BRENTWOOD ACADEMY EAGLES (6-0, 3-0) at MCCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (5-2, 2-1)
Storyline: After a narrow loss to perennial power Montgomery Bell Academy early in the season, the young Blue Tornado showed how much they've improved by winning their past two Division II-AAA East/Middle Region games, including an impressive home victory over Ensworth. Now comes another big test against the nationally ranked Eagles, who are led by QB Gavin Shoenwald, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior who has committed to Vanderbilt, where he's expected to play TE. Junior WR Camron Johnson (6-2, 185) has committed to the Commodores, too. BA has not allowed more than 14 points in a game this season, including a shutout of Baylor last week and a lopsided win over Knoxville Catholic, which had averaged 38 points per game to that point. McCallie's offense will rely heavily on the athleticism of sophomore QB Deangelo Hardy, particularly if senior RB Xavier Brooks is again unable to play because of a nagging injury. Freshman RB B.J. Harris was impressive in Brooks' absence last week, rushing for 145 yards.
TROUSDALE COUNTY YELLOW JACKETS (5-2) at WHITWELL TIGERS (6-0)
Storyline: Although it's not a region game, this is a chance for Whitwell to silence any remaining doubters. The Jackets are ranked sixth in Class 2A and are a perennial playoff power, so a win by the Tigers — who are ranked No. 3 in 1A — should open plenty of eyes around the state. Trousdale is led by QB Keyvont Baines, an athletic junior who is a better runner than passer. Joining him in the backfield is senior RB Isiah Harper, who may be the fastest player the Tigers have had to defend this season. Trousdale's defense, which has held four opponents to six or fewer points and allowed 15 all year, is led by junior LB Jake Gregory (6-0, 205). Trousdale's losses were to Class 4A's Macon County and unbeaten Friendship Christian of DII-A. The Tigers have one of the stingiest defenses in the state, led by senior linemen T.D. Argo, Travis Nolan and Garrett Shrum, as well as junior LBs Thundur Roberts and Josh Wingo.
EAST ATLANTA MUSTANGS (4-3) at SOUTH PITTSBURG PIRATES (6-0)
Storyline: A relatively new program made up of home-schooled students, the Mustangs have given up an average of 17 points per game this season and have allowed eight or fewer three times. However, they have yet to play an opponent the caliber of the Pirates, who are ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, have averaged 46 points per game and have held four opponents to one score or fewer. South Pittsburg's strength is up front, where a deep group of offensive and defensive linemen have been dominant. All-state WR Cade Kennemore is also one of the area's top PR/KRs, while FB/LB Garrett Raulston and RB/LB Sawyer Kelley are physical on both sides of the ball.
OAKDALE EAGLES (2-4) at LOOKOUT VALLEY YELLOW JACKETS (3-3)
Storyline: This is the final home game of the season for the Yellow Jackets, who secured a playoff berth with last week's Region 3-1A win over Sale Creek. Although it's a nonregion game, a win not only helps build more confidence but also keeps alive Lookout Valley's chance for a winning record with winnable games remaining at Copper Basin and Sunbright the next two weeks. Oakdale is also a 1A program but will have a size advantage and has shown the ability to run both a power offense and throw from the spread. Either way, whether as a WR or RB, junior Dawson Smith will have his hands on the ball. For the Jackets, FB/LB Josh Ibach has been a leader on both sides. Last week he ran for more than 140 yards and two touchdowns and also made 15 tackles. That followed a game in which he was in on 17 tackles.
HIXSON WILDCATS (0-6, 0-2) at EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES (2-5, 1-2)
Storyline: These Region 2-4A teams don't have attractive records, but neither has had an easy schedule. Hixson's opponents have a combined record of 29-11 and two are still undefeated. The teams that have beaten East Hamilton have combined for a 21-10 mark, and none has a record below .500. Both teams would like to establishing a running game, then vary things off of that. One problem for the Wildcats is they still don't have an RB who has reached the 200-yard rushing mark for the season. Latrell Sanderfer has been their most productive offensive player, with 22 catches for 430 yards. In order to have a chance to slow East Hamilton, Hixson's defense must start with getting lined up properly. That's something that hasn't occurred 100 percent of the time this season. The Hurricanes' biggest problem can be traced to one thing — yellow flags. They had 18 thrown on them last week and still won, but it's been a problem all season. Having that many calls go against them tonight is a good way to keep Hixson in the game.
MARYVILLE REBELS (5-1, 2-0) at CLEVELAND BLUE RAIDERS (5-2, 2-1)
Storyline: It's Maryville, and every football player in the state knows the Rebels are a big part of Tennessee high school championship history. Yes, they lost earlier this year (to Murfreesboro's Oakland), but they did so without several key starters who were injured the previous week in a 49-48 win over Knoxville Catholic. The Rebels, ranked No. 2 in Class 6A, have a solid defense and a strong offense that makes few mistakes. As for Cleveland, after back-to-back losses to Catholic and Bradley Central, the Blue Raiders have been ramped up while totaling 114 points scored the past two weeks. QB Kellye Cawood has been money in the passing game, due mostly to RB/WR Micaleous Elder, and RB Keegan Jones ran for 250 yards last week. While they'll be without leading tackler Logan Stutzman in this Region 2-6A game, the Blue Raiders think DB/WR Romeo Wykle (injured ankle) will be back at full speed tonight.
HOWARD HUSTLIN' TIGERS (2-4, 0-2) at SEQUOYAH CHIEFS (3-4, 1-2)
Storyline: Howard needs a win in this Region 2-4A game to keep its playoff hopes alive. The Hustlin' Tigers will have a speed advantage, but the Chiefs are bigger up front and have more experience. Howard junior QB Quez Williams, one of the fastest players on the field, will play a key role. Besides having run and thrown for touchdowns in recent weeks, Williams has also scored by returning a punt and an interception, proving he can swing a game's momentum with big plays on special teams and defense, too. Howard's offense needs to improve in the red zone. Last week, the Tigers were inside their opponent's 20-yard line three times but came away with no points.
CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (4-2, 3-0) at EAST RIDGE PIONEERS (5-1, 1-1)
Storyline: The Pioneers gave up more points in last week's game — their first loss of the season — than they had the previous two weeks combined. Their 49-7 setback at Anderson County also cost them a share of the lead in the Region 2-4A standings. If they want any shot at hosting a first-round playoff game, a win tonight against the Pounders could be a must, although Central still must face region opponents Hixson and Anderson County. The biggest question for East Ridge is whether it can slow Central, which has averaged 40 points in its three region contests to date behind RB Michael McGhee and QB Jaheim Jones.
KNOXVILLE WEBB SPARTANS (2-3, 1-1) at BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (1-6, 0-3)
Storyline: Last week, the Buccaneers faced a quality rusher (Mondo Ellison), but they will face at least two tonight: young phenom Elijah Howard and veteran Jahil Jefferson. Both teams are coming off losses in Division II-AA East games — Webb to Notre Dame and the Bucs to Chattanooga Christian — and each needs a win to stay in contention for a spot in the state playoffs. Boyd-Buchanan QB Eli Evans is rounding into form as a dual threat. LB Will Watkins, a force against the run, made 11.5 tackles last week, when S Kohl Henke added 8.5 in run support.
CUMBERLAND COUNTY JETS (0-7) at SEQUATCHIE COUNTY INDIANS (4-2)
Storyline: The Jets have given up at least 40 points in five of their losses this season, but the Indians can't afford to take any opponent lightly despite last week's surprising win over Smith County. That victory included a tone-setting 19-play, nine-minute scoring drive. Sequatchie is the lone team unbeaten in Region 4-3A outings, which is a mild surprise to coach Adam Caine considering the hefty number of 2017 graduates. The team is beginning to embrace practice and has been laying it on the line on Friday nights, and that's especially true of FB Brett Hicks. The Indians' losses are to teams that are or have been ranked No. 1 in their classifications this year.
WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS (0-6) at RED BANK LIONS (5-1)
Storyline: This game matches two of the area's top offensive performers — Mustangs QB Kolten Gibson and the Lions' versatile Calvin Jackson, who could show up at WR, RB or even QB. Jackson, though, appears to have the better supporting cast, a group that includes RB Zay Brown and QB Madox Wilkey. Region 3-3A leader Red Bank also boasts a stout defense, one that has allowed an average of 10 points per game during its five-game winning streak. Region 4-5A's Walker Valley has scored 43.3 points but allowed 54.6 on average over the past three games.
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (5-1, 3-0) at SILVERDALE BAPTIST SEAHAWKS (2-4, 0-2)
Storyline: It could be a matter of an overwhelming number of athletes and speed with Notre Dame, on a five-game winning streak, holding the upper hand in this DII-AA East Region game. The Irish have an array of quality athletes, led by Landon Allen, Justyn Baker and Cameron Wynn, and they operate behind a veteran OL. Led by Elijah Irwin and Clay Buckley, the Seahawks have four backs who have averaged at least 5.8 yards per carry this season. QB Collin Lovell is not a serious threat to run but is capable of hitting enough passes to keep most defenses honest. Other than a 41-0 win over Copper Basin, the Seahawks have had trouble scoring points this year, getting no more than 19 in each of their losses. Notre Dame has scored a total of 232 points in its wins.
GRACE ACADEMY GOLDEN EAGLES (4-2, 2-1) at THE KING'S ACADEMY LIONS (5-1, 3-0)
Storyline: In the eight-team Division II-A East Region, these teams are squarely in the hunt to be among the six that advance to the state playoffs. With nothing but region games remaining for both, winning not only solidifies their playoff standing but also improves seeding. Grace has a standout in QB Cade Tinsley, who has 758 rushing yards and 11 TDs this season. While opposing defenses key on him, the Golden Eagles have to still find ways to get him in the open field. The Lions have a standout in RB Cody Wyllins, a senior transfer from Stone Memorial. He should be well-rested, having played one quarter last week. He had eight carries for 105 yards and scored the first four TDs in a 54-9 romp over Concord Christian. Additionally, Tinsley and Wyllins play equally important roles in their teams' secondaries.
RHEA COUNTY EAGLES (3-4) at MARION COUNTY WARRIORS (3-4)
Storyline: Neither team relies on its passing game a great deal, but Marion QB Isaiah Sampson's 708 passing yards and eight TDs appear monstrous in comparison to the passing statistics put up by Rhea's Zack Pemberton. Both QBs are returning starters. But to illustrate how much the running game means to the Eagles, the offense Pemberton is conducting this year has averaged 20.4 points per game, which isn't close to the same pillar it was last season (36.1 ppg). The Warriors will have the biggest gamebreaker on the field tonight — RB/DB Jacob Saylors is a threat to go all the way every time he touches the ball, including on defense.
DALTON CATAMOUNTS (4-1, 2-0) at RIVER RIDGE KNIGHTS (3-2, 0-1)
Storyline: Dalton has quietly won its past four games, including last week's 28-22 comeback over Creekview in the Region 6-AAAAAA opener. The offensive identity that was missing early is in place now, and it revolves around RBs Jahmyr Gibbs and Tyis Love and QB J.P. Tighe's ability to make plays with his arm and his legs. The Dalton defense was gashed a bit on the ground a week ago. Tonight the Catamounts face an offense missing a couple of key pieces. Starting QB Gino Portera and leading WR Andrew Herring are out, which has shifted the Knights into more of an option-oriented attack led by RB Kofi Reeves-Miller. With Portera absent, River Ridge has been shut out in consecutive league games.
HERITAGE GENERALS (6-0, 2-0) at NORTHWEST WHITFIELD BRUINS (5-1, 1-1)
Storyline: It's a huge game in Tunnel Hill in Region 6-AAAA. Heritage is coming off another dominating win, having handed Southeast Whitfield its first loss of the season. Talented WR Ryan Carter had a coming-out party with four touchdowns, including two on special teams, and QB Blake Bryan continues to take strides in his first year as a starter. He has 1,072 passing yards and 18 TDs this season. The Generals' first-team defense allowed one touchdown to Southeast, which was atop the Class AAAA scoring rankings, with LB Zaine Burton and crew getting another dozen tackles for loss. They will face a more dangerous team tonight. The Bruins, after a bad loss against Ridgeland, put 49 on LaFayette in the first half last week and appear to have straightened out some of the offensive confusion seen the week before. QB Luke Shiflett, playing with a cast on his left wrist, had three touchdowns passing, two rushing and accounted for right at 300 yards of total offense. In last year's win over Heritage, it was FB Dominique Sistrunk who did most of the damage, getting close to 300 rushing yards. Can the improved Generals hold him in check this time around?
CALHOUN YELLOW JACKETS (5-1, 1-0) at ADAIRSVILLE TIGERS (3-2, 0-0)
Storyline: These teams have had some interesting games in Adairsville in recent seasons. Calhoun hopes a quick start will take some of the fight out of the Tigers, who have had two weeks to prepare. The Jackets have untracked their offense, scoring 62, 40 and 41 points in their past three games. QB Gavin Gray has totaled 1,324 passing yards and nine TDs this year and has reliable targets in Luke Mosely (20 catches for 351 yards), Brannon Spector (19 for 286) and Bralin Barton (17 for 274). RB Zack Fuller has come on of late and has 500 rushing yards and nine scores in 2017. Adairsville can score with most teams, averaging 47 points in the past three games, and relies mostly on the ground game and taking deep shots on play-action passes by QB Mason Boswell. RB Christian Steele leads the rushing attack, having run for 425 yards this season. Travon Branch is athletic and the biggest threat, but he has yet to have a breakout game this year.
MURRAY COUNTY INDIANS (2-4, 0-1) at RINGGOLD TIGERS (3-3, 0-1)
Storyline: Teams coming off disappointing performances meet in what could be an elimination game in the 6-AAA North subregion. Murray was blanked by rival North Murray 41-0, committing numerous mistakes and failing to make the Mountaineers pay for loading the defensive box to stop RB Tucker Gregg. Ringgold, meanwhile, lost to rival Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe for the first time since 2004. The Tigers rallied after a woeful start but could not contain the LFO ground game in the end, while its own offense — explosive at times this season — was inconsistent. The Indians will again try to unleash Gregg, who has 980 rushing yards and eight TDs this year, but QB John Reed will have to take advantage of deep opportunities with WR Preston Vanmeter. Ringgold has weapons everywhere: QB Cole Kibler (1,442 passing yards, 11 TDs), RB Ty Jones (506 rushing yards, five TDs) and WRs Pete Brower and Andre Tarver, who have combined for seven TDs and nearly 700 receiving yards. However, the Tigers' defense has struggled up front, and tackling has been a problem, too. If they don't wrap up on Gregg tonight, this game could be tight.