McCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (1-1) at TYNER RAMS (0-2)
Last time: A 25-21 win over McCallie last year was the second victory in what would be an eight-game streak for the Rams.
This time: Tyner is 0-2 for the third year in a row. A win tonight would allow McCallie to equal its 2010 start.
Time to shine: The Rams need to get a lot more from QB Willie Stewart, who completed 1 of 4 passes last week, and RBs Kalan Hardley and Bobby Hendricks. Even with size in the line they will have trouble running consistently if no opponent respects their passing game. McCallie's triple option could have trouble against the Rams, who did a number on run-first Signal Mountain's running attack in Week 1. Blue Tornado QB Trent Lusk may have to limber up his arm to keep Rams defenders such as LB Chandler Patrick from ganging up on McCallie runner Daniel McClure.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES (3-0) at BLACKMAN BLAZE (2-1)
Last time: First meeting.
This time: The Eagles, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 4A, are coming off a 48-13 victory over Bledsoe County in their first District 7-AA game. Blackman, picked in the preseason among the top five Class 6A teams, lost in an upset to Siegel last week.
Time to shine: The Eagles will have trouble trying to contain I'Tavius Mathers, who's averaging slightly more than 23 carries per game with a total of 623 yards. Mathers is considered one of the state's top running back prospects, if not the No. 1. He's averaging 207.7 yards per game but has scored only three TDs. SIgnal hopes to have Drew Chambers back (he sat out last week with an ankle injury), but Dane DeWet, Elijah Turnage and Cale Shelton handled defensive-line chores without him. The Eagles were a little sloppy with their tackles last week and hope to do a much better job tonight.
BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (3-0, 1-0) at MONTGOMERY BELL ACADEMY BIG RED (1-2, 0-1)
Last time: Baylor won 14-10 last year.
This time: MBA has given up a total of 108 points in back-to-back losses to Louisville (Ky.) Trinity and Brentwood Academy. The Big Red's win was 42-6 against Kingsbury. Baylor is 3-0 for the second year in a row with wins over Soddy-Daisy, Bradley Central and region foe Father Ryan. This will be the Red Raiders' second trip to Nashville in as many weeks.
Time to shine: Baylor has rolled thus far with QB Matthew Oellerich throwing and running equally well, depending on what the defense is offering. The Red Raiders continue to use Connor Davidson, George Porter and Houston Clements as runners. MBA QB Dylan Hall has seven TD passes but also four interceptions and a 49.4 completion rate. Receiver Brooks Best has five catches, averaging 38.4 per reception. The Baylor defense has been fairly stout, giving up 38 points in three games with 28 from state-ranked Bradley Central. Russell Burton, John Tipton, Bryce Reynolds, Spencer Craig and Colton Jumper have led that defense.
SEQUATCHIE COUNTY INDIANS (3-0) at SOUTH PITTSBURG PIRATES (2-0)
Last time: South Pittsburg won 7-0 in 2005.
This time: Both are gunning for respective district championships, plus South Pittsburg for a second straight state title and Sequatchie for at least a deeper run into the playoffs. This is a nondistrict game, but there are bound to be some bragging rights for two of the Sequatchie Valley's top programs.
Time to shine: Being a QB at either school is usually more of a millstone that a rhinestone because the coaches prefer to run either by power or chicanery. This year, though, both have QBs who can pass -- Eli Stout in Dunlap and Jake Stone in South Pittsburg. Still, the offenses have cornerstone RBs in the Indians' Jerry Fain and the Pirates' JaJuan Lankford, and they have capable running mates in Hunter Hudson and Demetric Johnson, respectively. The difference-maker could wind up being South Pitt WR/KR Antonio Chubb.
BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (3-0) at HOWARD HUSTLIN' TIGERS (0-2)
Last time: Howard won 16-7 last year.
This time: Boyd-Buchanan has been known to produce some defensive-reliant teams, and it seems to be that type again. The Bucs gave up seven points in the first quarter the opening week against Chattanooga Christian and have since posted 11 consecutive shutout quarters. Howard, which is in a coaching transition phase, would hope to be better defensively than allowing 42 points, which it has given up in each game so far.
Time to shine: The Bucs are awaiting a monstrous game from speedy RB Chase Reed, who's been held to an average of 4 yards so far on his 55 rushing attempts. QB Jim Cardwell has contributed 127 yards rushing and has taken some of the heat off the running game by completing 70.6 percent of his 51 passes for 460 yards. Grant Mathis, with seven catches for 150 yards, has been the top receiving target. Austin Hall's 14 solo tackles are a team high. Howard's attack is led by QB Tevin Jackson with Dedrick Lindsey as a key receiver. Rayshawn Moore has been the Tigers' No. 1 option in the running game.
CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN CHARGERS (1-2) at POLK COUNTY WILDCATS (1-2)
Last time: Polk County won 49-27 last year.
This time: Each team started 0-2 and is looking to build on momentum from last week. This game will pit CCS's pass-happy attack against the ground-oriented Wildcats. The Chargers may hope to win a high-scoring game. Polk County's defense was stingy in 2010, allowing 140 points in 12 games, but already has given up 77 this season.
Time to shine: CCS junior QB Levi Corbett has put the ball in the air 113 times with one TD pass to show for it. He has, however, thrown for 569 yards. The TD went to senior Beau Simmons, who has 20 catches for 254 yards. Junior Jay Sims is the top runner with 226 yards and four TDs. Senior Trae Terry has 14 solo tackles, 17 assists and a fumble recovery. Polk's offense had a breakout game last week with 282 of its 289 yards from scrimmage coming on the ground. Senior FB Derrick Saxe topped the Wildcats, who scored their 46 points over the first three quarters, with 106 yards on 11 rushes. Senior QB Al Akins had TD runs of 31 and 1 yards. Chris Wimberley returned a punt 61 yards for a score.
OOLTEWAH OWLS (3-0) at SIEGEL STARS (3-0)
Last time: First meeting.
This time: Ooltewah is riding high after beating District 5-AAA rival Cleveland last week, but this should be the Owls' toughest test to date. Siegel has come a long way since beginning its program in 2003 and going 0-10 followed by 1-9. Still, the only other time the Stars started 3-0 was 2008, which also is the only time they've advanced to the state playoffs. They lost 28-27 to Cookeville in the Class 5A first round. Much of the reason for their 33-52 overall record can be attributed to the rugged leagues in which they've played. They're currently a member of District 7-AAA along with Riverdale, Smyrna and Oakland, which combined have won eight of the last 17 Class 5A state titles.
Time to shine: Ooltewah has flourished through the air with senior QB Bradley Stephens throwing for 640 yards and four TDs. Sophomore Desmond Pittman's 44 attempts for 224 yards tops the Owls' rushing. Senior James Stone leads in solo tackles (20) and sacks (3.5). Siegel is led by sophomore RB Denzel Harding with 55 carries for 434 yards. Five of his eight TDs were in last week's 37-34 victory over Blackman. Junior Brent Stockstill, son of the Middle Tennessee State head coach, splits time at QB with Treyton Harris but has been more productive with 17-for-30 passing for 325 yards. The Stars' no-huddle offense averages 418 yards per game, but the defense allows an average of 397. Junior safety Tae Martin has 17 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a recovery. He's also their leading receiver with 217 yards.
BRADLEY CENTRAL BEARS (3-1) at EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES (1-2)
Last time: First meeting.
This time: The Hurricanes rode the wave of their first-ever home game to defeat Central 25-6 last week. Their second home game promises to be tougher as the high-scoring Bears visit.
Time to shine: Bears quarterback Bryce Copeland (5-11, 165) is a dual threat who was the Times Free Press Player of the Week last week. James Stovall (6-2, 185) has been his main threat, but an offensive line that features Tennessee commitment Austin Sanders (6-5, 300) and Patrick Benson (6-4, 305) has played well for the Bears. East Hamilton tailback Logan Jackson (6-0, 185) has been a workhorse for two seasons for the Hurricanes, but quarterback Hunter Moore is expected to take more off him as this season progresses.
CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (1-1) at CLEVELAND BLUE RAIDERS (0-3)
Last time: Cleveland won 47-7 in 2008.
This time: The Pounders are looking to spoil Cleveland's homecoming and end a history of futility against the Raiders, against whom they are 1-15. The Raiders are looking to avoid 0-4 for the first time since 1977 and have lost five games in a row -- a streak that also dates back to that season.
Time to shine: Central quarterback Ladarrius Jackson (6-2 ,185) is the leader of the Pounders' wing-T offense, while Robert Cobb is coming off a solid performance against East Hamilton. Cleveland's offense has been predicated by Pittsburgh commitment Chad Voytik (6-1, 200), but he hasn't had much help offensively. The defense, led by lineman Henry McClendon (6-2, 245) and linebacker Jesse Jones (5-11, 220), has been the team's bright spot.
WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS (0-2) at RED BANK LIONS (2-0)
Last time: Red Bank won 14-7 in 2008.
This time: Red Bank is looking to continue its dominance over the Mustangs, who are looking to avoid 0-3 for the fifth time in their 11-year history. The Lions have won the teams' four meetings by a combined score of 154-14.
Time to shine: The Lions have received contributions from quarterbacks Hagan Wilkey (6-3, 215) and Niquia McDuffie (5-9, 155), while Randal Lee (6-1, 205) has been a force at running back and Deres Benn (6-1, 195) a playmaker at receiver. Last week's bye gave the Mustangs a chance to rest, as they return leading rusher Kelvin Wells (5-11, 170) from a concussion.
GILMER COUNTY BOBCATS (2-0) at DALTON CATAMOUNTS (1-1)
Last time: Gilmer won 15-14 in the region playoff round last year.
This time: It's hard to judge just where the Catamounts stand after two games. They played arguably the best team in the area in Calhoun in week one before routing a very down Murray County team last week. We'll know more after tonight's game with the surprising Bobcats of former Murray player Wesley Tankersley, the team that ended Dalton's season in week 10 last year.
Time to shine: Dalton knows what it has in TB Tre Beck (5-9, 170) and the versatile Tre Bonds (5-10, 175), who combined for seven touchdowns against Murray. What they may need this week to keep the Gilmer defense from stacking the line is for junior QB Cole Calfee (5-10, 175) to have some success in a passing game that was weak against Calhoun and not needed against Murray. Gilmer features a veteran offensive line led by Derrick Greene that has opened up huge holes for RB Tanner Davis and FB Colt Henderson, while QB Marlen Hensley has proven adept at running the team's wing-T offense.
PICKENS COUNTY DRAGONS (0-2) vs. RINGGOLD TIGERS (2-0)
Tonight, 7:30 at Finley Stadium
Last time: Ringgold won 35-18 last year.
This time: Ringgold comes in after two solid showings on the ground, averaging right at 300 yards in wins over Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Murphy, N.C. The same can't be said for Pickens, where coach Steve Sewell has had to replace the Dragons' entire backfield from a year ago and the results so far have been disappointing, including a shutout loss to Fannin County last week.
Time to shine: Ringgold RBs Mark Fairbanks (6-1, 190) and Shaun Anderson (5-10, 205) have been the key playmakers, but the offensive line, led by Ryan Emmer (6-2, 220) and Jacob Hargrove (6-2, 220) has been the real key. While the Dragons are short on skill personnel, they do have experience up front, led by Tatum Dean (6-foot, 275) and Taylor Logan (6-3, 263).