After one of the more bizarre seasons for any prep football team in Tennessee, Red Bank ended the regular season where it was projected in the preseason — atop Region 3-3A.
The Lions, who have not lost on the field this season but did have a forfeit region loss to Brainerd due to a COVID-19 quarantine, earned the region championship Friday with a convincing 13-0 win at third-ranked Loudon.
In a one-day span, Red Bank (7-1, 4-1) went from the likelihood of finishing third in the region to dethroning last year's region champ and securing home-field advantage in the playoffs. It began with Brainerd's upset loss to McMinn Central on Thursday, which opened the door for the Lions to surge to the top of the league by snapping Loudon's nine-game region winning streak.
"We have an incredibly resilient group of kids who value the chance to play football and went out and took care of business," Lions coach Chris Brown said. "There's something to be said for securing the one seed and proving we're the best team in the region.
"Our front four, which is comprised of about eight kids, came in and made their quarterback uncomfortable with pressure all night. This allows us to play in front of our community, which is a really big deal."
After stopping the Redskins on their opening possession, Red Bank jumped in front on Devon Benn's diving catch in the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown. Senior Lumiere Strickland added a second-quarter touchdown run and finished with more than 100 rushing yards.
Loudon (8-1, 4-1) came into the game having averaged 40 points per game this season but was stuffed by the Red Bank defense, with Strickland's fourth-quarter interception in the end zone turning away the Redskins' best scoring opportunity.
McCallie 10, Ensworth 0: After a scoreless first half, the Blue Tornado got on the scoreboard with a 27-yard third-quarter field goal by Jack Conklin. McCallie (6-3, 3-2) put the game away with a 7-yard touchdown run by B.J. Harris late in the fourth quarter. Harris finished with 31 carries for 141 yards, and junior quarterback William Riddle threw for 112 yards as McCallie outgained the Tigers 335-214. J.D. Tessman led the Blue Tornado defense with nine tackles, inclduing two for loss.
McMinn County 41, Bradley Central 25: The Cherokees trailed by one point at halftime but scored a pair of unanswered touchdowns to begin the third quarter, then answered a Bears field goal with another touchdown to pull away and secure second place in Region 2-6A.
Senior running back Jalen Hunt ran for more than 100 yards in the first half and finished with 25 carries for 292 yards and five touchdowns, while quarterback Jayden Miller added 71 rushing yards and a score. Javon Burke led the Bears, who finish third in the region and will travel in next week's first round of the state playoffs, with 34 carries for 178 yards, while C.J. Hardy finished with eight tackles, four for loss.
Bledsoe County 49, Tellico Plains 8: The Warriors, who already owned the Region 3-2A title, finished off the program's first undefeated regular season by taking control early, building a 42-0 lead by halftime. Bledsoe County (10-0, 4-0) rolled up 300 rushing yards, led by Dylan Robeck's 151 yards on 10 carries. Cadillac Siever added 90 yards and two scores, and quarterback Harmon Keith completed 10 of 11 passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns, including one to Garrett Tharpe.
Marion County 28, Rhea County 14: The visiting Warriors raced to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never allowed Class 5A's fourth-ranked Golden Eagles to rally. The nonregion loss prevented the Golden Eagles (9-1) from their first undefeated regular season since 2014.
Taye Hutchins led Marion with 24 carries for 187 yards and a touchdown, and he also threw for 44 yards and a score and had an interception on defense. Rylee Rogers ran 11 times for 108 yards for the Warriors, who rolled up 363 rushing yards on 54 carries and finished with 450 total yards.
Kaleb Martin threw for 266 yards for Rhea County, which lost four fumbles, and Jayden Goodwin had seven catches for 115 yards.
Brentwood Academy 21, Baylor 20: The Red Raiders built as much as a 10-point lead on the top-ranked Eagles but were not able to hold off a second-half rally. Taylor Montiel's 4-yard run with 5:03 remaining and Teagen Lenderin's point-after kick proved to be the winning margin.
Elijah Howard ran 26 times for 170 yards and a score for Baylor, which outgained Brentwood Academy 330-325 but was held to just a fourth-quarter field goal in the second half.
East Ridge 37, Hixson 34: With three seconds left on the clock, Luis Serrato booted a 20-yard field goal to send the Pioneers to the 4A playoffs. Hixson's season is over. Cameron Sanders threw one touchdown pass for the winners, ran for another and scored a third touchdown on an interception return. Defensive lineman Azontay Sills also had a big night for the winners, who will face Elizabethton in the first round of the playoffs. The Pioneers improve to 6-4 overall and 3-3 in Region 2-4A.
Signal Mountain 20, Sweetwater 7: The Eagles (4-4, 2-3) secured the fourth and final playoff spot out of Region 3-3A thanks to a home win in which Andrew Eichner caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Duncan Cannon and ran for a second score. Braden Casner also scored on a 9-yard run for the winners.
Fayetteville 42, Sale Creek 6: The Panthers (4-6) were no match for host Fayetteville in the nonregion game. Sale Creek's lone score came on a 30-yard toss from Cam Penny to his brother Braden late in the game.
Grace Academy 34, Franklin Grace 30: Grace Academy finished a 2-7 season on a high note with a road victory. Quarterback Cooper Knecht threw three touchdown passes, hitting Cole Mason on a 70-yarder, Mason Long on a 50-yard score and Tyler Parrott for another score.
Meigs County 62, Wartburg 8: Will Meadows ran 10 times for 136 yards and three touchdowns, and Logan Carroll completed all six of his passes for 86 yards and a score as the Tigers earned the Region 2-2A win and finished the regular season unbeaten.
Whitwell 51, Lookout Valley 13: The youthful Tigers rolled to their first Region 3-1A win, which was good enough to secure the fourth and final playoff spot.
Other area scores: Tyner 28, Polk County 7; Knoxville Grace 27, Boyd Buchanan 17; Smith County 15, Grundy County 0.