

All kickoffs at 7 p.m.

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