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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / The Bradley Central student section cheers on the Bears during their Region 2-6A rivalry game at Cleveland last Friday night.

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES (3-0) at MEIGS COUNTY TIGERS (2-0)

This will be the first game for Class 2A's top-ranked Tigers in 21 days, and while it's a nonregion matchup, it will serve as a good way for both teams to measure where they stand. Meigs opened with a 30-point victory on Aug. 20 at Sweetwater and won by forfeit last week. How quickly the Tigers can knock off the rust could be a key to whether they're potentially upset fodder for the Eagles, who are off to a surprising start thanks to a defense that has allowed an average of just 9.7 points per game. Rip Hutcherson leads that group with 19 solo tackles and five tackles for loss, Aiden Adkins has 15 tackles and Pete Sesterhenn leads the area with three fumble recoveries. The Eagles have also proven they can close out narrow wins, with their past two games decided by a combined nine points. Senior quarterback Duncan Cannon followed the heroics of rallying his team to a win over Soddy-Daisy by throwing for 200 yards and two touchdowns last week against McMinn Central. Meigs has no shortage of playmakers, starting with the all-state tandem of dual-threat quarterback Logan Carroll and Cam Huckabey, a star athlete on offense as well as in the secondary and on special teams. Huckabey returned the opening kickoff against Sweetwater 90 yards for a touchdown, and Jackson Shaver returned an interception 70 yards for a score as the Tigers led 14-0 before taking their first snap.

 

SODDY-DAISY TROJANS (0-3) at RED BANK LIONS (1-1)

Neither team expected to be without an on-field win heading into this Region 3-4A opener between rivals. Red Bank opened with a 17-10 loss to Cleveland, won by COVID-19 forfeit against Ooltewah the week after that and already had an open date last week, leaving the Lions even more time to deal with the frustration of a close loss. If they're able to avoid future schedule interruptions, expect their offense to become one of the area's most consistent, because there are simply too many players with explosive athleticism not to put up impressive numbers. That includes senior quarterback Joseph Blackmon, a dual threat, and twin brother Josh, one of the city's fastest players. Reco Trimble and A.D. Crutcher have big-play potential as running backs as well as on defense. Soddy-Daisy has averaged just 9.0 points per game despite quarterback Slater Hickman having thrown for 513 yards so far and running back Tanner Whittenbarger averaging nearly 4 yards per carry. The Trojans' Sonny Carter ranks among the area leaders in tackles, though, and Kayden Phillips has been similarly impressive with 11 for loss.

(READ MORE: Hargis: Number of COVID-19 cancellations this football season cause for concern)

 

BRADLEY CENTRAL BEARS (3-0) at McMINN COUNTY CHEROKEES (1-2)

With ownership of county bragging rights extended for another year after impressive wins over Walker Valley and Cleveland the past two weeks, the Bears will now try to snap a two-game series skid against a nonregion rival. Bradley Central, which rose to No. 5 in the latest Class 6A state rankings, also has a chance to begin a season with four straight wins for the first time since 2016. The defense has been consistently dominant in every game, particularly in the second half. After allowing just 34 yards on 33 rushes by Walker Valley, the Bears limited Cleveland to fewer than 100 total yards in last week's second half, and Knox Watson, who finished with 13 tackles, returned an interception for the go-ahead score. The Bears also have 11 combined sacks in their past two games. Sophomore running back Jackson Wilson has been their best offensive weapon, rushing for nearly 400 yards in the past two games. For the Cherokees, senior quarterback Jayden Miller is the go-to player, having thrown for 329 yards so far, while running back Davion Evans has offered balance with 301 rushing yards. Miller accounted for more than 200 total yards in last week's region loss to Rhea County, which outscored the Cherokees 20-6 in the second half of what had been a tie game at halftime.

 

RINGGOLD TIGERS (2-0) at NORTH MURRAY MOUNTAINEERS (1-0)

GHSA Region 6-AAA play kicks off with a big one as two playoff hopefuls clash in Chatsworth. Each is coming off an impressive win, with the Mountaineers rallying past Northwest Whitfield 31-30 as Seth Griffin passed for 319 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 57 yards and another score. The Tigers routed Ridgeland 44-0 with a strong ground game and another stout defensive effort (79 yards allowed), and they'll need another against a team that put up 62 points in winning last year's shootout. If there was concern about North Murray's receivers, it was put to rest last week as Jadyn Rice had 167 yards and two scores on nine catches. He'll be joined by senior Michael McDade, out last week, to form a potent duo. The Tigers have the firepower to keep up: dual threat Mason Parker passed for three scores last week, Kori Dumas has rushed for 260 yards in two games and athlete Peyton Williams has four touchdowns. The secondary is a team strength but will be severely tested, and how it holds up will likely determine the outcome.

 

CHRISTIAN HERITAGE LIONS (1-2) at HERITAGE GENERALS (1-0)

Mistakes have cost Christian Heritage early against good competition, but last week's 34-32 nail-biter over King's Ridge Christian showed why the Dalton program could again have a strong season in Class A private. Senior two-way star Solomon Locke rushed for 201 yards — giving him 368 this season — while adding 13 tackles, three for loss, two sacks and two safeties. Christian Thomas has 743 total yards but has completed only 50% of his passes, though he is working with an entirely new group of receivers. One of those, Wyatt Brumlow, seems to have emerged as the go-to guy with 253 yards and three touchdowns. The Lions' defense, gutted by graduation, is still seeking consistency. The Generals won their season opener last week after having two games called off due to COVID-19, and it was quite the debut for quarterback Kaden Swope, who rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 93 yards and two scores in a 34-14 win over King's Academy. On defense, Swope and linebacker Bryce Travillian each had three tackles for loss, and three players had an interception. The Generals will try to avenge last year's 39-7 Christian Heritage win.

Compiled by Stephen Hargis and Lindsey Young. Contact Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis. Contact Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.

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Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Christian Heritage quarterback Christian Thomas, right, looks for running room but can't find it as Heritage's Kaden Swope, left, and Bryce Travillian close in during their nonregion matchup in September 2020 in Dalton, Ga.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

Friday, Sept. 10, 2021

Games start at 7:30 p.m. Eastern unless noted

TENNESSEE

Anderson County at Rhea County

Bradley Central at McMinn County

Christian Academy of Knoxville at Boyd Buchanan

Chattanooga Christian at Baylor

Chrisitan Community at Grace Academy

East Hamilton at Sequoyah

East Ridge at Cleveland

Harriman at Sale Creek

Hixson at Central

Lookout Valley at Hayesville (N.C.)

McMinn Central at Polk County

Sequatchie County at Jackson County

Signal Mountain at Meigs County

Soddy-Daisy at Red Bank

Stellar Prep at McCallie

Sweetwater at Bledsoe County, 8

Tyner at Brainerd

Walker Valley at Carter

GEORGIA

Adairsville at Murray County

Calhoun at Ridgeland

Chattooga at Northwest Whitfield

Christian Heritage at Heritage

Coahulla Creek at Rockmart

Howard at Trion

LaFayette at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe

Ringgold at North Murray

Southeast Whitfield at Fannin County

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