Tennessee football playoffs add Division II-AAA teams in second week

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / East Hamilton's Juandrick Bullard avoids Sullivan South defenders during last Friday's TSSAA Class 4A playoff game in Ooltewah. The Hurricanes, who won 56-20, hit the road this week for a second-round matchup against undefeated Elizabethton.

Baylor and McCallie are set to step back on the football field this weekend as eight Division II-AAA teams join the TSSAA playoffs in the postseason's second week.

The Chattanooga area has at least one team remaining in all six public-school brackets, including a head-to-head matchup as Brainerd visits Red Bank in Class 3A's second round. No local team made the DII-A playoffs, and Chattanooga Christian School was the area's last team in DII-AA, but due to COVID-19 cases within its general student population, CCS shut down all on-campus and extracurricular activities.

That meant the season ended for the Chargers (5-3) without the chance to play their scheduled quarterfinal game at Nashville's Christ Presbyterian Academy, which advances to next week's semifinals.

DII-AAA teams haven't played since the regular season ended on Oct. 30, when Baylor lost 21-20 to Brentwood Academy and McCallie won 10-0 at Ensworth.

Baylor's playoff opener, at Montgomery Bell Academy, has been moved to Saturday because that is the first day the Red Raiders will come out of a 14-day quarantine and be allowed to play.

Division II-AAA

McCallie Blue Tornado (6-3) at Christian Brothers Purple Wave (6-3): Christian Brothers junior Dallan Hayden, a Mr. Football semifinalist and the son of former University of Tennessee running back Aaron Hayden, has rushed for 1,806 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, and he has scholarship offers from Tennessee, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan among others. He also has four of the top five rushing performances in program history.

Meanwhile, McCallie begins in earnest its bid to repeat as state champion still missing some injured starters. Although B.J. Harris, a Mr. Football semifinalist who has committed to Missouri and has rushed for more than 1,100 yards this year, could shoulder much of the offensive load, junior quarterback William Riddle has thrown for more than 1,100 yards - and the Blue Tornado will need to be balanced against a defense that has held five opponents to three or fewer touchdowns in 2020.

Baylor Red Raiders (4-3) at MBA Big Red (5-2): A nonregion matchup in the regular season was canceled due to weather. MBA could have taken a coronavirus forfeit in this meeting and advanced to the semifinals but agreed to move the game back one day to allow Baylor to complete its quarantine. MBA ended Baylor's season last year with a fourth-down stop inside the Big Red's 10-yard line in the final seconds of a quarterfinal matchup.

The Red Raiders have lost three of their past four games - all to DII-AAA foes - but proved how dangerous they can be with the one-point loss at top-ranked and unbeaten Brentwood Academy in the regular-season finale.

Class 1A

Monterey Wildcats (8-2) at South Pittsburg Pirates (10-1): Although South Pittsburg owns blowout wins in two previous playoff meetings, the Wildcats' offensive style this season could present a challenge. The visitors will look to utilize a size advantage up front to maintain possession for long stretches and limit the number of opportunities for the Pirates. Monterey has allowed an average of just 10 points per game - Sale Creek's 22 last week in a lopsided score are the most allowed all season - and the Wildcats' only losses came to 2A state-ranked Bledsoe County, 20-14, and to region champion Gordonsville, 20-13.

The Pirates got a boost last week with the return of junior running back De'Andre Kelly, who had not played since the season opener due to an injury but led the team with 112 yards and scored three times.

Class 2A

Hampton Bulldogs (9-1) at Meigs County Tigers (11-0): The second-ranked Tigers, who advanced without playing last week as Cosby forfeited due to COVID-19, will try to earn their fourth straight quarterfinal berth. Hampton has given up seven or fewer points in six of its 10 games and has yet to be held below 28 points. Dual-threat QB Conor Jones has accounted for 1,788 total yards and 29 touchdowns and is also the team's leading tackler. Aidan Vines has 900 rushing yards for the run-heavy Bulldogs.

Trousdale County Yellow Jackets (9-2) at Bledsoe County Warriors (11-0): The Jackets' two losses came by a total of five points, and in their eight-game winning streak since, they've outscored opponents by an average of 35-7. The Warriors followed the program's first unbeaten regular season by jumping out to a 41-0 halftime lead last week, and another win would secure their first quarterfinal since 1983. Bledsoe's combination of quarterback Harmon Keith and running backs Dylan Robeck and Cadillac Siever has produced more than 2,800 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns, but that group will be tested by an opponent that has not allowed more than 21 points in a game this year.

Marion County Warriors (7-2) at Watertown Tigers (10-2): Marion coach Dale Pruitt's next win will be the 300th of his career. The Warriors gained all 385 offensive yards on the ground last week, led by Taye Hutchins' 243 and two touchdowns. These teams last met in the 2016 postseason, a 34-point Marion win. Jordan Cason leads Watertown in rushing (1,000-plus yards) and tackles, including 10 for loss. The Tigers have limited opponents to seven or fewer points eight times, and they've allowed more than 14 only once, in a 24-20 loss to 4A Nolensville.

Class 3A

Brainerd Panthers (7-4) at Red Bank Lions (8-0): The regular-season game between these Region 3 members wasn't played due to the Lions being under quarantine. Both teams' lineups regained full strength as the playoffs began after having key players missing late in the regular season because of injury. Brainerd hasn't made the quarterfinals since 1997, but the Lions can reach that round for the fourth year in a row with a victory.

The Panthers advanced past the first round for the first time since 2011 thanks to a sharp call in overtime. After KaDarius Price, who led the team with 82 rushing yards, scored a touchdown to pull within one, senior quarterback Xiyeer Lattimore faked a pitch to the right to Price, then swept around left end for the winning 2-point conversion. Red Bank was sharp on both sides of the ball in round one, scoring six touchdowns and a field goal on its seven first-half possessions - the Lions ran for 189 yards and passed for 141 in the first half - and holding Grundy County to 49 total yards.

Class 4A

East Hamilton Hurricanes (8-3) at Elizabethton Cyclones (11-0): There should be plenty of aerial fireworks because each team relies heavily on its passing game. The Hurricanes' Haynes Eller has 1,715 passing yards and a reliable receiver in Kaunyae Burgans, who made 13 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns last week and has 711 receiving yards this season.

The Cyclones, who had never been past the quarterfinals prior to last season's state championship run, have won 26 games in a row, and nine of their 10 on-field wins this season are by 22-plus points. Bryson Rollins has thrown for 1,739 yards and 26 touchdowns, with 1,133 of those yards going to Hughes, who has 17 touchdown catches.

Class 5A

Oak Ridge Wildcats (8-3) at Rhea County Golden Eagles (10-1): Wildcats junior Kendall Jackson, who has rushed for more than 900 yards, has offers from Tennessee, Duke and Arizona State among others. No other Oak Ridge player has more than 222 yards on the ground, but four receivers have more than 250 yards and Mitchell Gibbons has thrown for nearly 1,600 yards.

Rhea County's Dalton Hampton and Ethan Davis each has rushed more than 975 yards this season, but the offense has struggled through the past two games. The Golden Eagles got a lift on special teams last week when Jadden Pankey returned a blocked field-goal attempt 93 yards for a score, but they will need the offense to get untracked and the defense to be as stout as it was in last week's shutout.

Walker Valley Mustangs (8-2) at Knoxville West Rebels (10-1): Led by Tre'Von Barfield's 155 yards on just three carries, the Rebels averaged 14 yards per carry and lit up the scoreboard for 42 points in the first quarter alone last week. The Mustangs have never advanced past the second round in the 20-year history of their program.

Class 6A

Bradley Central Bears (8-3) at Maryville Rebels (11-0): This is a rematch of their regular-season meeting, when the Bears led 10-7 at halftime before Maryville rallied to win 35-13. The Rebels have reached at least the quarterfinals every season since 1996 and at least the semifinal round for 21 straight years.

McMinn County Cherokees (10-1) at Dobyns-Bennett Indians (9-2): Cherokees senior running back Jalen Hunt continues putting up outrageous numbers, closing in on 2,500 yards this season after he accounted for all but 143 of the Cherokees' offensive yards last week, rushing for 291 with three touchdowns. McMinn County has not advanced past the second round since 2001.

Dobyns-Bennett, which has averaged 37 points per game, rolled up 507 total yards but needed a late touchdown to hold off Cleveland last week, when Indians quarterback Zane White and running back Tylar Tesnear each accounted for 171 yards.

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.

photo Staff photo by Robin Rudd / McMinn County cheerleaders clap as the Cherokees take the field for a home football game against Maryville on Oct. 23.


Friday, Nov. 13, 2020TENNESSEETSSAA playoffs, second roundGames begin at 7 p.m. local timeClass 1AMonterey at South PittsburgClass 2AHampton at Meigs CountyMarion County at WatertownTrousdale County at Bledsoe CountyClass 3ABrainerd at Red BankClass 4AEast Hamilton at ElizabethtonClass 5AOak Ridge at Rhea CountyWalker Valley at Knoxville WestClass 6ABradley Central at MaryvilleMcMinn County at Dobyns-BennettDivision II-AAA quarterfinalMcCallie at Christian BrothersGEORGIAGames begin at 7:30 p.m.Armuchee at Gordon LeeCartersville at CalhounChattooga at PepperellGordon Central at Dade CountyHeritage at PickensLaFayette at RockmartLakeview-F.O. at Murray CountyNorth Murray at AdairsvillePaulding County at DaltonRidgeland at Northwest WhitfieldRinggold at SonoravilleTrion at Mount Zion-CarrollSaturday, Nov. 14, 2020TENNESSEETSSAA playoffsDivision II-AAA quarterfinalBaylor at Montgomery Bell Academy, 8