Bledsoe County (1-1, 0-0) at Signal Mountain (0-2, 0-0)
Storyline: Signal continues to struggle and the Eagles need breakout performances on both sides of the ball in their first district test. Bledsoe is four points shy of being 2-0 after losing 39-38 to Marion County last week. However, the Warriors struggled the week before in a one-point win over Cumberland County. The Eagles have allowed 490 rushing yards in two games, and Bledsoe's Holden Boynton has had games of 257 and 135 yard. Signal can get better along the offensive line and at receiver — and must if its running game is to supplement the passing of quarterback Reese Phillips.
Brainerd (0-2, 0-0) at Tyner (1-0, 0-0)
Storyline: Brainerd's Panthers have a history of being slow starters, but this is a rivalry game and Tyner is coming off a big win over Signal Mountain. Brainerd was without quarterback Sam Caffey last week, and versatile Tre Davenport's status is questionable according to Panthers coach Stanley Jackson. Tyner, which throws rarely, was able to spring Joseph Sturkey often enough against Signal, even though the Eagles stacked the line of scrimmage. The Rams showed a lot of intensity and enthusiasm, something coach Wayne Turner hasn't consistently seen the last few years.
East Ridge (0-2, 0-0) at Red Bank (0-1, 0-0)
Storyline: The visiting Pioneers, who have scored just 10 points in two games, are going through some personnel adjustments including a change to sophomore JoJo Tillery at quarterback. The Lions, despite flashes of promise, were often out of sync on both sides of the ball and gave up crucial yardage in third-down situations last week. Coach E.K. Slaughter vowed after the season-opening loss to Soddy-Daisy that Red Bank would be better this week. There was plenty for the Lions to polish this week from missing tackles to blown blocking assignments. A positive, though, had to be the receiving corps.
Ensworth (2-0, 0-0) at McCallie (0-1, 0-0)
Storyline: The two-time defending Division II-AA state champion Tigers look to be at peak performance already, while McCallie struggled in its season opener last week. Ensworth traveled to Kentucky and thumped Lexington Catholic 62-14 last weekend in a nationally televised game. Running back Corn Elder ran for 199 yards and four touchdowns and is averaging 11.3 yards per carry in two games. In Ralph Potter's return to the McCallie sideline, the Blue Tornado defense left him frustrated by allowing 439 total yards in a six-point loss at McMinn County. Tonight Potter can measure just how big the rebuilding project is.
Father Ryan (2-0, 0-0) at Baylor (2-0, 0-0)
Storyline: The visiting Purple Irish are running a triple-option offense but have scored just two offensive TDs. They've won twice with kicker Luke Strebel, who had three field goals in last week's win over Cane Ridge, and a defense that picked off four passes. The interception ratio has to be a concern for Baylor, which used its first two games to break in new quarterbacks Michael O'Conner and Nick Tiano. Red Raiders coach Phil Massey hoped to have a starter picked when the team began Division II-AA East/Middle play but said they would continue to alternate this week. He doesn't have to be in a hurry because the running game, keyed by George Porter and Houston Clements, has been extraordinary the first two weeks.
Sequatchie County (1-1, 0-0) at Grundy County (0-2, 0-0)
Storyline: The host Yellow Jackets are winless but have shown in the past they could rebound. They were 1-2 a year ago and got into the state playoffs. They lost their first five games in 2009 before rallying to make the postseason. They have gone to senior receiver Josh Rhea at quarterback after losing freshman passing phenom Houston Mainord to a broken collarbone last week. Sequatchie improved dramatically from an opening loss with a victory at Meigs County. The Indians got dividends from the combined efforts of quarterback Dylan Harvey (5-of-6 passing) and Jake Pickett, who gained 183 yards on eight carries. This will be the third week that Grundy has faced a wing-T offense and a 3-3 stack defense.
Boyd-Buchanan (2-0, 0-0) at Silverdale Baptist Academy (2-0, 0-0)
Storyline: The Buccaneers under coach Grant Reynolds pride themselves on defense, and in two wins they have yet to surrender a score. If Silverdale is to change that, senior quarterback Spencer Mossburg and his receiving corps must respond in the District 5-A game. The Seahawks have gotten by on their running game the first two weeks with Mossburg being limited to six completions. Count on Boyd-Buchanan crowding the line of scrimmage this week. The Bucs' Rance Harden came into the season established as a linebacker but has emerged on the other side, too. He leads them in carries (32), rushing yards (232) and touchdowns (four).
Cleveland (0-2, 0-0) at Ooltewah (2-0, 0-0)
Storyline: Cleveland's rugged early-season schedule continues with a District 5-AAA trip to "the Nest," where the Owls will be playing for the first time this year. Blue Raiders quarterback Austin Herink threw the ball 57 times in their season-opening loss against powerhouse Maryville and without an interception. Putting it up that many times against a speedy Owls secondary could produce a different result. Ooltewah sputtered offensively against Brainerd but last week found some big-play magic against county rival East Hamilton. One quick strike was an 84-yard bomb from Brody Binder to Andrew Ware after the running game was firmly established. The Owls shuttle three backs in and out, and each has more than 15 carries.
Notre Dame (1-1, 0-0) at Chattanooga Christian (0-2, 0-0)
Storyline: If the pattern holds, Notre Dame's up-and-down season is due to be up this week. The 39-point margin in its opening-week victory over Grace Academy seemed as staggering as the 21-point margin in its loss to McMinn Central. The Fighting Irish take to the road for the first time in 2012, having been plagued with multiple injuries to starters already, but they've shown explosiveness. They've scored 72 points and Chattanooga Christian has given up 65. The Chargers' Levi Corbett has put the ball in the air 61 times for 316 yards but has one TD pass to show for it. CCS won the District 7-AA game 30-28 game last year. This one could play out similarly.
Bradley Central (1-1) at Soddy-Daisy (1-1)
Storyline: Bradley coach Damon Floyd looks to improve to 3-1 on the road against the Trojans, who are riding high off their win over Red Bank. The hosts will have to find a way to contain dual-threat quarterback Bryce Copeland while also continuing to improve their execution. The Bears will rely on a back-by-committee, as starter Logan Fetzner will be limited following an ankle injury against Baylor. They'll also need to limit penalties (11 last week) and turnovers (five) against a new-look Trojans defense.
Howard (0-1) at Hixson (0-1)
Storyline: Both teams' head coaches will be looking for their first wins at their programs, as Howard's Michael Calloway is 0-10 and Jason Fitzgerald is 0-1 with the Wildcats. Hixson was humbled in its opener last week at home against Walker Valley, and Fitzgerald said one cause was the defensive backs not staying in their lanes. They'll be tested this week by an athletic Howard team led by quarterback Terrance Brooks.
Heritage (0-0) at Ringgold (0-1)
Storyline: Ringgold enters following a disappointing two-point loss to Dalton in which the Tigers made critical mistakes in the kicking game, with penalties and a turnover in the red zone. Sophomore Kile Sholl imprssed coach Robert Akins in his debut, as did quarterback Slade Dale, Austin Phelps and Zach Morris. Linebacker Dakota Baer will have a different challenge from Heritage and its spread attack. The Generals are playing their first game of the season, which puts them at a disadvantage in first-game jitters -- in a rivalry game, no less.
Ridgeland at Calhoun
Storyline: This highly anticipated matchup features two distinctly different offensive philosophies. Calhoun's defending Georgia AA champion Yellow Jackets have a prolific passing attack led by quarterback Taylor Lamb, who led the state in passing yards last season. Ridgeland runs the wing-T and will try to batter a Calhoun defense that returns only one starter with running back Darrell Bridges behind a massive offensive line. If the Panthers can get uber-athlete Vonn Bell involved in the offense with short passes and reverses, it will force the Yellow Jackets to back off from their usual blitz-happy defensive package.
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