Watertown will visit Mt. Juliet Christian in a rematch of what was a region series in the 2000s. Lebanon at McGavock and Mt. Juliet at John Overton were region foes as recently as last year. Wilson Central will visit Smyrna in a renewal of a dormant region rivalry. What was once perhaps the most heated rivalry of all will resume in Hartsville when Friendship Christian visits Trousdale County.
Watertown at Mt. Juliet Christian
The Saints were a struggling expansion team when they played the Purple Tigers regularly. Now, they are coming off their first-ever winning season and, though this game won’t have a bearing, are taking aim at their inaugural playoff appearance.
“A good ball team… More athletic,” said Watertown coach Gavin Webster, whose Purple Tigers played the Saints when he was an assistant and after he was promoted to head coach in 2005. “Local, in-county, good for both schools. Should be a good matchup.”
“They’re always a well-coached team,” said fourth-year MJCA coach Dan Davis, whose experience with the Purple Tigers was a preseason scrimmage last year. “They had a good win against Gordonsville last week.
“We expect a pretty good tussle.”
Webster said the Saints run a multiple offense which tries to get the ball to their playmakers in the backfield and on the perimeter. Defensively, they focus on stopping the run.
“He’s pretty multiple with his formations,” Webster said. “They try to outflank you to get the ball to their big tailback (Darius Hylick). The quarterback (Alex Pitman) is a good little athlete, has a good arm… He has good receivers. Have some big linemen up front, good size, move well.
“(Defensively) he wants to put a lot of pressure on you, try to take away the run game, try to make you beat them with the pass, keep a lot of people in the box.”
Webster said the Tigers are healthy. Davis said the Saints are as well with the exception of linebacker Andrew Kittrell, who suffered a concussion last week.
Lebanon at McGavock
The Raiders edged Maplewood 25-24 in overtime last week by hitting an extra point with only 10 men on the field. It was their first win since beating the Blue Devils 29-0 one year ago behind two long touchdown runs and some 200 yards rushing by 5-foot-7, 175-pound running back Ta’micus Napier.
“Very good football player,” Lebanon coach Chuck Gentry said of Napier. “He and the quarterback (Harley Neal) are who make it go. (Neal) is a runner first. He will throw it, but he ran it more than he threw it Friday night.
“They’re big and fast and aggressive on defense. They will run to the football and hit you when they get there.”
While the Raiders had an overdue winning meal last week, the Blue Devils are still victory-starved despite allowing only 10 points in a four-point home loss to Trousdale County last week.
“If you had told me beforehand we would hold them to 10 points, I would have liked our chances of winning,” Gentry said. “We came out after halftime and fought hard to make it a four-quarter football game.
“There were times we looked okay (on offense) and did what we wanted to do.There were other times where we didn’t… Offensively, we never got in rhythm like we wanted to.”
Gentry said the Blue Devils are healthy for Week 2.
“Everything was healthy but our feelings,” Gentry said. “They were frustrated that they lost, and that was a good thing.”
Wilson Central at Smyrna
In an era of spread offenses, Smyrna’s attacks hearkens an age when teams ran the ball first.
“It starts with their running back (junior Blake Watkins),” Wildcat coach Brad Dedman said of the Bulldogs, who opened their season with a 35-28 win over rival LaVergne. “Their offensive linemen block pretty well. They do a good job up front. We’ll definitely have a chore up front.
“We’ll have to control the line of scrimmage on defense and offense.”
Junior quarterback Alex Bannister’s not bad, either.
“The quarterback throws the ball pretty well,” Dedman said. “They’re probably 60-40 run-pass. the quarterback has a few good moves himself, so we’ll have to control the backside.”
The Bulldogs run a 4-2 defense.
“They’re big up front,” Dedman said. “They have four linemen who like to get upfield and reach the quarterback.
Central is coming off a 21-13 loss to Beech in which the Wildcats were often their worst enemy.
“We’ve got to make sure when we have scoring opportunities we come away with points,” Dedman said. “We have to do a good job holding onto the football, not throwing interceptions, not dropping passes.”
Dedman said the Wildcats are healthy.
Friendship Christian at Trousdale County
This game no longer counts in any region or district standings. Nor is this a playoff game in which the loser’s season will end.
But Commander Nation is fired up about the renewal of this rivalry on the Creekbank as both teams look to go to 2-0.
“We’re excited,” Commander coach John McNeal said. “I told our kids this is what high school football’s about. Trousdale feels like they have a good football team, and they do. They always turn out well at their place, and that’s a great place to play, a great venue. I told our kids that’s one of the more exciting places to play a Friday night football game. We’re excited about going over there and we’re expecting a hard-fought football game.”
Brad Waggoner has come up from Georgia Tech as the new Trousdale coach. But the Yellow Jackets look much the same as when legendary coach Clint Satterfield and his successor Kevin Creasy stalked the sideline, winning eight state championships between them.
“The look similar to a few years ago when they played,” said McNeal, whose Commanders last played the Jackets in 2014. “They’re running the wing-T. They’re running some spread, which they did run that a few years ago.
“Similar Trousdale. They’re fast. They’re tough. It’s going to be a new environment.”
And while the head coach is new, many of the assistants, including offensive coordinator Davy Cothron, have deep Trousdale roots.
“A lot of the same faces are there with Trousdale from playing days to coaching,” McNeal said.
Mt. Juliet at John Overton
Region 3-6A opponents last season, the Golden Bears and Bobcats, like Lebanon and McGavock, picked each other up as non-league opponents with the latest reshuffling of TSSAA alignments.
“We’ve had a good working relationship with them relative to when we were in the same region,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said. “I really enjoyed our games when we were in it and build relationships with their coaches. It was good to continue playing each other.
“Plus, it’s good competition.”
While Mt. Juliet breezed to victory over Glencliff, Overton dropped a 35-12 matchup to neighboring Father Ryan last week.
“Based on the film we’ve gotten and talking to coaches, that’s the worst they’ve played,” Perry said of the Bobcats’ preseason scrimmages and jamboree. “They’ve had some very good outings. They scored 42 points in a half in a jamboree game, so they have the potential to be explosive.”
Perry said Overton’s offense is similar to Mt. Juliet in that the Bobcats run a two-back, three-receiver set and can get into one-back. Their attack revolves around their quarterback and tailback.
“Their offensive coordinator does a good job scripting his plays so they’re in a good balance between rushing and passing,” Perry said.
Overton’s defense is run by head coach Steve Williams, a former Lebanon assistant under Ron Marshall in 1998. He runs an even front.
“Steve’s always been really sound in his schemes,” Perry said. “They can create matchup problems with their coverages. Like last year, they have a lot of speed.
“They have an excellent, excellent linebacker. He’s as good as we have seen on film.”
Perry said the Bears have already been dealing with a season-ending injury. Noseguard Tristan Kilmon tore his ACL in the jamboree. Cade Hoppe has slid over to play the position while Mt. Juliet’s depth covers the remainder of the line.
“That was a big loss,” Perry said. “Fortunately, he’s a junior so we know we’ll have him back next year.
Cade’s body can do what we need at that position… We were playing about seven people up front.”
Week 2 games
WATERTOWN at MT. JULIET CHRISTIAN
LEBANON at McGavock
WILSON CENTRAL at Smyrna
FRIENDSHIP CHRISTIAN at Trousdale County
MT. JULIET at John Overton
All kickoffs at 7 p.m.