SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES (6-3, 4-0) at SEQUATCHIE COUNTY INDIANS (5-4, 3-1)
Storyline: The District 7-AA championship is on the line. Signal can take it with a win while Sequatchie would need to win and Grundy County beat Notre Dame to get it. It could be a fast-paced game with neither the Eagles nor the Indians wasting much time with a passing game. The Eagles have used 260-pound FB James McClellan to set up WBs Diamez Franklin, Hunter VanDyken and Kaleb Menzel. While McClellan has surpassed 1,000 yards, Franklin is 178 yards shy. Sequatchie RB/LB Blake Cates was chosen player of the week for last Friday's performance against Boyd-Buchanan.
RED BANK LIONS (3-6, 3-2) at TYNER RAMS (3-6, 3-2)
Storyline: They're tied in the District 6-AA standings. Tyner, which had to forfeit two wins (ineligible player), can finish second with a win. Red Bank needs a win and a lot of help to maintain hopes of slipping into the state playoffs. The Rams have won three straight, all district games. Red Bank broke a three-game losing streak last week with a win over Howard.
EAST RIDGE PIONEERS (4-5, 3-2) at HOWARD HUSTLIN' TIGERS (1-8, 0-5)
Storyline: Playoff scenarios aside, Pioneers coach Tracy Malone had no trouble getting his team's attention. He mentioned Loudon, which beat the Pioneers by 35, and then reminds his team that the Tigers beat Loudon (27-20). After losing to Tyner last week, East Ridge needs a win to strengthen its playoff standing. The Tigers have had three straight losing seasons, but a win would allow them to match last year's victory total.
HIXSON WILDCATS (7-2, 5-0) at BRAINERD PANTHERS (2-7, 2-3)
Storyline: Has Brainerd played out the string and turned its attention to the upcoming basketball season? If not, the Panthers are coming off an open date and Hixson may have spent too much time celebrating the District 6-AA championship it secured last week. It's still a big game for the Wildcats because another win likely will enhance hosting opportunities for the postseason. If Hixson wins it would be the Wildcats' first league title in 15 years and their first back-to-back seasons with at least seven wins since 1963-64.
BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (5-4, 2-3) at FATHER RYAN FIGHTIN' IRISH (6-3, 3-2)
Storyline: Father Ryan is fighting for the Division II-AA East/Middle third-place spot and a first-week bye in the state playoffs. The Red Raiders cannot get a bye, but a win would get them a host role next week against Pope John Paul II. A loss would leave them hosting McCallie. The game will match Baylor's George Porter, a 1,000-yard rusher, against Ryan's Joseph Holzmer and Dekeivis Perry. Baylor's Rafael Gaglianone kicked three field goals, including a 57-yarder, in a 16-9 loss to Ensworth last week.
MONTGOMERY BELL ACADEMY BIG RED (8-1, 4-1) at McCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (3-6, 1-4)
Storyline: Since an Oct. 4 loss to Ensworth (by 14), MBA has won two straight games, including 20-17 against Father Ryan, which beat McCallie 34-18 last week. It was the Blue Tornado's sixth consecutive loss in a season of tough games and immaturity in what was thought to be a rebuilding year. They'll likely be without WRs C.J. Fritts (ankle) and Spencer Morgan (knee) and definitely will play without DB Sam Viscomi (knee) and LB Tanner Winters (shoulder).
NOTRE DAME IRISH (6-3, 3-1) at GRUNDY COUNTY YELLOW JACKETS (4-5, 2-2)
Storyline: Both teams are in the state-playoff picture. A win for the Irish could improve a projected third- or fourth-place quadrant seeding, while a Grundy win would cement a likely playoff invitation. Notre Dame had several players out of practice because of sickness early in the week. The Irish's Joe Dossett had surgery last week, and though done for season he was out this week encouraging his offensive and defensive line mates. The Jackets' Michael Nolan has 1,214 rushing yards and QB Houston Mainord has thrown for almost 1,300. The Irish's speed with RB Auston Banks and WR Kareem Orr could be a factor.
RHEA COUNTY EAGLES (8-1, 4-0) at STONE MEMORIAL PANTHERS (6-3, 2-2)
Storyline: The Eagles already have clinched the District 6-AAA championship. Even with a couple of freshmen in the backfield last week, they surprised many by beating East Hamilton and moved up to third in the TSSAA's latest computer rankings for Class 5A teams. They're currently in a postseason quadrant with East Hamilton, Cleveland, Ooltewah, White County, Oak Ridge and these same Panthers.
BLEDSOE COUNTY WARRIORS (2-7, 0-4) At CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN CHARGERS (2-7, 0-4)
Storyline: There's little to play for other than securing a District 7-AA win because neither will be in the state playoffs. This game, though, has been entertaining in the past -- an offensive coordinator's dream. Three of the last four have been decided by four or fewer points, and in three of the last four the winner has scored at least 40 points. Last year CCS got one of its two wins, 60-56. The previous two seasons Bledsoe won 43-42 and 25-11. In 2009, Jason Reel's first year as its coach, Bledsoe won 63-34.
MEIGS COUNTY TIGERS (2-7, 0-5) at TELLICO PLAINS BEARS (6-3, 3-2)
Storyline: Tellico Plains is No. 13 in the TSSAA's Class 2A playoff rankings and is looking to move up in a stiff quadrant. A win over the Tigers might not help the Bears much, but a loss would be devastating. Meigs was in the state playoffs two years ago but finished 5-6. The Tigers, with little more than a prayer at the playoffs, are closing out their sixth straight losing season.
SOUTH PITTSBURG PIRATES (8-1, 3-0) AT MARION COUNTY WARRIORS (8-1, 3-0)
Storyline: The District 6-A championship will be decided as the rivals face off in the season finale for the first time in more than 30 years. The Warriors are looking for their first league title since 1995 and will try to break a seven-year skid against the Pirates, their longest drought in the series. Both teams have all-state running backs with more than 1,400 yards so far and both run the wing-T, but they use different approaches. The Warriors want to use FB Blake Zeman's battering-ram style, while the Pirates prefer to get Jajuan Lankford on the edge with his speed advantage.
SALE CREEK PANTHERS (0-9, 0-3) AT LOOKOUT VALLEY YELLOW JACKETS (0-9, 0-3)
Storyline: It's been an eye-opening experience for the Panthers in their first varsity season, while Lookout Valley has been plagued by injuries and the lack of experience and depth playing behind those banged-up starters. The winner will at least take something positive into the offseason.
BRADLEY CENTRAL BEARS (5-4, 2-3) at EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES (7-2, 4-1)
Storyline: A win tonight gives the Hurricanes a share of the 5-AAA championship -- a title they'll hold outright if Ooltewah loses to McMinn County. A win by Bradley would propel Cleveland to the district title, plus give the Bears a two-game win streak headed into the playoffs. The visitors will try to get their rushing attack started, along with creating big plays for WRs Cal Pickel and Dee Crisp, while the Hurricanes will continue to ride the arm of NCAA Division I QB recruit Hunter Moore.
WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS (3-6, 0-5) at SODDY-DAISY TROJANS (3-6, 0-5)
Storyline: It's the season finale for teams whose seasons didn't live up to expectations. "It's going to be pretty evenly matched," Mustangs coach Glen Ryan said. "They've got a few skill kids and we've got a few skill kids. We've both struggled with better teams."
OOLTEWAH OWLS (7-2, 4-1) at McMINN COUNTY CHEROKEES (4-5, 3-2)
Storyline: The Owls have the potential to finish the season as District 5-AAA champions. They will be without senior RB Desmond Pittman for what coach Mac Bryan called "a school-related issue." Ooltewah lineman David Strickland should return, as well as LB Jeremiah Jackson, who has recovered from an ankle injury.
CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (4-5) at McMINN CENTRAL CHARGERS (4-5)
Storyline: State playoff fortunes could be at stake for Class 4A Central and Class 3A McMinn Central. Chargers coach Josh Goodin said they have a chance to get in at 4-6, but for certain the seeding would be much better at 5-5. Both teams like to run it, so expect a physical battle. McMinn Central's Denzel Boyd will be the top rusher on the field with 1,165 yards.
SILVERDALE BAPTIST ACADEMY SEAHAWKS (9-0, 2-0) at BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (3-6, 2-0)
Storyline: The District 5-A title is in the balance. Boyd-Buchanan has some young defenders who are going to have to tackle well to give their team a shot at winning. Bucs QB Jim Cardwell will also have an important task at safety this week as they try to limit what passing the Seahawks do and make them one-dimensional. Silverdale wants to control the ball offensively and is difficult to impede when it plays close to mistake-free.
COPPER BASIN COUGARS (1-8, 0-2) at GRACE ACADEMY GOLDEN EAGLES (3-6, 0-2)
Storyline: Thanks to a 48-20 victory over Class 2A Jackson County last week, Grace Academy is in position for a possible Class 1A state-playoff berth if it wins the District 5-A game. Grace coach Bob Ateca said the games are always physical when these teams meet. He's hoping it being at home and senior night will add to his team's motivation.
LOUDON REDSKINS (3-6, 0-3) at POLK COUNTY WILDCATS (7-2, 3-0)
Storyline: The Wildcats already have clinched the District 5-AA title, but there is still reason for motivation. Having gone unbeaten in its last 20 league games, Polk County could have a second consecutive graduating class with no loss in their careers to a district opponent. This one features physical teams that like to run the ball. Multiple starters were injured early on for the Redskins, but since their return they've gone 3-1.
COAHULLA CREEK COLTS (2-6, 1-4) at NORTH MURRAY MOUNTAINEERS (2-6, 1-4)
Storyline: North Murray won a shootout last week, which could have propelled the Mountaineers' momentum all the way into next season under first-year coach David Gann. This is a winnable game for them, as is the season finale next week at Gordon Central.
SONORAVILLE PHOENIX (3-5, 3-2) at CARTERSVILLE HURRICANES (8-0, 5-0)
Storyline: The Phoenix are back on track after beating Gordon Central last week, but the Hurricanes have been an offensive machine with 55 touchdowns scored this season. Cartersville QB Brooks Barden averages 234.5 passing yards per game, and the Cartersville receiving duo of T.L. Ford and Mark Quattlebaum have combined for 49 receptions, 967 yards and 13 touchdowns.
DADE COUNTY WOLVERINES (5-3, 3-2) at CHATTOOGA INDIANS (2-6, 2-3)
Storyline: Dade County coach Bradley Warren isn't holding back. "It's a big ballgame," he said. "If we win, we're in [the Georgia playoffs]. We're at least assured fourth place." Warren is counting on experienced players, including lineman Reid Hulgan, LB Teddy Cole, S Hayden Johnson and QB Houston Poston. Warren also wants his special teams to play better.
CHRISTIAN HERITAGE LIONS (6-2, 2-1) at TRION BULLDOGS (5-2, 2-1)
Storyline: Both teams are playing for a No. 2 seeding, which will face the No. 3-seeded team on the road next week. The following week, it's possible the winner could open the playoffs at home. The connection of Trevor Brown to Nick Bartley has been effective all season for the Lions. The Bulldogs, with Cory Bethune, aren't afraid to throw. Their size on the line could wear down the Lions with Bethune, Malik Martin and Chandler Lathem running behind it.
GORDON LEE TROJANS (3-4, 0-3) at MOUNT ZION, CARROLL, EAGLES (3-4, 0-3)
Storyline: This is the last chance for either team to earn a league win this season in their respective nine-game schedules. The Trojans have one touchdown in their last four games, while the Eagles have been on the wrong ends of blowouts the last two weeks.
SOUTHEAST WHITFIELD RAIDERS (4-4, 2-2) at DALTON CATAMOUNTS (6-2, 4-0)
Storyline: The Raiders can earn that signature win they've been searching for and at the same time secure a shot at a playoff play-in game next week by downing the Catamounts. To do so, Southeast has to establish an offensive identity, and sophomore QB Will Swantic, who now has 1,100 yards of total offense in limited action, will be the key in a more passing-friendly attack. Dalton, though, has elite defenders in Eder Mora, Lyle Durham and Devonte Davis.
HERITAGE GENERALS (1-7, 1-3) at RIDGELAND PANTHERS (2-6, 1-3)
Storyline: The Generals, after a mistake-filled first half against Dalton, get to face an angry Ridgeland team that just saw its playoff hopes take a hit. The Panthers, can still reach the all-important No. 3 week-10 play-in position with a win tonight, a Southeast Whitfield loss to Dalton and a LaFayette loss to Northwest Whitfield. The Ridgeland ground game is alive and well behind Noah Cooper, Caderius Word and gang, but finishing drives has been an issue.
LaFAYETTE RAMBLERS (1-7, 1-3) at NORTHWEST WHITFIELD BRUINS (7-1, 3-1)
Storyline: Coming off a shocking win over Walker County rival Ridgeland, the Ramblers face a much more balanced team in the Bruins. LaFayette needs another elite game from QB Lance Estus. The defense, which allowed 450 yards rushing last week, has to clamp down on Northwest big-play WRs Tevin McDaniel (19 yards per catch) and Andy Whisenant.
LAKEVIEW-FORT OGLETHORPE WARRIORS (3-5, 2-3) at RINGGOLD TIGERS (7-1, 5-0)
Storyline: The Warriors blew a chance to lock up a playoff berth a week ago, allowing 63 points to North Murray, but a chance to knock the Tigers out of a first-place tie would help heal that wound. To do so, though, mistakes have to be eliminated and a shaken defense has to find a way to get the ball out of electric Tigers QB Slade Dale's hands.
ADAIRSVILLE TIGERS (5-3, 3-2) at GORDON CENTRAL WARRIORS (0-8, 0-5)
Storyline: Adairsville can clinch the No. 3 playoff spot in Region 5-AAA against a Gordon Central team going through an injury-plagued nightmare of a season. One bright spot, though, has been the play of junior TE/LB Nate Mays, who has a 200-yard receiving game to his credit.
CALHOUN YELLOW JACKETS (7-1, 5-0) at MODEL BLUE DEVILS (7-1, 5-0)
Storyline: Normally at this time of the year the Jackets are eyeing possible first-round playoff foes, but the upstart Blue Devils have gotten their attention. The Austin Byrd-led Calhoun defense, which has not given up a varsity point in five games, will get a test from Model QB Cameron O'Neal and RB Chris Dublin, who combined for four touchdowns and more than 400 yards in last week's win over Coosa.
PEPPERELL DRAGONS (2-6, 2-3) at MURRAY COUNTY INDIANS (1-7, 0-5)
Storyline: The Indians and first-year coach Chad Brewer can play spoiler against a Pepperell team still in the playoff hunt in Region 7-AA. Finding points, though, has been difficult, with only seven in the last three games combined. Murray QB Justin Smith, who has more than 1,300 yards of total offense, needs help.
Get breaking news from the Times Free Press on Twitter at www.twitter.com/timesfreepress