We’ve arrived at the last week of the regular season with plenty yet to be decided. Region titles, playoff spots, and playoff positioning are all on the line tonight. This week, I had to balance postseason implications with some good late season rivalry games. Here’s what I came up with in a decidedly difficult Friday Five selection process. (Spoiler Alert: I erred on the side of de-facto region championship games)
1. Marshall Co. (8-1) @ Page (6-2)
This one is for all the marbles in Region 4-4A. Page has been getting it done with duel threat QB Jacob VanLandingham and freshman running back Bubba Johnson on the ground. The 38-35 win over Giles County in Pulaski was a seminal moment in their 2016 campaign but tonight’s game is a slightly different animal. Marshall County handled Giles County 45-10 and has beaten region foes by an average of 42 points. They also feature one of the most explosive rosters in all of 4A. Led by MTSU commitment Cain McWilliams, Marshall County will be Page’s toughest test of the year. Patriots coach Charles Rathbone joined me this week to discuss the match-up. You can also read more about the match-up in this preview.
2. Centennial (8-1) @ Henry Co. (5-3)
Another region will be decided as Centennial travels 127 miles to Paris to battle the Henry County Patriots. Region 7-5A is one of the more geographically disorienting in the state with teams south of Nashville (Brentwood, Centennial) and teams in northwest middle Tennessee (Clarksville schools, Dickson County, and Henry County) routinely traveling 90 minutes to 2 ½ hours to play region games. That all changes next year with re-classification so this may be your last chance to catch these two teams in action on the same field. Henry County has one of the best community atmospheres in the entire state and they will need it tonight if they are going to pull off a mild upset of Centennial. Read more about these two teams in Sam McGaw’s preview.
3. Harpeth (8-1) @ Fairview (9-0)
Region 6-3A will be decided in this one. Fairview is one of the best places to watch high school football in the area and the Yellow Jackets’ faithful will be rocking tonight. Arrive early if you want a seat. Read more about the match-up in this preview.
4. Trousdale Co. (8-1) @ Nashville Christian (7-2)
Yet another Region championship game as Nashville Christian tries to win another region title in their last season in Division I. The Eagles will make the transition to Division II next season. Trousdale County is here to stay and they’ve proven that once again in 2016. I thought this game would be a cake walk for Nashville Christian until Trousdale County handled MTCS 38-21 a couple of weeks ago and Nashville Christian only won by 3 over MTCS a week ago. Trousdale County has been steadily improving since a 9-0 loss at Gordonsville on September 16th.
5. MBA (8-1) @ Ensworth (6-3) & Smyrna (6-3) @ Oakland (9-0)
I took the easy out and went with a tie in the 5 spot. These two games feature way too much talent to ignore. A pair of future SEC stars populate the Oakland defensive backfield with JaCoby Stevens (LSU) and Kaleb Oliver (Mississippi State) holding down the back end. QB Brendan Matthews is having a great season and Smyrna will start a future MTSU Blue Raider in John Turner at QB. Read more about MBA and Ensworth in Kevin Smith’s Coach Speak column. You can also watch Jaclyn Wallace’s interview with MBA star running back and future Tennessee Vol Ty Chandler here.