Black Friday came early in the Chattanooga area as last week's opening round of the TSSAA football playoffs wiped out more than half the local teams that reached the postseason.
Only eight of the 22 local teams that took the field last week advanced. Baylor and McCallie did not play last week but return to action Friday night as the Division II-AAA playoffs begin with quarterfinals.
Postseason pedigree matters as 69 of the 120 remaining playoff teams across the state have appeared in a championship game. One that hasn't yet but is working toward that goal is Chattanooga Christian.
It's been 10 years since the school began its football program, and this season has already been one of firsts. The Chargers hosted a playoff game for the first time last week — an impressive 32-point win over Christian Academy of Knoxville — and now have the opportunity to create even more excitement around campus.
CCS travels to Nashville to face reigning DII-AA state champion Christ Presbyterian Academy, where a win will send the Lions past the second round of the playoffs for the first time in program history.
"I've seen teams here before that when the regular season ended and you told them they had four more weeks of practice and games to get to a championship, they just weren't ready for that type commitment," Chargers coach Mark Mariakis said. "It's not easy, but this group wants to continue showing up every day to work together toward that."
In his four years as coach, Mariakis has helped change the culture and expectations of the program. A pair of juniors — twins Traveon and Treveon Scott — have helped the Chargers reach the doorstep of the semifinal round.
Traveon, better known around campus as "Tink," and Treveon, known simply as "Cheese," are as similar in their versatility as their appearance. Tink (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) has piled up 963 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns this year while playing a variety of skill positions. Cheese (6-2, 220) has played tight end, offensive tackle, defensive end, defensive tackle and linebacker.
"They threw us in the fire as freshmen, and the toughest part was adjusting to the speed of the game," Traveon said, "but now we've got a lot of experience in different areas and we can help the team in a lot of ways."
Added Treveon: "I think we both feel honored that the coaches trust us enough and have confidence in us to play us wherever the team needs us to help. We just want to do whatever it takes to keep winning."
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
Friday, Nov. 15, 2019
All kickoffs at 7 p.m. local time
Clay County (8-3) at South Pittsburg (10-0)
Whitwell (3-8) at Gordonsville (4-7)
Trousdale County (9-1) at Tyner (8-3)
Bledsoe County (8-3) at Watertown (9-2)
South Greene (10-1) at Meigs County (10-1)
Red Bank (9-1) at Upperman (10-1)
Rhea County (9-2) at Powell (11-0)
Division II-AA quarterfinals
Chattanooga Christian (7-3) at CPA (5-6)
Division II-AAA quarterfinals
MBA (6-4) at Baylor (9-1)
Christian Brothers (6-4) at McCallie (8-2)
Chattanooga Christian (7-3) at CPA (5-6): The Lions' record is a bit deceiving. Five of their losses were to teams in larger classifications, with the other to Evangelical Christian, the top-ranked program in DII-AA. All six teams that beat them are still alive in the postseason.
CPA is led by junior athlete Maverick Rodriguez, who caught five passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 35-0 win over Knoxville Webb.
Up next: The winner will play the Knoxville Grace-Lipscomb Academy winner. CCS would travel to Grace but host Lipscomb.
MBA (6-4) at Baylor (9-1): This is the eighth time these teams have met in the postseason. It's also a rematch of their Oct. 25 regular-season meeting, which second-ranked Baylor won 14-6 in a downpour. The Red Raiders rallied for two touchdowns and a safety in the third quarter, and their defense forced three turnovers and allowed just 164 total yards.
Montgomery Bell Academy quarterback Marcel Reed, the son of Tennessee State coach Ron Reed, is only a freshman but has thrown for 726 yards since taking over as the starter in week five. Junior Patrick Wilk leads the Big Red with 663 rushing yards.
Up next: The winner will play the Memphis University School-Knoxville Catholic winner. Baylor would travel to MUS but host Catholic.
Christian Brothers (6-4) at McCallie (8-2): These programs haven't faced off since the 2006 semifinals, a win for McCallie. The third-ranked Blue Tornado, though, lost their last two regular-season games, falling to Florida's Clearwater Academy International and East Region foe Ensworth.
The Purple Wave are led by senior Al Wooten, a 1,000-yard rusher who has also returned two kickoffs for scores and leads the team in tackles. Quarterback Ashton Strother has thrown only one interception this season, and fellow sophomore Dallan Hayden, son of former University of Tennessee running back Aaron Hayden, already has several college offers including from the Volunteers.
Up next: The winner will play the Briarcrest-Ensworth winner. McCallie would host either team, while Christian Brothers would travel.
Clay County (8-3) at South Pittsburg (10-0): This will be a matchup of two of the top-rated defenses in the classification. Clay County has allowed an average of just 6.1 points per game, including six in which the Bulldogs did not allow an offensive score.
Although senior quarterback Jake Ashlock (6-4, 220) has a strong arm, the Bulldogs — who are past the first round for the first time since 1997 — have relied heavily on their running game. Meanwhile, South Pittsburg has allowed just 2.8 yards per run and 82 rushing yards per game.
The top-ranked Pirates have advanced to at least the quarterfinal round in nine of the past 10 years under coach Vic Grider. Last week they scored each of their first four touchdowns in four or fewer plays, with Mr. Football semifinalist Ronto Tipton finding the end zone on four of his five carries and sophomore DeAndre Kelly averaging 21 yards on his five runs.
Up next: The winner will host either Whitwell or Gordonsville.
Whitwell (3-8) at Gordonsville (4-7): Both teams are examples of the importance of playing well at the right time. In the six public-school classifications, only five teams with losing records advanced last week. Five No. 4 seeds knocked off No. 1 seeds across the state, but Whitwell pulled off the biggest upset regardless of classification by traveling to fourth-ranked and previously unbeaten Monterey to win 21-7. The other seven No. 4 seeds in 1A lost by an average score of 43-8.
In reaching the second round for the fifth straight year, Whitwell — which has won three of its past five games — jumped out to a 14-0 lead and held a team that had averaged 36 points this season to just one score. Cole Burns had two touchdowns of 25-plus yards, Trenton Stockwell added a 58-yard score and Jace Kilgore had 10 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery.
After having 11 regular contributors miss games due to injury, Gordonsville is as healthy as it has been since the season began.
Up next: The winner will travel to Clay County or South Pittsburg.
Trousdale County (9-1) at Tyner (8-3): Trousdale physically pounded Tyner in the second round last year, holding the Rams to just 77 total yards — including 9 rushing — in a 35-0 whipping.
Senior Tarvaris Claiborne (6-3, 220) is a star on both sides of the ball for the second-ranked Yellow Jackets, whose only setback this season was a three-point loss at fifth-ranked Watertown in the second week. Claiborne is an all-state linebacker and the leading rusher for last year's state runner-up.
Both teams pitched shutouts while cruising in blowouts last week. The Rams did not allow Westmoreland to cross their 46-yard line, allowing just 100 total yards, forcing five turnovers and scoring on three of those.
Up next: The winner will host the Bledsoe County-Watertown winner.
Bledsoe County (8-3) at Watertown (9-2): Bledsoe County, which is in the second round for the first time in six seasons, was led last week by Colby Rogers' 250 yards of offense.
For Watertown, senior running back Deramus Carey and sophomore quarterback Brayden Cousino make up an athletic backfield that has helped put up 34-plus points in six of the past eight games for the fifth-ranked Purple Tigers.
Up next: The winner will travel to the Trousdale-Tyner winner.
South Greene (10-1) at Meigs County (10-1): This is a rematch of last year's quarterfinal meeting, a 29-point Meigs win that sent it past the second round for the first time. In last week's win over Rockwood, the sixth-ranked Rebels ran the ball on 41 of their 43 snaps and also scored a defensive touchdown.
The third-ranked Tigers outgained Happy Valley 362-70 in total yards last week and have reached at least the quarterfinals the past two seasons.
Up next: The winner will play the Hampton-Oneida winner. Meigs would travel to Hampton but host Oneida.
Red Bank (9-1) at Upperman (10-1): These teams met in last year's quarterfinals, with Upperman winning in impressive fashion. After trailing 14-7, the Bees outscored Red Bank 21-0 in the second quarter and put the game away with a 22-0 run in the fourth to win 50-21. They also outrushed the Lions 344 yards to 64.
Bees quarterback Donoven McCallister, a Mr. Football semifinalist, has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 — averaging more than 8 yards per carry — and also has 75 tackles. The defense is even more impressive, having not allowed more than 20 points in any game and holding eight opponents to 10 or fewer points, including five shutouts.
Sixth-ranked Red Bank's defense has been similarly stingy, holding seven opponents to 10 or fewer points.
Up next: The winner will travel to the Loudon-Smith County winner.
Rhea County (9-2) at Powell (11-0): Both teams are enjoying bounce-back seasons after finishing with losing records last year. Second-ranked Powell has made one of the biggest turnarounds in the state after finishing 2-8 last year, and the Panthers are assured of their first winning record since their 2012 semifinal run.
A big reason for their success is senior defensive lineman Colton Webb, who has committed to East Tennessee State University and has 80 solo tackles, 22 tackles for loss, seven sacks and 32 quarterback pressures to lead a unit that has allowed just 12 points per game. Senior quarterback Walker Trusley, who has committed to ETSU for baseball, guides an offense that has averaged 36 points per game.
The Eagles, who are looking to get past the second round for the first time in four years, attempted just one pass last week, forced four fumbles — recovering one for a score — and put the game away with a 28-point second quarter.
Up next: The winner will host the Knoxville West-Oak Ridge winner.