TSSAA state championship games
Thursday, Dec. 1
Ensworth (11-1) vs. Baylor (11-1)
Kickoff: 8 p.m. Eastern
Nicknames: Tigers, Red Raiders
Coaches: Ricky Bowers, Phil Massey
The season: The teams met in Week 5 at Baylor with the Red Raiders posting a lopsided 42-14 victory. The rematch of last year's state championship game was the Tigers' only loss of the year to date. Baylor's only loss was also on the road when the Red Raiders fell 10-7 at Brentwood Academy in Week 7. ... Ensworth is riding a seven-game win streak behind RB Corn Elder, who ran for 269 yards and three TDs in their latest win. Elder has run for 2,030 yards, a per-game average of 169 yards. While the Tigers' offense has grabbed the limelight their defense has given up an average of just 10.9 points per game. The 42 points Baylor managed was 25 points more than Ensworth allowed to any other opponent.
The playoffs: Both had a first-round bye. Baylor beat MBA 20-10 and Ensworth won over Father Ryan 42-17 in the second round; Baylor escaped with a 31-28 win over Christian Brothers and Ensworth shut out Memphis University School 28-0 in the semifinals. The win over CBHS was Baylor's closest margin of victory this year. In the playoffs, Ensworth is averaging 35 points per game, Baylor 25.5. The Tigers also have allowed an average of 8.5 points while the Red Raiders have given up 19 points per game.
Friday, Dec. 2
Wayne County (13-0) vs. South Pittsburg (12-2)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern
Nicknames: Wildcats, Pirates
Coaches: Rick Rice, Vic Grider
The season: The Wildcats posted three shutouts during the year and just three teams scored 20 or more points against them. They have averaged 37.8 points per game, scoring 40 or more seven times. The closest they came to losing was in Week 3, a 28-24 over Mt. Pleasant. The defense has been impressive but possible more so last week. They allowed just 90 yards. ... South Pittsburg's two losses were to teams that would have been in the playoffs in not for running afoul of TSSAA rules interpretations. ... Otherwise, the Pirates have been machine-like, again, despite key injuries during the season. The Pirates scored 38 or more points in six of their wins including 74 against Whitwell. Their two losses were to Class 4A Signal Mountain and Class 2A Knoxville Grace. Five of their games were against Class 2A or higher opponents including Class 6A Franklin County.
The playoffs: South Pittsburg bested Grace Academy 56-13 in Round 1, Greenback 28-17 in Round 2, Coalfield 36-6 in Round 3 and Gordonsville 32-14 in the semifinals; Wayne County had a first-round bye, then defeated Clarksville Academy 42-20, Huntingdon 26-13, and West Carroll 33-0 to reach the championship.
Appling County at Calhoun (13-0)
Nicknames: Pirates, Yellow Jackets
Coaches: J.T. Pollock, Hal Lamb
Notes: Appling County took four overtimes before pulling out a 35-33 victory over Lamar County. ... The game will be a semifinal affair kicking off at 7:30. ... The Pirates have a three-game win streak after seeing an undefeated season slip through their fingers on Nov. 4 in a 21-14 loss to Pierce County. That's the only game where they failed to score at least 19 points. ... Calhoun, which has two shutouts, has held eight opponents to a touchdown or less including two of their three playoff opponents to date. ... A former Class AAA member, Appling County is making its second playoff showing in the past three seasons but this is the deepest run the Pirates have been in at least a decade. ... Appling County is located in Baxley, Ga., a small town about halfway between Macon and Savannah and about 70 miles southwest of I-16.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...