Three teams kick off season-ending sprint

Andy Reed • Updated Oct 12, 2017 at 11:30 AM

While Lebanon, Wilson Central and Mt. Juliet recharge their batteries for the two-game stretch run, Watertown, Friendship Christian and Mt. Juliet Christian have enjoyed their bye week and are ready to kick off their closing three-game sprint to the playoffs, where more challenges await.

But first, there are playoff seedings, and possible home games, to lock up.

Watertown at 

Jackson County

This one looks pretty simple. Both are 2-1 in Region 4-2A behind 3-0 Trousdale County. Though one region game remains, this winner will have the inside track to the No. 2 seed and first-round home playoff contest.

“We need to win this one Friday night,” Watertown coach Gavin Webster said.

Watertown is 5-2 for the season while Jackson County is 4-3. The Blue Devils run a spread offense and a 4-3 defense.

“They primarily run (out of the spread),” Webster said. “They’ll throw, but they’re primarily run. They’re decent size, got a little speed.

“It’s a tough atmosphere to play in. Not an easy place to get a win. Have to play really well… Offensively, just got to execute, control the line of scrimmage. Defensively, we’ve got to line up and tackle well. Have to have people make plays on both sides of the ball.”

With 14 days since their last game, the Purple Tigers should be at full strength for the trip to Gainesboro.

“We’re as healthy as healthy can be in Week 9,” Webster said. “The bye week did us some good.”

King’s Academy at Friendship Christian

The last two remaining undefeated teams in East Region II-A hook up at Pirtle Field looking to at least lock up a first-round bye with a top-two finish in the league. Both are 4-0 in the region with Friendship standing 7-0 and King’s 6-1.

“Good football team,” Commander coach John McNeal said of the Lions. “They’ve got good size. They got speed… Athletically, they’re as anybody in the league.

“They’ve got a quarterback who’s started since his freshman year. I think he’s a junior now. They’re a spread team. They like to run out of it first, but they’ll throw it.”

McNeal said the coaches and players benefitted from the bye.

“It was good for the coaches to relax a little bit,” McNeal said. “It’s mentally draining.”

After this week, Friendship has a home game against Middle Tennessee Christian, which is 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the region with a non-league game with Clarksville Academy this week. If the Commanders can win the next two, they’ll finish the season in Knoxville against winless Concord Christian on the verge of their first undefeated regular season since 2006 and second overall.

Ezell-Harding at Mt. Juliet Christian

At 2-2 in the East Region II-A, the Saints are in a three-way tie for second place with Grace Baptist and Donelson Christian, the teams they’ll face on the road the final two weeks. They have a tiebreaker on 3-2 Middle Tennessee Christian. Their two losses are to Friendship and King’s.

“The first-round bye is a little out of our hands. Things have to happen,” said Mt. Juliet Christian coach Dan Davis, whose Saints are 5-2 overall and on the verge of their first-ever playoff berth. “But a home game is within our grasp and that’s what we’re aiming for.”

They’re taking aim at an Ezell-Harding team which is 0-4 in the region and 1-6 overall. The Eagles were blown out at Friendship earlier this season, but did hit the Commanders with a pair of long touchdown passes.

“That’s what they do best,” Davis said of the Eagles’ passing attack. “They try to take their shots downfield.”

Ezell-Harding runs a 50 defense.

“They just try to line up and contain you,” Davis said.

Like his contemporaries, Davis said the off week helped his team.

“You’ve gone at it for seven weeks, not counting preseason,” Davis said. “It gives you a chance to catch your breath and reload.

“Everybody’s ready to get ready for the playoffs and get after it.”

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