Ten games worth keeping an eye on Friday (Nov. 15), as the second round of the state football playoffs begins.
1.) Oneida (9-2) at Grace Christian Academy (10-0): Oneida advanced to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs with a 17-7 win over Tellico Plains. Despite the close nature of the scoreboard and the stat sheet, the game never really had the feeling of a nail-biter. After a 24-yard Cole West touchdown run late in the first half to give the Indians a 17-7 lead, the outcome never seemed to be in serious doubt. The challenge will be much tougher this week for Oneida, as the Indians face a team that defeated Tellico Plains 42-6 early in the season. Against other common opponents, Grace defeated Rockwood 35-14 last time out, while Oneida defeated Rockwood 13-12 in overtime in the season opener; Grace defeated Greenback 52-13 on Oct. 18, while Oneida fell to the Cherokees 42-38 in September.
Prediction: Grace Christian 35, Oneida 17.
2.) Silverdale Academy (10-1) at Hampton (7-3): Silverdale Academy bounced back nicely from a season-ending upset loss to Boyd Buchanan — which cost it a perfect season and the District 5-A championship — with a 34-18 win over Rockwood in last week's opening round game. It was a big statement for a Silverdale team that many had derided due to a weak regular season schedule. This week presents an opportunity for Silverdale to make another statement with the long drive to Hampton, where the Bulldogs are a young but rapidly improving football team who upset previously-unbeaten Cloudland in the regular season finale to capture the Region 1-A championship. The winner of this one meets the winner of Oneida and Grace Christian next week.
Prediction: Hampton 21, Silverdale 20.
3.) Elizabethton (10-1) at Greeneville (11-0): After holding on — just barely — to beat Scott last week, Elizabethton takes its championship hopes on the road this week, making the drive down I-81 to Greeneville to face a Greene Devil team that has not been seriously tested all season. Greeneville's closest game, in fact, was a 47-20 win over Signal Mountain in late October. Greeneville has not scored fewer than 40 points all season, and aside from that Signal Mountain game has not given up more than a single touchdown in an individual game. With a 51-7 win over Grainger in the first round under its belt, Greeneville eyes a highly-anticipated quarterfinal showdown with Fulton with only Elizabethton standing in the way.
Prediction: Greeneville 42, Elizabethton 13.
4.) Sullivan South (10-1) at Fulton (11-0): The only reason Greeneville isn't the state's top-ranked Class 4A team is because Fulton has stood in the way all season. The Falcons have simply dominated their competition throughout the season. In fact, in the regular season finale against then-unbeaten Carter for the District 3-AA championship, Fulton led 62-0 . . . at halftime. The Falcons have three Mr. Football finalists and two of the state's three Class AA backs Mr. Football finalists come from the same school, which is almost unheard of. Daryl Rollins-Davis and Xavier Hawkins present a unique double challenge for opponents. For that quarterfinal showdown between Fulton and Greeneville to take place, Sullivan South can't spring an upset. But against this loaded Fulton team, an upset is going to be tough to come by.
Prediction: Fulton 56, Sullivan South 13.
5.) Greenback (7-4) at Coalfield (7-3): After a thrilling comeback win at Oneida on Sept. 19, the wheels almost came off for Greenback. The Cherokees lost to Rockwood in one upset, then were stunned by Midway (38-21), and ended the season having lost three of their last five. To top it all off, Greenback found itself down 14-0 after the first quarter of last week's opening round game at Sunbright. But when the 'Kees decide to rally, they rally hard. And they wound up dominating Sunbright, 42-20. The last time Greenback and Coalfield met, the Yellow Jackets were beaten up in just about every way imaginable, losing 31-7 at Greenback's Cooper Field. This one is at Rochelle Field, which is one of the toughest places in all of Class A football for visitors to walk away with a win. And although Coalfield is still without all-star back Addison Bible, the Yellow Jackets still have perhaps the toughest offensive and defensive lines in Class 1A, anchored by University of Tennessee commit and Mr. Football finalist Zach Stewart (junior). It's hard to imagine that this game will end in the same lopsided fashion as the first meeting between the two schools.
Prediction: Coalfield 28, Greenback 21.
6.) Midway (8-3) at Cloudland (9-1): If the 2008 season — which ended in a 38-0 playoff defeat at Oneida — was the end of the glory years at Midway, 2013 might be remembered as the start of a new era. After stumbling to a combined record of 5-25 in 2009 through 2011, Midway began to claw its way back onto the scene last season, finishing 5-5 and making the playoffs. This year, the Green Wave burst back into the picture. A thrilling, come-from-behind win against Sunbright marked the start of a pretty magical season South of the River, a season that included a 38-21 beatdown of Greenback and continued with a lopsided 40-7 win over Unaka in last week's opening round of the Class 1A playoffs. Last season, Cloudland ended Midway's season in the first round of the playoffs. This year, the Green Wave is looking for revenge against a Cloudland team that was unbeaten until arch-rival Hampton spoiled their perfect season and region title hopes last time out. As Cloudland looks to bounce back from that devastating loss, Midway looks to make yet another statement in what has been a statement season.
Prediction: Cloudland 28, Midway 27.
7.) Johnson County (5-6) at CAK (5-6): This Class 3A second round game features two teams that raised eyebrows last week. Not that anyone felt like CAK, as a No. 6 team, couldn't slip past No. 3 Gatlinburg-Pittman in a first round "upset." But the Warriors, who struggled to a 4-6 record in the regular season after back-to-back state championships, flat-out dominated the Highlanders, winning 56-21. On the other hand, it's probably safe to say that few people expected No. 7 Johnson County to slip past No. 3 Chuckey-Doak in the first round. But the guys from the northeast corner of Tennessee did just that, with a 23-20 win. The going gets significantly tougher for Johnson County this week. CAK might not have Charlie High or Josh Smith, but they still have Rusty Bradley calling the shots.
Prediction: CAK 49, Johnson County 13.
8.) Pigeon Forge (6-5) at Alcoa (10-1): After the Tornadoes ho-hummed their way to a 45-7 win over York Institute in last week's Class 3A opening round game, the going gets a little tougher for round two against a Pigeon Forge team that defeated Sullivan North 34-27 for a minor upset last week. But Alcoa still has a decided upper hand in Gary Rankin's quest for yet another gold ball for the Tornadoes' trophy case.
Prediction: Alcoa 42, Pigeon Forge 14.
9.) Campbell County (10-1) at Knox West (10-1): After a magical regular season that saw Campbell County win the most games in school history, the Cougars earned their first-ever playoff win last week, 41-7 over Gibbs in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. Many, myself included, felt that Gibbs was a dangerous draw for the Cougars in the opening round. Campbell County proved otherwise, making quick work of the Eagles. Needless to say, the Knox West team the Cougars will encounter this week is a totally different animal. The Rebels fell to Maryville 42-20 early in the season (if you're keeping score, that's closer than any public school not named Lenoir City played Maryville this season), and didn't lose thereafter. Their wins included lopsided affairs against every other district team they faced — Farragut, Bearden, William Blount, Hardin Valley, Heritage and Lenoir City. Farragut faired best, falling only 25-16 back in September. No other district team came within three touchdowns of West, which ended the season with wins over Heritage and Lenoir City by combined scores of 90-12 before blasting David Crockett 60-0 in last week's opening round game.
Prediction: West 42, Campbell County 27.
10.) South Doyle (7-4) at Anderson County (10-1): For former Scott head man Davey Gillum to lead his alma mater to the Class 5A quarterfinals for the third time since replacing Oneida head coach Tony Lambert there in 2009, he has to get by an upstart South Doyle team that went on the road and blasted Tennessee High 41-14 in last week's Class 5A first round game. Just when you lookat last week's results and convince yourself that the Cherokees have a chance, you look at the body of work from the season as a whole and wince. South Doyle's losses include a 44-10 setback to Carter, and the Cherokees gave up 40 to Morristown East and 56 to Sevier County. Those defensive struggles will lead to misery against Gillum's high-octane offensive approach. Wins this week by Anderson County and Campbell County would set up a quarterfinal rematch between the Mavs and Cougars next week that would be, in a word, awesome. Call it the Battle of the Clinch River Valley, call it the Battle of I-75, call it whatever you want . . . just make it happen. Anderson County should be able to do its part.
Prediction: Anderson County 48, South Doyle 14.