TSSAA Playoffs Second Round
(all kickoffs at 7 p.m. local time)
Lookout Valley (8-3) at Coalfield (9-1)
South Pittsburg (9-2) at Greenback (9-1)
Rockwood (7-4) at Boyd-Buchanan (9-1)
Alcoa (7-4) at Bledsoe County (9-1)
Polk County (8-3) at CAK (9-2)
Brainerd (6-5) at Giles County (8-3)
Ooltewah (8-3) at Powell (11-0)
McCallie (5-5) at MUS (7-3)
MBA (6-5) at Baylor (9-1)
GHSA playoffs first round
Jefferson at Calhoun
Gordon Central at North Oconee
Dalton at Gainesville
Monroe at Ridgeland
Fayette County (8-3) at North Jackson (11-0)
Ft. Payne (10-1) at Briarwood Christian (10-1)
For much of this high school football season, Ooltewah's offense has tested the limits of the scoreboard. But after nearly six touchdowns per game, it will be the Owls' offense that will be tested this Friday in a second-round playoff game at top-ranked Powell.
While Ooltewah has scored 38-plus in five straight games and opened the Class 5A playoffs impressively, rolling up 490 total yards, Powell hasn't allowed more than 20 points all year.
"They're as good as advertised," Owls coach Shannon Williams said. "They're athletic and aggressive, and they will be a challenge. Hopefully we can make it a shootout because that's where we're comfortable with our style of offense. We've been in a really good rhythm offensively.
"The thing I like about how we're playing right now is that our guys don't panic. If we fall behind, they stay calm and continue to go about their business."
The Owls (8-3) scored on their first six possessions in a blowout opening-round win over Shelbyville and didn't punt until the final two minutes. They also showed just how balanced they can be with a 200-yard rusher, Desmond Pittman, and Bradley Stephens completing 12 of 14 passes to five receivers for 200 yards. Ooltewah has five receivers with 20-plus catches.
In the 4A bracket, Brainerd moved on to the second round for just the second time in the last 14 years. Despite having just 24 able bodies on the roster, the Panthers (6-5) won their last two regular-season games by less than a touchdown just to qualify for the playoffs and then knocked off East Hamilton by seven on Friday.
"When you blow teams out, it can give you a false sense of how good you are sometimes," said Panthers coach Stanley Jackson, whose team now travel to Giles County. "We've learned. Every time you play, especially close games, will make you better, so by playing so many close games we're battle-tested. Now we feel good if it's close late that we've already won the game mentally."
Two Chattanooga teams that had first-round byes and are considered favorites to reach state finals join the postseason competition Friday. Division II-AA top-ranked Baylor hosts an MBA team it narrowly beat 23-16 in Week 4 of the regular season, and in Class 2A, second-ranked Boyd-Buchanan hosts Rockwood.
The Buccaneers have reached at least the quarterfinals each of the last three seasons and seven of the last nine years and blistered Rockwood 42-0 in their only previous meeting, two years ago in the semifinals. But Rockwood has allowed one TD or less in four of last five games.
After blowing a 17-3 halftime lead, McCallie scored on a 43-yard pass from Trent Lusk to Jack Williamson with just three seconds remaining to avenge a regular-season loss to Battle Ground Academy. The Blue Tornado will travel for a second consecutive week, going to fifth-ranked Memphis University School, which has held six opponents to three points or less.
In 3A, Bledsoe County has reached the second round for the first time in 13 years and now will host seven-time defending state champion Alcoa. The Warriors (10-1), who have scored 43-plus points in five straight games, last had a 10-win season 16 years ago when they lost to Alcoa in the second round. The four losses for Alcoa (7-4) all came to state-ranked opponents.
Polk County has reached the second round each of the previous two years but hasn't advanced to the quarterfinals since 1979. The Wildcats travel to fourth-ranked Christian Academy of Knoxville, whose two losses this year were by one point each.
Lookout Valley held on for a road win in round one and travels again this week to fifth-ranked Coalfield in 1A. The Yellow Jackets have never advanced to the quarterfinals, having reached the second round twice previously, and face a Coalfield team that has allowed six or fewer points seven times this year and is outscoring opponents 44-10.
Also in 1A, third-ranked South Pittsburg scored 50 first-half points in a first-round win over Grace Academy and travels to sixth-ranked Greenback. The Pirates have won their last eight meetings with the Cherokees, but this will be the first meeting in five years.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...