SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (3-3, 2-0) at NOTRE DAME (5-1, 2-0)
Storyline: The game matches the only teams with unbeaten District 7-AA records and should be for the district title, although both have yet to play Sequatchie County. Notre Dame's Irish also still have to play Grundy County and the Eagles have a district game against Chattanooga Christian. The Eagles welcome back outside linebacker Jared Menzel, who missed last week's win over South Pittsburg with an injury. Meanwhile, the Irish will be without two of their key performers. Sidelined by injuries are freshman running back Ricky Ballard (shoulder), who had a 200-yard rushing effort last week, and sophomore linebacker Keely Green (hip), the team's leading tackler. Notre Dame, which has a forfeit victory over Taft Youth Center among its wins, has averaged 34 points per game. Signal has allowed 34.8. A win would allow the Eagles, who have won two in a row, to move above .500 for the first time this year.
EAST RIDGE (0-5, 0-2) at EAST HAMILTON (4-1, 2-0)
Storyline: The Hurricanes look to improve on their best-ever start by claiming a District 6-AA victory over the Pioneers tonight. East Hamilton has been led by running back Logan Jackson, who with 113 yards will eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. The Pioneers will do their best to stop the rush attack, but even so, the Hurricanes have dominated opposing defensive lines with their massive front offensively. That same line also gives quarterback Hunter Moore ample time to throw, and he averages 10-plus yards per attempt and nearly 14 per completion.
RHEA COUNTY (1-5, 0-2) at BRADLEY CENTRAL (3-2, 1-0)
Storyline: What's left of the Golden Eagles team will travel down Highway 60 to Cleveland to face a Bears team riding high after a two-point victory over Blackman last week. In addition to eight out with injuries, Rhea lost backup tailback and starting middle linebacker Jacob York, who was ejected in a loss to Fulton. Bradley had a complete effort, led by quarterback Bryce Copeland. This game usually is a battle, but this time the Bears go in with more barrels in the gun to start.
WALKER VALLEY (3-2, 0-1) at McMINN COUNTY (4-1, 2-0)
Storyline: There will be a lot of emotions on the field when these two teams -- separated by 15 miles -- meet tonight. Tailback Kelvin Wells transferred from Walker Valley after rushing for nearly 2,800 yards the two seasons before, but allegedly he took some parting shots on his way out, which has angered the Mustangs. There were rumors questioning his eligibility that surfaced during McMinn's off week, but everything has been sorted out and Wells is expected to play. The Mustangs enter on a two-game skid and are looking for answers to their recent troubles offensively as well as on defense. The hosts look to improve their passing game while relying on Wells and Dre Sanders along with quarterback Corbin Powers to move the ball on the ground.
HIXSON (3-2, 2-0) at TYNER (4-1, 2-0)
Storyline: Both teams still have upcoming games with District 6-AA favorite East Hamilton remaining, so a win is needed to set up a potential winner-take-all district title matchup against the Hurricanes. Hixson is the biggest surprise within the district but is coming off a physical loss to state-ranked DeKalb County and will now go against one of the area's most physical teams. Tyner's defense has two shutouts and held Tullahoma to seven points last week, but Hixson's Allante Novene has game-breaking speed and will put a lot of pressure on the Rams each play.
BRENTOOD ACADEMY (4-1, 2-0) at BAYLOR (4-2, 2-2)
Storyline: While quarterback Michael O'Connor seems finally to be getting comfortable in the Red Raiders' scheme (8-of-12, 216 yards last week), Baylor has a bigger concern this week. BA's Eagles have followed McCallie on Baylor's schedule the last three years and have won two of the games, including 10-7 last year in Nashville. They have allowed just three scores in a four-game win streak that followed a season-opening loss to Louisville (Ky.) Trinity. The streak includes a 62-0 win over Father Ryan on Sept. 14. First-year coach Cody White and his staff also will have had two weeks to prepare for the Red Raiders. D'montre Wade is the Eagles' leading rusher with 316 yards on 38 carries, and quarterbacks Max Staver and Tyler Swafford have combined for eight TD passes.
BATTLE GROUND ACADEMY (4-2, 1-2) at McCALLIE (2-3, 1-2)
Storyline: McCallie's Blue Tornado have spent the week recovering from an emotional 28-26 loss to crosstown rival Baylor. The Wildcats started the season with four straight wins but were thumped 41-0 by Montgomery Bell Academy two weeks ago and 35-7 by Ensworth last week. McCallie's offensive line had a good game last week and paved the way for speed backs Samir Usman and Alex Trotter on the end and fullback Chat Toliver up the middle. Quarterback Nelson Johnston has been steady under center, including an 11-of-16 passing performance against Baylor. The Tornado also must polish their kicking game. A blocked extra point proved important in the two-point loss.
SODDY-DAISY (2-3, 1-1) at OOLTEWAH (3-3, 0-2)
Storyline: These teams look to be on the fringe of the state-playoffs picture, but pride always is on the line when Hamilton County's largest schools meet in any sport. The visiting Trojans play a physical brand of football. Ooltewah may have an edge in team speed, but will it be able to spring some skill-position players for big plays? The line is banged up and so is the secondary, which is not good news going against a veteran quarterback such as Brett Standifer. The Owls do have leading rusher T.J. Davis back from an ankle injury, albeit in a limited capacity for now. Ooltewah coach Shannon Williams said his quarterback, Brody Binder, stepped up his game in last week's victory over East Ridge and is coming off a good week of practice. Linebacker Stuart Doss not only is the Owls' leading tackler, but he's caused two fumbles, recovered three and returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns.
LOOKOUT VALLEY (4-2, 1-1) at MARION COUNTY (4-2, 1-1)
Storyline: The Yellow Jackets notched their first win over Marion's Warriors last season, and playoff positioning is on the line. This is the final District 6-A game for both, so second place in the league will be determined by the outcome. Marion is coming off its first shutout win since the seventh game of 2009 and is beginning to get back a few of the starters who have missed action because of injury. Lookout Valley's offense has scored at least three touchdowns in all but one game. It's led by quarterback Vann Scribner, who has thrown for more than 700 yards and rushed for more than 400, and Jamal Jones, one of the area's top rushers who averages 132 yards per game. Marion fullback Blake Zeman also is among the area's rushing leaders, averaging 136 yards per game, and is the team's top tackler.
BRAINERD (1-4, 0-2) at HOWARD (1-4, 1-1)
Storyline: Brainerd is coming off its first win of the year. Howard picked up its first victory two weeks ago, but this is one win both teams particularly covet. The host Hustlin' Tigers have won three of the last five meetings, although Brainerd used a 33-12 victory last year to start a roll into the playoffs. Howard's primary offensive weapon is quarterback Terrance Brooks, who is 10 yards shy of the 1,000-yard passing mark for the year. The junior also leads his team in rushing. He has relied on receivers Christopher Walton, LaWayne Ruffin, Jeremy Davis and Rashad Brummitt. Brainerd counters with quarterback Sam Caffey and a host of running backs, including Christopher Davis and Tre Davenport.
RED BANK (1-4, 1-1) at CENTRAL (1-4, 0-2)
Storyline: Each continues to hold a mathematical shot at the playoffs, but tonight's loser is as good as gone. Fate hasn't been kind to either, Red Bank giving up fourth-quarter leads in losses to Hixson and Soddy-Daisy and Central fumbling away chances against Polk County and Howard. Soddy-Daisy is the lone common opponent to date, and the Purple Pounders beat them in overtime last week for their only win. "They're as good a 1-4 team as I've ever seen," Lions coach E.K. Slaughter said of Central. While Red Bank has struggled, Slaughter has been happy with the play of linebacker/return man Vincent Gordon, running back Darrius Akridge and receiver Chris Tucker. Central leaders have been quarterback Dominique Dawson, lineman Jamel Metcalf and most recently running back Kevin McKenzie.
SEQUATCHIE COUNTY (1-5, 0-2) at BLEDSOE COUNTY (1-4, 0-2)
Storyline: These are young teams that had high hopes of repeating 2011 playoff appearances. It's been tough going, each suffering from rookie mistakes. The lack of a consistent passing game has allowed Bledsoe opponents to hone in on top Warriors running back Holden Boynton. The visiting Indians had hopes of capitalizing on quarterback Dylan Harvey but have fallen back on their running game and Jake Pickett, Austin Lamb and Blake Cates. The neighboring teams have split the last four meetings, including a one-point playoff victory for the Indians, and it's easy to see why this battle of neighboring county schools always seems to attract a full house.
GRACE ACADEMY (1-4, 0-1) at COPPER BASIN (5-1, 0-1)
Storyline: The records are almost polar opposites, and Grace's Golden Eagles are giving up more points per game than the 31.6 Copper Basin is averaging. However, they hope what they've learned by playing the level of competition they've played to date will pay dividends the second half of the season. Josh Smith's 19 completions have gone for 410 yards and five touchdowns for Grace, but he's also the second-leading rusher with 49 carries for 365 yards and five more TDs. Drew Shumaker's 218 receiving yards is 143 more than that of his next-closest teammate. The Cougars felt more assured about their defense coming into the season than their offense, but first-year quarterback Dylan Boggs has made things go. Austin Powell leads Grace with 48 solo tackles, but he'll need plenty of help if the Golden Eagles are to slow Copper Basin. He's also the punter (33.6 avg.), so he could help the defense by keeping the Cougard bottled up.
GORDON CENTRAL (4-0, 1-0) at LAKEVIEW-FORT OGLETHORPE (4-0, 1-0)
Storyline: An early share of first place in Region 5-AAA is on the line between surprising teams. The game features potent offenses that go about it differently. Gordon Central rides the short-passing game of quarterback M.J. Reynolds, who is completing better than 70 percent of his passes and has a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. LFO, on the other hand, is a run-first team that relies on senior tailback Pooh Harden, who has rushed for 604 yards and five touchdowns. LFO has yet to face a passing team, so early defensive adjustments will be key.
SCOTTSBORO (0-4) at NORTH JACKSON (2-2)
Storyline: While it is not a region game, the cross-county matchup is one of the area's most heated rivalries. The host Chiefs have won the last eight meetings, the last seven by 12 or more points. They appear to be finding their footing this season, winning their last two games after opening the season with two losses for the first time in program history. Last week North Jackson used 10 runners to rush for a season-best 292 yards to go with Kit Grider's 232 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs scored on their first eight possessions. Scottsboro has been outscored 70-29 in the first half this season. The Wildcats are led by Collin Warren and Trey Lewis, who have each rushed for 125 yards in four games.
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