SODDY-DAISY TROJANS (4-3, 0-2) at RHEA COUNTY EAGLES (4-4, 2-1)
Storyline: The streaky Eagles — this season, they've lost two, won three, lost two and won one — can count a pair of Region 2-5A conquests in last month's three-game winning streak, and they're coming off a physical win over Class 2A power Marion County. They've fallen back on power offense and RBs Brandon Hunt, Gavin Morrison and Christian Simon with a definite eye on ball control, but their defense has been sporadic against passing teams. Soddy-Daisy definitely is a passing team, thanks to QB Gavin Chambers and WRs Beau Blaylock and Jarvis Smith, but also runs effectively with Ty Boeck, Brandon Davis and Hayden Maynor. The Trojans and Eagles have three common opponents to date: Soddy-Daisy lost to Bradley Central, 42-21, Knoxville Catholic, 49-48, and Lenoir City, 15-14. Rhea also lost to Bradley, 21-7, and Catholic, 49-24, but beat Lenoir City 21-14.
McMINN CENTRAL CHARGERS (0-8, 0-3) at SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES (2-5, 1-2)
Storyline: Despite a disappointing season, the Chargers still have a chance to make the playoffs out of Region 3-3A, and they can get there with a win tonight and another next week against Brainerd. However, their closest brush with victory was Aug. 25 in a 21-14 loss to Sequoyah, and they've been shut out in two of their past three games while allowing 168 points in their past four. Signal Mountain appears to be close to making the playoffs, but after tonight and next week's nonregion game against Soddy-Daisy, the Eagles still must play Sweetwater, which is third in the region standings behind Loudon and Red Bank.
ANDERSON COUNTY MAVERICKS (7-0, 3-0) at CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (5-2, 4-0)
Storyline: The Mavericks — ranked No. 3 in Class 4A — have had their way thus far while averaging 52 points per game this season. The closest they've come to a close game was a 39-0 victory at Howard last month. Central beat Howard 21-12 on Sept. 29, the second of three straight wins (all against Region 2-4A competition) since a four-touchdown loss to Division II's Notre Dame. There are question marks about the health of the Pounders, including QB Jaheim Jones, who's coming off a 300-yard passing performance, and RB Michael McGhee.
MARYVILLE HERITAGE MOUNTAINEERS (3-4, 2-1) at BRADLEY CENTRAL BEARS (6-1, 3-0)
Storyline: There's something to be said for playing at home, at least as far as the Mountaineers are concerned. They're 3-1 at home but winless on the road this year. Bradley has been winning at home and on the road since a season-opening loss to Farragut. The Bears have scored 38 or more points in four of those wins behind QB Dylan Standifer, WRs Stephen Muhonen and Lameric Tucker, and RBs Adam Mullis and Nick Howell. Starting tonight, all that remains for both teams in the regular season are Region 2-6A games, including against perennial power Maryville, which like Bradley has one loss but is undefeated in region play.
HOWARD HUSTLIN' TIGERS (2-5, 0-3) at HIXSON WILDCATS (0-7, 0-3)
Storyline: Except for in their wins (against Brainerd and Lancaster Christian), the Tigers have struggled on offense this season. They've managed 31 points in their other games for an average of 6.2. Four of the losses have come against teams with winning records, including Anderson County and Central, the Region 2-4A leaders that play tonight at Central. Hixson has allowed 40 points or more five times this year. The Wildcats came close to ending their skid last week but fell 28-25 to East Hamilton. This game is likely their last solid chance for a victory, because they have current region leader Central next week and face East Ridge to close the season.
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (6-1, 4-0) at KNOXVILLE GRACE CHRISTIAN RAMS (4-3, 2-1)
Storyline: Since a season-opening loss to Baylor, Notre Dame has handled its opposition and done so while averaging 48.3 points per game. The Irish are equally effective protecting a lead with their running game (1,569 yards) as they are building a lead with the help of their passing game (1,172 yards). Cameron Wynn epitomizes that balance with 410 rushing yards and 469 receiving — both team highs. Jeffrey Watkins Jr. and Akil Sledge also have more than 300 rushing yards each. QB Landon Allen is 52-for-82 for 798 yards. Rams QB Luke Kirby has thrown it 256 times and averages 241.3 passing yards per game. Seven players have more than 90 receiving yards this season, led by Eli Nordhorn's 37 catches for 448 yards. Notre Dame can clinch at least a share of the DII-AA East title with a win and a Knoxville Webb victory over CCS.
BLEDSOE COUNTY WARRIORS (3-4, 0-2) at POLK COUNTY WILDCATS (3-4, 1-1)
Storyline: It's a long ride — there's no real easy way to get from Pikeville to Benton — but the stakes are high. Both teams have a good shot at making the playoffs. A Polk win tonight could assure the Wildcats of a third-place finish in Region 3-2A, although they still must play Marion County, which is currently second. For the Warriors, two wins — tonight and against Tellico Plains on Oct. 27 — could assure them of a No. 3 finish. Tellico Plains is winless in the region and faces region leader Tyner tonight. Both the Warriors and the Wildcats love to run the football, although Polk has shown at least some ability to throw.
WHITWELL TIGERS (7-0, 2-0) at SOUTH PITTSBURG PIRATES (7-0, 2-0)
Storyline: The Region 3-1A championship will be decided, and the Tigers — ranked No. 3 in the classification — are looking to snap a 26-game losing streak to their cross-county rivals. After knocking off Class 2A's sixth-ranked Trousdale County on a last-second field goal last week, Whitwell is 7-0 for the first time in program history and has tied the school record for consecutive regular-season wins. The Tigers, who have outscored opponents by an average of 34 points, set the tone with a stingy defense led by LBs Thundur Roberts and Josh Wingo and linemen T.D. Argo, Travis Nolan and Garrett Shrum. Whitwell's starting defense has allowed just 20 total points (special teams has given up another nine points) all season. Top-ranked South Pittsburg has won its games by an average score of 48-10 and hasn't had an opponent stay within three TDs since the season-opening win over Class 3A's Sequatchie County. The Pirates, who have beaten the Tigers by an average score of 47-12 during the rivalry streak, are led by junior FB/LB Garrett Raulston and senior RB/LB Sawyer Kelley. Senior Cade Kennemore is a shifty weapon whether he gets his hands on the ball at WR or returning kicks.
KNOXVILLE WEBB SPARTANS (3-3, 2-1) at CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN CHARGERS (5-2, 3-0)
Storyline: A win in this Division II-AA East region matchup should secure a first-round home game in the playoffs for the Chargers, but it won't be easy. The Spartans are loaded with game-breaking speed in their wing-T backfield. The foursome of speedy ball carriers are freshman Elijah Howard (6-0, 165) — who already has a scholarship offer from Tennessee — juniors Jahlil Jefferson (5-8, 170) and Roderick Lewis (5-10, 165), and senior Morgan Ernst (6-0, 195), who is also Webb's leader on defense. The Chargers' defense, led by senior ILB Ian Gaines, will need to tackle well in space against that speed. The offense can help by controlling the clock with a power running game that features the area's leading rusher, Mondo Ellison, who has more than 1,000 yards this year. Sophomore RB Roderick Young gives them a big-play threat out of the backfield as well.
BRAINERD PANTHERS (1-6, 0-3) at RED BANK LIONS (5-2, 3-0)
Storyline: After a disappointing nonregion loss last week, when Walker Valley shut out the Lions in the second half and rallied for a late win, Red Bank can get back on track and take another step toward earning the Region 3-3A championship. Sophomore QB Madox Wilkey threw for 279 yards and two TDs in last week's loss, which snapped a five-game winning streak in which the Lions had given up an average of 10 points per game. Senior RB Zay Brown is a powerful runner who has good speed, and junior Calvin Jackson is a versatile athlete and big-play threat. Brainerd junior Joseph Norwood is one of the city's top overall athletes and a star on both sides of the ball. The Panthers need a win and some help to get to the playoffs, but even if they don't make the postseason, there has been clear improvement from the past few years.
LOOKOUT VALLEY YELLOW JACKETS (4-3, 1-1) at COPPER BASIN COUGARS (1-7, 1-2)
Storyline: This is the first of three straight road games to end the regular season for the Yellow Jackets, with the winner of this one earning third place in Region 3-1A. Expect a heavy dose of FB Josh Ibach and senior QB Zane Howard to split carries for Lookout Valley. Ibach is also the team's leading tackler, and Howard proved his toughness last week by finishing the game after injuring his foot early. He ran for 70 yards and also came up huge on defense with two interceptions against Oakdale's pass-happy offense. Copper Basin rarely throws the ball and will rely on senior QB Keaton Mickens and junior RB Chase Mickens to take most of the carries.
MEIGS COUNTY TIGERS (7-0, 2-0) at ONEIDA INDIANS (5-2, 2-1)
Storyline: The Tigers can secure the Region 2-2A title with a win over the Indians, who have lost their past two games. Sophomore QB/DB Aaron Swafford is following up an all-state freshman debut with an even stronger 2017 season. He ranks among the area's leaders in both passing and rushing, having compiled more than 1,600 yards of total offense, and is also among the leaders in interceptions on defense — he has returned two for TDs that covered 74 and 100 yards. Junior RB Martin Smith has emerged as a secondary weapon on offense. LB Jawan Martin leads the Meigs defense, which has allowed more than 20 points just once this year, with 80 tackles to go with three interceptions. He has also blocked two punts, returning both for TDs. Dalton Baker has more than 50 tackles and is among the area leaders with 12 for loss and seven sacks. Oneida typically runs an old-school power running game behind OT Logan Stephens (6-4, 300) out of the I formation. Stephens also anchors the DL and has several scholarship offers from Football Championship Subdivision programs. Senior TB Evan Roberts (6-0, 205) gets most of the carries, with FB Toby Hacker (5-10, 210) also counted on.
GRACE ACADEMY GOLDEN EAGLES (4-3, 2-2) at DONELSON CHRISTIAN ACADEMY WILDCATS (4-3, 2-2)
Storyline: Grace has encountered some tough luck lately, particularly along the offensive front, where two players are battling the flu and another is out with a shoulder injury. Not the best timing when having to go up against a DCA defensive front that features all-state candidate Blake Johnson (6-4, 235). The Golden Eagles have players who can produce, though, including juniors Noah Gray (leading receiver) and Jimmy Green (No. 2 rusher, No. 2 receiver). The biggest problem has been turnovers. When Grace loses that battle, it loses the game. Hard-charging RB Houston Troup leads the Wildcats' running game out of the I formation and QB and fellow senior Henry Mosley (more than 1,000 passing yards and 12 TDs last season) directs things. Yet another bus ride in the two-hour range awaits. That just adds to the adversity Grace coach Bob Ateca has challenged his team to overcome in this DII-A East game.
McCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (5-3, 2-2) at BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (3-4, 1-2)
Storyline: It's a DII-AAA East/Middle Region game as well as one of the most storied rivalries in the area — and it looks like a home game in the first round of state is in the balance. Given the game's emotional factor, plays that create big momentum swings will be telling. The Blue Tornado must deal with a big, strong O-line. The games in which they've been successful are the ones in which they've been able to cover gaps at the point of attack and make tackles in the area. McCallie's injury list includes RB Xavier Brooks (607 rushing yards, 11 TDs), so B.J. Harris gets the starting nod. QB Deangelo Harris is the catalyst with 1,514 yards of total offense and 15 TDs accounted for. The Red Raiders' primary objectives are to stop big plays, which means tackling successfully in space, and avoid turnovers. Their season record is a direct reflection of their success or failure in the latter. Brendon Harris leads Baylor in tackles and has teamed with Mike Benning for 819 rushing yards and 10 TDs. QB Lorenzo White has complemented with 856 yards through the air and 10 more TDs.
BOYD-BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (1-7, 0-4) at SILVERDALE BAPTIST SEAHAWKS (1-5, 0-3)
Storyline: As far as the playoffs go, these teams still have a pulse. But just winning another game would go a long way for team morale. Both have been plagued by injuries, although some of the Buccaneers who were out early in the season are playing now. Of the 35 players on Silverdale's roster, 17 have missed at least one game because of an injury. Defenses dictate where the ball goes in Boyd-Buchanan's triple-option offense. NG Curtis Dearing can help clog the middle, and aggressive LB Reece Hall can male tackles sideline to sideline. For the Seahawks to move the ball, it's understood they can't let Kohl Henke make plays all over the field. But there are other playmaking Bucs, such as DE Asa Owens. Boyd-Buchanan wouldn't mind if the kicking game is the deciding factor. Eli Terrell's missed PAT last week was the first missed kick in his career, and P Riley Barnes can also be valuable in a close game.
YORK INSTITUTE DRAGONS (5-2, 2-1) at SEQUATCHIE COUNTY INDIANS (5-2, 2-0)
Storyline: The teams mirror one another — run-oriented wing-T offenses, physical defenses — but York has a decided size advantage up front. The Indians, whose only losses this year have come to top-ranked teams (Class 2A's Meigs County and 1A's South Pittsburg), can set themselves up to be one win away from repeating as Region 4-3A champions. Senior QB Ethan Barker and junior FB Brett Hicks have combined for 25 TDs this year, and Sequatchie's line play got a huge boost recently with the return of senior Garrett Castle (6-1, 235) from a back injury. The Dragons will rely on a heavy dose of senior power runners Ethan Probst (6-0, 210) and Heath Rexroat (6-0, 190), as well as a defense led by LBs Josiah Heddings (6-2, 235) and Cole Cooper (6-3, 210).
RIDGELAND PANTHERS (6-0, 2-0) at HERITAGE GENERALS (7-0, 3-0)
Storyline: One of the top matchups in the state will take place at Jeff Sims Field, with at least a share of first place in Region 6-AAAA on the line. The numbers are gaudy, with each team ranking in the top 10 in the state both in points scored and points allowed. Each offense goes about things differently, though. Ridgeland is a ground-first team, with both Markeith Montgomery (16.1 yards per carry) and Jalyn Shelton (team-best 11 TDs) each with more than 500 rushing yards. QB Tanner Hill (605 passing yards, seven TDs) can make teams that crowd the line pay, with most of the damage via elite WR Stephon Moore, who has 475 receiving yards and eight scores. Heritage excels via quick passes, with QB Blake Bryan (1,072 yards, 19 TDs) often hitting WRs Ryan Carter and Luke Grant on screens or crossing routes and letting them make plays. This game will likely be won in the trenches. Which offensive line can get the biggest push?
SEQUOYAH CHIEFS (5-1, 3-0) at DALTON CATAMOUNTS (5-1, 3-0)
Storyline: The playoff race in Region 6-AAAAAA starts to shape up tonight, and this matchup at Harmon Field leads the way. Dalton, which won the region last year, has ridden its stout defense to two league shutouts, including last week's 25-point win over River Ridge. The offense has struggled at times, though the ground game has had some good moments behind RBs Jahmyr Gibbs and Tyis Love. QB J.P. Tighe needs a strong game against a Sequoyah defense that has also been dominating. The Chiefs have been similar to Dalton on offense. They rely on RB Cameron Gales (470 rushing yards) to get most of the production, with QB Collier Pecht usually taking several long shots downfield. A key in this game could be the kicking of Dalton's Ivan Mora, who had three field goals a week ago.
NORTHWEST WHITFIELD BRUINS (4-3, 1-2) at PICKENS DRAGONS (4-2, 2-0)
Storyline: This Region 6-AAAA game features teams trying to overcome adversity. The Bruins will be without star QB Luke Shiflett, who broke an ankle in last week's loss to Heritage. The Dragons are dealing with the death of freshman Shawn Mask as the result of a dirt bike accident. On the field, Northwest will turn to Matthew Redmond at QB and will likely change the offensive plan to feature RB Dominique Sistrunk more prominently. Pickens, coming off a 49-21 win over Southeast Whitfield, has one of the state's top playmakers in QB Jacob Brumby, who has passed for 1,485 yards and 16 TDs. RB Robert Davis (714 rushing yards, 11.5 yards per carry) and WR Zack Goss (31 catches, 607 yards, 11 TDs) complete this dangerous offense. If Northwest loses, reaching the playoffs could be difficult.
RINGGOLD TIGERS (4-3, 1-1) at NORTH MURRAY MOUNTAINEERS (3-3, 1-0)
Storyline: The 6-AAA North subregion could be thrown into a bit of a mess if the Tigers win. Ringgold's offense got back on track last week as QB Cole Kibler passed for six TDs and nearly 500 yards against Murray County. The junior now has 1,938 yards and 17 TDs against four interceptions, and he has dynamic WRs in Pete Brower and Andre Tarver, who have combined for more than 900 yards. North Murray counters with its own dynamic QB, junior Preston Poag Jr., who enters the game with 1,418 yards passing, 383 rushing and 20 total TDs. Poag also has elite WRs in Conner Rice (34 catches, 627 yards, 11 TDs) and Ladd McConkey (22-327, three TDs). Which defense can make stops? Each has been gashed at times and looked good at times.
TRION BULLDOGS (5-1, 3-0) at DARLINGTON TIGERS (4-3, 3-1)
Storyline: If Trion hopes to make a push for the Region 6-A title, it starts tonight at 2016 league champion Darlington. There will be nothing fancy about the way each team wants to move the ball. Trion relies on the bruising running of FB Logan Blevins (494 rushing yards, nine TDs) and WBs Tanner Railey and Cole Phillips, who have combined for 669 receiving yards. The Tigers counter with senior RB Tijai Whatley, who has committed to Georgia Tech and has 833 rushing yards and 14 TDs. The key here is which QB, Trion's Jarrett Gill or Darlington's Griffin Brewster, makes the most plays over the top.