BlueCross Bowl preview: Thursday's TSSAA title games at Finley Stadium

Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Donelson Christian Academy quarterback Bradford Gaines (12) is sacked by Silverdale Baptist Academy's Kyle Shoemaker during a regular-season game on Sept. 24 in Chattanooga.

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Christ Presbyterian Academy Lions (11-2) vs. Lipscomb Academy Mustangs (11-1), 11 a.m.

What to know: This is a rematch of last year's title game, won 35-28 by CPA, and is also a rematch from Oct. 22, when Lipscomb rolled 38-0. It marks the fourth straight year CPA has appeared in the title game. In addition to last year, the Lions also won championships in 2000 and 2002 (Class 1A), 2014 (3A) and 2018 (DII-AA).

CPA beat a pair of DII-AAA opponents this season, winning 21-17 against Brentwood Academy and 24-10 against MBA, which will also play for a title in its classification. The Lions' other loss was to nationally ranked Oakland, 27-24, which will play for the Class 6A title.

Lipscomb also lost to Oakland, 29-21, the only time this year the Mustangs were held below 35 points. Lipscomb has outscored opponents by an average of 55-9 this season. The Mustangs have not won a title since moving to Division II; their previous championships came in 3A (2007) and 2A (1994, 2002).

Who to watch for: Lipscomb has two Tennessee Titans Mr. Football finalists: Running back Alex Broome and quarterback Luther Richesson. Broome is committed to Boston College, and he has rushed for 1,263 yards and 21 touchdowns this year, when he also has 781 receiving yards and 12 touchdown catches. Richesson is a three-year starter who has thrown for 2,767 yards and 37 scores; he attempted 207 passes before throwing an interception.

Lipscomb junior linebacker Bryan Longwell, who has 13 tackles for loss and five sacks, has an offer from Liberty University, while senior defensive back Jaden Lyles is committed to Austin Peay and junior wide receiver Nate Spillman has offers from Tennessee and Marshall.

CPA's Langston Patterson, committed to Vanderbilt, is also a Mr. Football finalist. He leads the defense with 113 tackles (12 for loss), along with 631 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Cade Law, a Vanderbilt baseball signee, is a three-year starter at quarterback for CPA who has thrown for 2,375 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 497 yards and 14 scores. He was last year's BlueCross Bowl MVP.

photo Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Donelson Christian Academy running back Ashton Jones gets caught from behind by Silverdale Baptist Academy's Brody Lamb during a regular-season game on Sept. 24 in Chattanooga.


Donelson Christian Academy Wildcats (11-1) vs. Nashville Christian Eagles (11-2), 3 p.m.

What to know: This is the first time in four years that Davidson Academy - which moved up in class and lost to Lipscomb Academy in the semifinals - won't play for the title.

This is a rematch of an Oct. 29 meeting won 7-3 by DCA, which is in the title round for the first time since 2017. Neither team has won a championship since moving to D-II. The Wildcats won titles in 1988, 1996 and 2004 (all in 1A), while Nashville Christian's only championship was in 2015 (also in 1A).

Who to watch for: Nashville Christian's Josh Strickland is a Mr. Football finalist who has rushed for 1,740 yards (averaging 10.5 per carry) and 33 touchdowns, while senior Tyler Morris has thrown for 1,324 yards and 14 scores.

DCA's Bradford Gaines is also a Mr. Football finalist, and he threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns in a semifinal win over University School of Jackson. Ashton Jones ran for 167 yards and three scores in that game, helping the Wildcats pull away with a 28-7 run in the second half.

photo Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / McCallie football takes the field for its game against rival Baylor on Oct. 2, 2020, at Finley Stadium.


McCallie Blue Tornado (12-0) vs. Montgomery Bell Academy Big Red (9-3), 7 p.m.

What to know: McCallie is looking to become the fourth program in the 25-year history of Division II to win three straight titles in the largest classification for private schools. The Blue Tornado are also trying to complete only their second undefeated championship season (2001 was the first) in program history.

McCallie has beaten opponents from three states, including Georgia power Calhoun, which is still alive in the GHSA Class AAAAA semifinals this week. Only three of the Blue Tornado's victories have come by fewer than 17 points, including a 34-31 road win over the Big Red. In that Sept. 3 game, McCallie scored two touchdowns in the final 9:46 to rally from an 11-point deficit and win for only the second time in the past 16 series meetings (the 2019 title game was the other).

In the regular-season matchup, McCallie's Ontario Price ran for 165 yards and three scores, including the winner from 4 yards with 2:46 remaining. The rest of the team combined for minus-16 rushing yards, but William Riddle threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns, including seven completions to Xavier Gaillardetz for 163 yards.

MBA, which has rebounded after opening the season 1-3, has finished runner-up the past four times it has reached the title game, with its most recent championship in 2014 over Ensworth. All seven of the Big Red's state titles have come in D-II (1998-99, 2000, '02, '03, '07, '14).

Who to watch for: McCallie senior William Riddle is a Mr. Football finalist who has thrown for 2,681 yards and 37 touchdowns against just five interceptions. Much of that total has gone to Gaillardetz, who has 53 catches for 1,139 yards 14 scores, and Price leads the teams in rushing with 915 yards and nine touchdowns. Wide receiver and defensive back Kenzy Paul recently decommitted from Vanderbilt and is now committed to Duke, while James Howard leads the Blue Tornado's defense with 24 solo tackles (12 for loss), along with 18 assists and five sacks; senior linebacker Aaron Crowder has 18 solos and 22 assists.

MBA quarterback Marcel Reed is one of the state's top-rated junior prospects with offers from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Baylor, Florida, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. He has 1,380 passing yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 537 yards and 12 scores on the ground. Senior running back Rhett Hayles has 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Johnothan Moore has added 622 yards and four scores. Claiborne Richards leads the team with 819 receiving yards and four scores.

Big Red offensive line Grayson Morgan (6-5, 270), committed to Vanderbilt, has helped his team average 208 rushing yards per game.

Compiled by Stephen Hargis. Contact him at at or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.