Only three weeks remain in what has been an eventful 2016 season. Off field discussion in recent weeks has centered on the mass exodus of private programs from Division I to Division II. Locally, Middle Tennessee Christian School and Lipscomb Academy made the move this past week. You can see a complete list here. This shift has been a long time coming and has been foreshadowed by many factors over the last few years. I asked Nashville Christian head coach Jeff Brothers about the Eagles’ upcoming move and he was very candid. You can hear that interview here. Here is my plea to coaches, players, administrators, and most importantly parents. Stop whining. I’ve heard more complaints from people over they years about the disadvantages of their school and the advantages of others. The TSSAA tries their best to make the playing field as fair as possible. There are currently 8 state champions and that number is about to grow to 9. That’s ridiculous. People need to understand that winning a state championship or even a region championship isn’t in the cards for everyone. The purpose of high school athletics isn’t to hand out trophies to everyone that participates. It’s to teach young people how to use their bodies and their minds to work hard and together to achieve a goal. That goal for MBA may be to win a Division II-AA state championship. And that’s great. That goal for Glencliff may be to win a single game. And that’s great. To steal a term from Nick Saban, it’s about the “process”: The process of growing together as a team, the process of learning your own physical limitations and maybe even learning how to exceed perceived limitations. It’s also about the process of growing up. And I think there is a lot of adults involved that need to do just that. Now that most private schools in the state are in their own classification, let’s move past the era of whining and complaining and into an era of growth and competition. Let’s have fun supporting our kids and our community and spend less time worrying about what someone else has or doesn’t have. Together, we can do it.
Now that I’m off my soapbox, let’s take a look at some of the best games for Week 9. We know a lot about who will be contending for deep playoff runs and who is simply trying to get to Halloween and to the house. This week features some interesting games between teams that will make some noise come November and some that are simply looking to play in November. Without further ado, here are my 5 games of the week for Week 9 in order.
1) Friendship Christian (4-3) @ DCA (5-2)
The teams that recently announced they are moving to Division II can take notes from these two programs. It’s not an easy transition and no one knows that more that than these two. Knoxville Webb has established themselves as the best team in East/Middle 1 and the winner of this one will be the second best. Playoff positioning and mid-state pride are on the line in Donelson tonight.
2) Nashville Christian (5-2) @ Gordonsville (5-2)
This is the type of game we won’t see anymore when every private school in the state is officially in Division II. Both of these teams are a perfect 5-0 in Region 5-1A and the winner of this one will more than likely win the region even though Nashville Christian has a tougher end to the regular season with games against Trousdale County and MTCS remaining. Gordonsville is a town that’s crazy about football and the home of the Tigers will be rocking tonight. Kevin Smith has more on this one in this week’s Coach Speak.
3) MTCS (7-1) @ Trousdale County (6-1)
It’s a big week for Region 5-1A. If my 2nd biggest game of the night doesn’t decide the region, this one will. Our Dale Krisle will be in Hartsville tonight to document this battle of once beaten teams.
4) Oakland (7-0) @ Riverdale (4-3)
It’s the old school Battle of the Boro. The game may not be close but the atmosphere will be incredible. Head over to this one if you are in Rutherford County tonight. Kevin Smith goes more in depth in this week’s Coach Speak.
5) Smyrna (5-2) @ Cookeville (5-2)
MyTV30 heads to the Upper Cumberland tonight as the Cavaliers host a very talented Smyrna Bulldogs squad. Brent Dougherty and Jonathan Hutton are on the call and Kevin Smith has details on what each team wants to accomplish in this one. Coach Speak