By JOSH VARDAMAN
The Franklin Rebels host Antioch Friday, while Centennial goes on the road to take on Clarksville.
See below for a closer look at those matchups:
Antioch (1-4, 0-2) at Franklin (4-1, 2-0), 7 p.m. Friday*
Franklin’s bye week came at a great time after a physical game against Ravenwood two weeks ago and before a home contest against Antioch this week.
The first-place Region 3-6A Rebels enter Friday’s contest against the bottom-dwelling Bears feeling fresh after a week off.
“We’ve been fortunate with injuries, but this time of year everybody gets banged up,” FHS head coach Donnie Webb said. “It’s good to be able to have a few days off, but at the same time we have a lot of work to do because we, in my opinion, have not played a clean football game. We have to clean Franklin up so we can be a good football team.”
The win over Ravenwood was the fourth in a row for Franklin after a season-opening loss in heartbreaking fashion to Centennial. Though they got the win, the Rebels had to fight to overcome two fumbles and an interception.
“We have to be able to adjust and the big thing is we have to get a whole lot better on turnovers and penalties,” Webb said. “If we get Franklin out of our way we can be pretty good.”
While Franklin heads into Friday hot, Antioch is reeling after three straight losses. The Bears have struggled on both sides of the ball, scoring just 11.4 points per game while giving up 32 per game to opponents.
Antioch’s offense has had two different quarterbacks play this season, and Webb said he isn’t quite sure which one they will see.
“We’re really not for sure which one we’re going to get … it doesn’t change the offense, they’re still doing the same things,” he said. “They’re going to try to get some skilled kids in space on us and we have to do a good job of tackling in space.”
No matter which quarterback plays for Antioch, Webb should be expecting his defense to put up solid numbers. Against Ravenwood, the Rebels gave up just 1 rushing yard and 119 yards total.
For the Franklin offense, it’s no secret Webb wants to run the ball against the Bears behind Mitch Rossi. The senior has racked up 531 yards and five touchdowns on 95 carries this season . He gained 100 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries against Ravenwood.
A win Friday would move Franklin to 3-0 in the region and keep the Rebels in the driver’s seat moving forward.
Centennial (5-1, 3-0) at Clarksville (2-4, 1-2), 7 p.m. Friday*
A logjam atop the Region 7-5A standings will get thinner this week, and if Centennial can win, it’ll keep pace as one of the frontrunners.
The Cougars are on the road against Clarksville, and a win over the Wildcats would keep them at the top of the region standings, along with the winner of Friday’s Henry County and Rossview contest. Both of those teams are also 3-0 in the region.
Centennial is hoping its defense can stay hot. After a shutout of West Creek last week, the Cougars have given up just three points in their last two games combined.
Passing defense is where Centennial has proved it’s most stout of late. In their last two games, West Creek and Clarksville Northeast combined for just 31 yards on 11-of-30 passing against the Cougars with two interceptions. They now have 10 interceptions as a team this season.
Offensively, Centennial is hoping to get back to its bread and butter this week against Clarksville: running the football effectively.
With leading running back Zyon Lee (66 carries, 351 yards, six TDs) not in action, the Cougars gained just 76 yards on 21 carries as a team against West Creek.
While their rushing game struggled a week ago, quarterback Tre Stewart and the Cougar passing game proved it can hit big plays if needed. Stewart threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns, though he was picked off one by West Creek. Austin Waddell (2 rec., 100 yards, 2 TDs) and Tavian Fleming (5/92/1) were his two favorite targets.
A victory over Clarksville would do a lot for Centennial as the season inches closer to weeks 10 and 11, when the Cougars will face fellow 3-0 region teams Rossview and Henry County, respectively, to end the regular season.