BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (5-0) at DONELSON CHRISTIAN ACADEMY WILDCATS (4-1)
Last time: Boyd-Buchanan won 30-7 in the 2008 playoffs.
This time: This will be the third state-ranked team DCA has played this year, and second straight including a loss to Division II Knoxville Webb last week. The Wildcats are averaging 37.6 points but face a Bucs defense that has allowed more than one score just once this season and created 12 turnovers. After close wins in two of the previous three weeks, the Bucs blistered Grace Academy for 352 rushing yards and 54 points last week.
Time to shine: Wildcats quarterback Kyle Kennedy has thrown for 717 yards and just one interception this season. Most of those yards (470) are to receiver Collin Johnston (27 catches). Chase Reed had a breakout game for Boyd-Buchanan, rushing for 279 yards and four TDs last week, while sophomore quarterback Jim Cardwell threw for 84 yards and ran for three scores. Kyle Thomas leads a stingy Bucs secondary with three interceptions.
LOOKOUT VALLEY YELLOW JACKETS (3-2) at NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (3-2)
Last time: Notre Dame won 42-6 in 2004.
This time: If you like offense, this is the kind of game to go see. Lookout Valley averages scoring 32 points per game but allows 24, while Notre Dame scores 40 per game and gives up an average of 33. Each had more than 425 yards of offense last week. While this isn’t a district matchup, overall records do factor into the playoff selection, so neither team can afford to look ahead to big district games next week.
Time to shine: Lookout Valley running back Jamal Jones is closing in on 600 rushing yards and quarterback Vann Scribner has thrown for nearly 500, with eight touchdowns and only one interception. Notre Dame transfer quarterback Josh Moore has ignited the offense, throwing for 14 TDs and more than 1,000 yards, and Matt Reilly has emerged as one of the city’s top receivers.
BRADLEY CENTRAL BEARS (3-1) at BLACKMAN BLAZE (4-1)
Last time: First meeting.
This time: The matchup will have playoff implications, as both teams are ranked in the top 10 in the latest Class 6A state poll.
Time to shine: The Bears’ high-powered offense is under the control of quarterback Bryce Copeland, with versatile back Justin Houston and receiver James Stovall. The Blaze’s I’Tavius Mathers, an Ole Miss signee, already has 1,133 yards rushing this year.
McCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (3-1, 1-1) at BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (5-0, 2-0)
Last time: Baylor won 28-14 last year.
This time: The Tornado hope to end a three-game losing streak to the Red Raiders, after winning 11 consecutive against their chief rivals.
Time to shine: This game will be won in the trenches, as the Tornado, led by senior Tye Youngblood, hopes to open some holes for backs Daniel McClure and Samir Usman and quarterback Trent Lusk. Baylor’s offensive linemen are led by Vanderbilt commitment Barrett Gouger, as they have cleared gaps and created time for quarterback Matthew Oellerich and his collection of running backs and wide receivers.
WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS (0-4) at POLK COUNTY WILDCATS (3-2)
Last time: Polk won 49-14 last year.
This time: The Mustangs are looking to avoid the fourth 0-5 start of their school’s history, while the Wildcats are looking to further enhance their playoff resume with a win over a team in a higher classification.
Time to shine: The Mustangs have been led by senior Kelvin Wells Jr., but wingback Gabe Cartwright and quarterback Garrett Wallace had big games in last week’s loss to Cleveland. Polk quarterback Alec Akins has a lot of options in the backfield, including big Derrick Saxe.
SOUTH PITTSBURG PIRATES (4-0) at SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES (4-1)
Last time: Signal Mountain won 40-36 last year.
This time: South Pittsburg is the state’s unanimous top-ranked Class 1A team while Signal Mountain is a former Class 4A poll No. 1, falling two weeks ago after a lopsided loss to Blackman, the state’s No. 6 Class 6A team. The visitor has won each of the previous two games and South Pittsburg will be mindful of last year’s outcome. Signal is averaging 38.3 points per game while giving up 22, a number that is skewed by the 70 the Eagles allowed to Blackman. The Pirates, whose closest game to date is a 27-point win over Sequatchie County, is scoring at a 45.3 clip for a 38.3 scoring differential.
Time to shine: If Signal is able to keep Jajuan Lankford, one of the area rushing leaders with 134.7 yards per game, and Demetric Johnson (117.7 ypg) in check, South Pittsburg quarterback Jake Stone may have to limber up the throwing arm. Stone has yet to throw an interception in 48 attempts. However, primary wideout Antonio Chubb has been hampered by a broken hand, so receiving chores may fall to Matt Allen. He’s coming off a 100-yard performance against Marion County last week. Signal quarterback Reese Phillips is on pace for a 2,000-yard season, having completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 1,095 yards and 12 TDs in five games. The Eagles also have a power running game featuring 230-pound Tim McClendon and 200-pound Zack Bowman. Because of a rotation, each is averaging slightly more than 50 yards per game while quicker Andrew Price (185) is also getting about 50.
OOLTEWAH OWLS (3-2) at EAST RIDGE PIONEERS (1-3)
Last time: Ooltewah won 23-6 in 2004.
This time: While Ooltewah is looking to break a two-game losing streak, East Ridge hasn’t won since a season-opening victory at Walker Valley. Still, the Pioneers are allowing only about 12 points per game and the double digits are primarily because of the 34 they gave up against Red Bank. They are especially tough against the run, and Ooltewah has been predominently a passing team. The Owls, behind quarterback Bradley Stephens, got off to a 3-0 start but have lost their last two (Siegel, McMinn County).
Time to shine: Stephens has thrown for 240 yards per game, mostly to Mikhail Creech, Matt Sealor and P.J. Toney. The defense, anchored by James Stone, Jay Rudwall and Stuart Doss, was the catalyst in the 3-0 start. East Ridge continues to use Demetrius Bumpass and Eric McCurdy at QB and they’re averaging 150 combined passing yards with one interception. Aaron Sternes leads a handful of runners with double-digit rushing attempts.
SODDY-DAISY TROJANS (1-3) at CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (2-2)
Last time: Soddy-Daisy won 28-0 in 2004.
This time: The Trojans finally got a win this year by beating Rhea County last week. Central got back to .500 with a hard-fought victory over winless Howard.
Time to shine: The Trojans were able to spring running back Cedric Edwards for 222 yards last week, giving him a per-game average of 136. They’re not shy about putting the ball in the air, though, with Brett Standifer averaging slightly more than 150 yards per game while throwing to Matt Abens and C.J. Brown. How well Soddy-Daisy defends the run may determine the outcome of this one. In four games, quarterback Ladarrius Jackson has attempted 25 passes. Primary runners are Robert Cobb, Niko Timoshchuk, Taquan Johnson and Jackson.
CLEVELAND BLUE RAIDERS (2-3) at RED BANK LIONS (4-0)
Last time: Red Bank won 31-7 last year.
This time: Recent history tells us this could be a mismatch, but modern history tells us maybe not. The Lions have outscored the Blue Raiders 83-13 in the last two meetings, but despite being the undefeated team here, Red Bank’s average allowance of 26 points per game in 2011 is more than Cleveland’s 22.4. Overcoming 16 penalties, the Blue Raiders beat Walker Valley — the teams’ one common opponent to date — by seven last week. The Lions beat the Mustangs by four on Sept. 9.
Time to shine: With Pittsburgh QB recruit Chad Voytik limited to 116 yards on 7-of-14 passing last week, Cleveland teammate C.J. Bryant delivered with 177 yards on 16 rushes. Fellow running back David Morgan gave support with 15 carries for 85 yards, and each ran for a TD. Linebacker Trent Crouch had an interception. Red Bank’s two-QB system has produced 820 passing yards — 592 by Niquia McDuffie — Hagen Wilkey has completed 70.8 percent of his 24 throws. Deres Benn has 19 catches for an average of 100.3 yards per game and he leads with three interceptions. Linebacker Jake Parker is the tackles leader (40) and he has five for loss, as does lineman Ed Coker.
NORTHWEST WHITFIELD BRUINS (2-1, 2-1) at CHATTAHOOCHEE COUGARS (2-1, 2-1)
Last time: Chattahoochee won 45-15 last year.
This time: Much has changed since the two last met. The Bruins have a new head coach in Josh Robinson, and the Cougars, fresh off a 15-0, state-championship season, have put 16 new starters on the field. This game is pivotal for the postseason picture in 7-AAAA, especially if either team wants to get a home playoff game. The loser, while still in the hunt, likely will be playing for a third or fourth seed at best.
Time to shine: Northwest has found its identity offensively with a switch this year to the I-formation, which maximizes the talents of running backs Nathan Sistrunk (5-11, 195) and Alex Herd (5-10, 195). The emergence of quarterback Colter Creswell (6-3, 180) has given the unit a big lift. The defense is built around ends Adam Selby (-2, 245) and Tallon Trew (6-3, 215) and linebacker Trevon Tucker (5-11, 220). Chattahoochee relies on a strong ground game featuring Chase Nelson, but it’s the defense featuring lineman Logan Musser and free safety Will Johnson that has been the strength so far.
GORDON CENTRAL WARRIORS (3-1, 2-1) at DADE COUNTY WOLVERINES (2-1, 0-0)
Last time: Dade won 51-43 in three overtimes last year.
This time: Last year’s shootout was played more to Gordon Central’s pace than Dade coach Bradley Warren wanted, but the Wolverines used the win as a springboard to a playoff berth. Each team graduated most of its offense from that game, but new stars have emerged.
Time to shine: Dade played what Warren termed a near-perfect offensive game in last week’s surprising rout of Armuchee, led by running back David Page’s 200 yards. The key has been the recent development of quarterback Travis Nunley, who executed the team’s wing-T attack flawlessly a week after a lackluster loss to Adairsville. Gordon Central has a four-headed offensive attack, led by running back Jayden Compton and wide receivers D.J. Prather and Tyshaun Clemmons. First-year starting quarterback M.J. Reynolds completes the quartet.