Games 7:30 p.m. EDT unless noted.
KNOXVILLE GRACE CHRISTIAN RAMS (6-0, 2-0) at MEIGS COUNTY TIGERS (1-4, 0-2)
Storyline: The Rams were the preseason favorites in District 3-AA and have done nothing to disappoint. The Tigers may be playing to try to avoid embarrassment.
SWEETWATER WILDCATS (3-2, 1-0) at McMINN CENTRAL CHARGERS (2-4, 0-2)
Storyline: The Wildcats use multiple sets offensively and show different fronts defensively, but McMinn Central coach Josh Goodin said their results are a model of consistency. They may not produce many big plays, but conversely they don’t allow many. The Chargers were successful running from a power formation last week, so they may showcase more of that.
BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (1-4, 0-0) at GRACE ACADEMY GOLDEN EAGLES (1-4, 0-0)
Storyline: Grace will test the Bucs’ defense with its option-based rushing attack. But Boyd-Buchanan is coming off its best defensive effort of the year, holding a Donelson Christian Academy team that was averaging 41.4 points per game to a touchdown and three field goals. Bucs coach Grant Reynolds said his team’s passing game has been “pretty good” but needs to do a better job establishing the run.
BRADLEY CENTRAL BEARS (4-1, 1-0) at OOLTEWAH OWLS (5-1, 2-0)
Storyline: Ooltewah (41.2 ppg through the first five games) features a balanced offense but showed last week it could win a 10-3 defensive struggle. Bradley coach Damon Floyd said the Owls are the most complete team his team will have faced. His counterpart, Mac Bryan, said the Bears rarely give up anything cheap. Injured RB Desmond Pittman practiced some this week, but Bryan said his availability tonight will be a game-time decision.
RHEA COUNTY GOLDEN EAGLES (4-1, 2-0) at COOKEVILLE CAVALIERS (5-1, 2-0), 8
Storyline: The Golden Eagles can seize the inside track of District 6-AAA with a road win. Rhea has averaged 42.4 points and 238.8 rushing yards per game, led by backs Dimitrius Patterson, Jacob York and Jobe Berry. The Cavaliers have allowed a shade over 100 yards rushing per game and less than 13 points, so Rhea QB Austin Dotson — who averages 23 yards per completion — could be the key.
SODDY-DAISY TROJANS (2-3, 0-2) at McMINN COUNTY CHEROKEES (1-4, 0-1)
Storyline: The Trojans jumped to a 2-0 start but have dropped three straight — including two in 5-AAA play. The Cherokees have four consecutive losses, all to teams currently ranked in state polls, and have struggled at times to get their running game going. The battle may go to which team gets its preferred method of attack going — the Cherokees running or the Trojans passing.
CLEVELAND BLUE RAIDERS (4-2, 2-0) at EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES (4-1, 1-1)
Storyline: With the amount of talent on the field tonight, points are to be expected. The key to the game for both sides will be the ability of their defenses to create turnovers and get off the field on third down. There are great matchups all over the field — none bigger than the Blue Raiders receivers, paced by D.J. Jones’ 14 total touchdowns, against the Hurricanes secondary, led by Vanderbilt commitment Tre Herndon.
LOOKOUT VALLEY YELLOW JACKETS (0-5, 0-1) at WHITWELL TIGERS (1-5, 0-2)
Storyline: It’s basically a playoff elimination game for both teams. The winner still will have an outside chance of earning a postseason spot, while the loser will not.
SALE CREEK PANTHERS (0-5, 0-1) at MARION COUNTY WARRIORS (5-1, 2-0)
Storyline: This is the perfect opportunity for the Warriors to work on a few new wrinkles they might use for the playoffs and to get younger players some game experience.
McCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (3-3, 1-1) at BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (4-1, 1-1)
Storyline: The old rivals have taken very different approaches to the first half of the season. While Baylor’s opponents have a 13-15 overall record, McCallie has been tested by a slate that has included four state-ranked teams, including the last two who were nationally ranked, and two of its losses were by less than a touchdown. How well Baylor defends McCallie’s dual-threat sophomore QB JaVaughn Craig will go a long way in determining the outcome, while the Red Raiders also need big plays from senior RB George Porter. If it comes down to a field goal, Baylor’s Rafael Gaglianone is in range from 65 yards in.
NOTRE DAME IRISH (4-1, 2-0) at SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES (4-2, 2-0)
Storyline: Eagles RB James McClellan is 59 yards from 1,000, and Diamez Franklin is more than halfway there. Notre Dame will throw, but probably not that much more than the Eagles despite the presence of WR Kareem Orr, especially with Auston Banks, who’s averaging 145.8 yards per game.
TYNER RAMS (1-4, 0-1) at CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (2-3, 0-2)
Storyline: While Tyner was finally securing its first win of season last Friday, the Pounders were off and thus have had two weeks to rest and prepare. Rams coach Wayne Turner said the performance in the win over Soddy-Daisy was really no different than in previous games— good at times, ugly at times. Central is averaging nine penalties and four turnovers. The Pounders are moving Terry Tiller from RB to QB.
BLEDSOE COUNTY WARRIORS (2-4, 0-2) at SEQUATCHIE COUNTY INDIANS (3-2, 2-0), 8
Storyline: Sequatchie remains in the thick of the 7-AA race with Notre Dame and Signal Mountain but has yet to play either while Bledsoe has lost to both. This is a rivalry game that will feature the Indians’ Blake Cates, Dylan Harvey and Keith Billingsley and the Warriors’ Bradley Smith.
POLK COUNTY WILDCATS (4-1, 1-0) at SEQUOYAH CHIEFS (4-1, 2-0)
Storyline: Sequoyah has evolved from a full-time I team into a shotgun-formation, four-wide offense. Wildcats coach Derrick Davis said the Chiefs’ top players appear to be QB James Harris and RB D.J. Austin. The winner of this one will definitely have a leg up on the 5-AA championship.
HOWARD HUSTLIN’ TIGERS (1-4, 0-1) at BRAINERD PANTHERS (0-6, 0-2)
Storyline: The Panthers have improved since being outscored by an average of 55-11 in three of their first four games. They came within two points of Red Bank and, last week, three of Austin-East. Howard’s lone win came against previously winless Loudon two weeks ago. Howard has won seven of the last 10 meetings although the teams have split last four years.
CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN CHARGERS (2-3, 0-2) at GRUNDY COUNTY YELLOW JACKETS (1-5, 0-2), 8
Storyline: Both teams have struggled. CCS has lost three straight after a 2-0 start and Grundy has averaged only a touchdown in its losing streak over the last four weeks. CCS has never beat the Yellow Jackets in the four years it has fielded a team, coming closest (24-28) in its last trip to Coalmont two years ago.
EAST RIDGE PIONEERS (3-3, 2-0) at HIXSON WILDCATS (4-2, 2-0)
Storyline: The Pioneers try to bounce back in a big District 6-AA game after having a three-game win streak crushed last week by Loudon. They’re led by QB JoJo Tillery and two-way lineman C.J. Baker. Hixson’s two-headed rushing game — Isaiah Robinson and Kedrick Bradley — has been producing 270 yards per game, and Robinson is just 66 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark.
GORDON CENTRAL WARRIORS (0-5, 0-2) at COAHULLA CREEK COLTS (1-4, 0-2)
Storyline: Who can get off a slide? Warriors coach David Humphreys knew he stepped into a rebuilding project, but a winless season through five games with only 32 total points must be worse than expected. The Colts are one step from the basement of Region 5-AAA, ahead of only the Warriors.
NORTH MURRAY MOUNTAINEERS (1-4, 0-2) at ADAIRSVILLE TIGERS (3-2, 1-1)
Storyline: Watch the quarterbacks. Mountaineers junior QB Hinton McKonkey throws more passes per game than almost anyone in the area. Adairsville QB Marcus Childers both throws and runs. Adairsville RB Sidnee Johnson has two 100-yard games.
CHRISTIAN HERITAGE LIONS (4-1, 1-0) at GORDON LEE TROJANS (3-1, 0-0)
Storyline: The Trojans’ defense will have to worry about the Lions’ running game as well as QB Trevor Brown and experienced WRs Will Fischer and Nich Bartley. Gordon Lee LBs Jake Rogers and Dallas Goodlet need good starts so they don’t need safety help late in the game.
RIDGELAND PANTHERS (1-3, 0-0) at DALTON CATAMOUNTS (2-2, 0-0)
Storyline: The Ridgeland defense, which will have a healthier Jermane Conyers in the lineup, will likely hold the key to this Region 7-AAAA opener for both teams. The Panthers have allowed over 500 yards to the last two featured RBs against them — Cedartown’s Nick Chubb and Pickens County’s Shannon Brooks — and now face Catamounts star Kelvis Rhodes, who has seven touchdowns in two games. Dalton lost QB Jase Chastain to a season-ending leg injury last week, but Payton Veraldi, who had been sharing time under center, can handle the full-time load.
RINGGOLD TIGERS (4-1, 2-0) at SONORAVILLE PHOENIX (2-3, 2-0)
Storyline: What might have been a rather nondescript game two weeks ago suddenly carries quite a bit of importance in Region 5-AAA, and it all hinges on which defense can get a few stops. The upstart Phoenix have found their offensive identity behind sophomore QB Cody Long and senior TB Andrew Slaton, who have combined to rush for nearly 800 yards in two region wins. Ringgold has plenty of offense of its own behind QB Slade Dale, TB D.L. Goins and the versatile Kile Sholl, who had nearly 300 yards of all-purpose yards last week.
CARTERSVILLE PURPLE HURRICANES (5-0, 2-0) at LAKEVIEW-FORT OGLETHORPE WARRIORS (2-3, 1-1)
Storyline: The second-ranked ‘Canes go as QB Brooks Barden goes, and the senior is red hot with 1,075 yards passing and 16 touchdowns. Seven receivers have caught at least one TD pass, with T.L. Ford and Mark Quattlebaum the top two in receptions with 15 and 14. The Warriors must make Barden uncomfortable and need their offense to take some of the pressure off behind QB Sky Rogers, who had his best game a week ago with two scores.
NORTHWEST WHITFIELD BRUINS (4-0, 0-0) at HERITAGE GENERALS (0-4, 0-0)
Storyline: Two teams going in opposite directions meet, and if the Generals want to make a game of it they have to avoid turnovers and slow a Northwest offense that has scored 106 points in the last two weeks. QB Caleb Shiflett is coming off his best game with 333 yards passing and five touchdowns. Heritage, coming off a bye, has allowed 85 points in its last two games.
SOUTHEAST WHITFIELD RAIDERS (2-2, 0-0) at LaFAYETTE RAMBLERS (0-4, 0-0)
Storyline: Southeast led ninth-ranked Cedartown at halftime last week before succumbing to stud running back Nick Chubb and his 360 yards but in the process may have found a few things. Sophomore Will Swantic will play more at QB after passing for 168 yards, which will free athletes Rhett Harper and Blake Foster to make plays. Any chance for the Ramblers starts up front.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...