With the regular season now in the rearview, 24 Chattanooga-area prep football teams are set to begin the five-week journey toward Cookeville, site of the annual BlueCross Bowl state championship games.
Pairings have been released for the TSSAA prep football playoffs, and beginning Friday the goal for each team is to simply survive and advance.
Five area teams — South Pittsburg in 1A, Tyner and Meigs County (2A), Soddy-Daisy (5A) and McCallie (Division II-AAA) won region championships to earn No. 1 seeds in their respective classifications' brackets. A total of 12 area teams will host first-round games next week, while McCallie and Baylor will have the first week off before hosting state quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 15.
Those two longtime rivals earned the top two seeds in DII-AAA, meaning they are on opposite sides of the bracket and could meet at the state title game on Dec. 5 at Tennessee Tech.
"That will be something special for the whole city," Baylor coach Phil Massey said. "But we've both got our work cut out for us before we can even think about that. There's still a long way to go, and right now we're just focused on getting ready for that first game."
Both area teams in the 6A bracket will face opponents they've already played this season as McMinn County hosts Bearden, which it beat 37-13 five weeks ago, and the Bradley Central Bears travel to Farragut in a rematch of their season-opening meeting, which the Admirals won by seven points.
TSSAA prep football playoffs first-round matchups
Jo Byrns (2-8) at South Pittsburg (9-0)
Gordonsville (3-7) at Copper Basin (6-4)
Sale Creek (4-6) at Clay County (7-3)
Whitwell (2-8) at Monterey (10-0)
Westmoreland (5-5) at Tyner (7-3)
East Robertson (5-5) at Bledsoe County (7-3)
Marion County (2-8) at Trousdale County (8-1)
Happy Valley (7-3) at Meigs County (9-1)
Sequatchie County (6-4) at Red Bank (8-1)
Signal Mountain (4-6) at Upperman (9-1)
Sullivan South (5-5) at East Hamilton (7-3)
Howard (7-3) at Greeneville (8-2)
East Ridge (6-4) at Elizabethton (10-0)
Oak Ridge (5-5) at Soddy-Daisy (6-4)
Knoxville Fulton (3-7) at Rhea County (8-2)
Walker Valley (4-6) at Knoxville West (9-1)
Bradley Central (7-3) at Farragut (5-5)
Bearden (4-6) at McMinn County (9-1)
Grace Academy (3-6) at University School of Jackson (7-3)
Christian Academy of Knoxville (8-2) at Chattanooga Christian (6-3)
Lipscomb Academy (5-5) at Boyd Buchanan (8-2)
Another first-round rematch will be Chattanooga Christian against visiting Christian Academy of Knoxville in DII-AA. The Chargers, who will be hosting a playoff game for the first time in program history, defeated CAK 14-3 in week five.
In 4A, East Hamilton earned the right to host an opening-round playoff game for the first time since 2013 with Friday night's 23-0 win at Howard. The Hurricanes will face Sullivan South, while Howard must travel to two-time reigning state champ Greeneville.
"We're really excited to get to play that first game at home," Hurricanes coach Grant Reynolds said. "This time of year, when the weather is bad and there are a lot of outside factors that can decide a game, you want to play as many of these games at home as possible."
Also in 4A, East Ridge travels to top-ranked Elizabethton.
The only first-round game involving two area teams facing one another is in 3A as Red Bank hosts Sequatchie County. Those teams met in last year's second round, with Red Bank holding on for a three-point win. Red Bank will be looking to rebound from Friday night's home defeat to Loudon with the Region 3 title on the line, the Lions' first loss of the season.
Both Tyner and third-ranked Meigs County are expected to make deep runs in the 2A playoffs, and South Pittsburg, ranked No. 1 in 1A, will be looking to reach the state title game after a five-year absence. The Pirates have lost to the eventual state champions the past two seasons.
All kickoffs are at 7 p.m. local time.