It’s Week Three of the TSSAA state football playoffs, and five Williamson County teams are still alive, some of which have interesting rematches of earlier games. Here’s a look at the games for each this week.
4. The Battle of the Woods rematch
One of the best rivalries in the mid-state renews Friday, when Brentwood (10-2. 366 points scored/254 points allowed) and Ravenwood (10-2, 337/205) meet at Brentwood on Friday in quarterfinal action of the 6A playoffs.
In what was probably a mild upset at the time, Brentwood won at Ravenwood, 31-28, on Sept. 14. The Bruins erased a 14-point, first-half deficit and avenged last year’s loss to the Raptors behind quarterback Cade Granzow (7 of 11 for 215 yards and three touchdowns passing, 13 rushes for 56 yards), whose scoring strike to now-departed Chayce Bishop was the last of 28 unanswered Brentwood points.
Granzow has been terrific all year, and last week, was 14 of 28 passing for 182 yards, but was even better on the ground, rushing 18 times for 82 yards and three scores, one coming in overtime in a 27-24 win over Independence that avenged a regular-season loss.
His counterpart, Ravenwood’s Brian Garcia, has also starred in 2018. Last week, Garcia threw five touchdown passes and ran for another in lifting Ravenwood to a 43-36 win over Cane Ridge, handing the Ravens their first loss. Cane Ridge beat Ravenwood in the playoffs last season.
The key matchup may be Ravenwood’s offense against Brentwood’s defense, because both sides have a knack for making huge plays when it matters.
Garcia has a ton of weapons, running backs Tony Rice and William Baine, receivers Andrew Mason and Anthony Holmes being the main ones. Last week, it was Garcia hitting Mason with a 12-yard pass with five seconds left that helped the Raptors advance.>
But Brentwood’s defense has play-makers, too. It has Tank Starr making life tough up front for offenses, and safety/wide receiver Walker Merrill on the back end. In between, linebacker Xiere Howard got things done all year; he recovered a fumble last week and had a touchdown in the last meeting. Last week, defensive back James Scott recovered a fumble in the second overtime to end the Independence game.
3. Fairview gets a surprise quarterfinal opponent
Last week, in this space, I wrote that, if Fairview (10-2, 440/212) beat East Nashville, it would, “in all likelihood,” have a game with Pearl Cohn this week. That wasn’t exactly a reach; Pearl Cohn’s opponent was Stratford, which the 9-2 Firebirds had pounded, 55-0, earlier in the season.
That’s why they play the games. Stratford (4-8, 252/344) pulled a stunner heard across the state by a 32-27 final. It’s another crazy chapter in within a crazy season under interim coach Thomas Porter, who replaced Jerrell Cogmon earlier in the season.
Fairview’s path to victory is no secret: It’s getting the ball to Mr. Football finalist Kam Harris-Lusk and letting him make plays. That’s something that unconventional coach Chris Hughes has been great at doing this year. A pair of seniors, quarterback Brock Harris and Blake Russell, are important cogs in the Yellowjackets’ offense, too.
2. The BGA-FRA sequel
Battle Ground Academy (10-2, 430/126) has cruised into the semifinals of Division II-AA with 37- and 20-point wins. That’s not out of character for the Wildcats, who won nine of their 10 by at least 20 points.
The one sub-20-point win? That was a 14-3 victory over Franklin Road Academy (8-4, 346/196) on Oct. 11. The two play again Friday, with BGA hosting this time.
If you like watching college prospects, you’ll love this one. FRA receiver Lance Wilhoite (Oregon commitment) and defensive lineman Tymon Mitchell (Georgia) are big-time players. BGA linebacker Chico Bennett (Georgia Tech) gives the Wildcats a threat at tight end, too. Defensive backs Antonio Stevens and Garnett Hollis have another year of high school, but both are major-college prospects.
And yet other players may well decide this. BGA quarterback Nick Semptimphelter has been great in his first year as a starter, and guides an offense that also features running back Tiy Reed.
1. The BA-MBA grudge match
Brentwood Academy was rolling along with a 24-game winning streak until Oct. 5, when McCallie pulled a 25-24 road upset on Oct. 5. After a bye week for BA, Montgomery Bell Academy saddled the Eagles with a losing streak with a 25-24 road upset.
Of course, MBA may still feel it has a score to settle from losing 28-14 to the Eagles in last year’s state title game. The year before, BA also knocked off the Big Red in the state title match.
The Eagles will ride the rushing attack of quarterback Wade Williams and Tomario Pleasant. On defense, BA has a potent front seven with stars such as linebacker Devyn Curtis and defensive lineman Thomas Gore. Keep an eye on MBA linebacker Jackson Hannah, a Nebraska commitment, too.