2017 football playoffs preview

bex-2017-11-02-football-playoff-preview-wThe 2017 TSSAA football regular season came to a conclusion this past Friday. The first Friday of November in Tennessee means playoff time across the Volunteer State.

By the time the night concludes on the first Saturday in December, there will be nine State champions ranging from the six classifications in Division I to the three classes in Division II. Here is a breakdown of our area’s teams going into the First Round.

No. 1, Germantown vs. No. 8 ,Houston (Division I-6A): The Red Devils (10-0) wrapped up an impressive 2017 campaign with a 29-21 victory over the defending Class 6A State champions Whitehaven Tigers on the road. Earlier in the season Germantown defeated rival Houston 35-24. The Mustangs’ 6-4 mark features an impressive victory over Brighton. Houston finished the regular-season with a 27-7 win over St. George’s.

No. 2, Briarcrest vs. McCallie (Division II-3A): The McCallie Blue Tornado will roll into town from Chattanooga with a 7-3 overall record. The Saints (9-1) have a tough task in the opening round of the playoffs. The only defeat Briarcrest suffered during the regular season was to the unbeaten Christian Brothers Purple Wave. While the Saints feature a powerful offense, the Blue Tornado has scored at least 40 points in each win this season. McCallie’s only defeats came courtesy of MBA, Blessed Trinity of Georgia and the unbeaten Brentwood Academy.

No. 3, Cordova vs. Memphis Central (Division I-6A): The Cordova Wolves (8-2) enter the playoff scoring 110 points in their last two games beating Arlington and Bartlett. The Cordova offense has been consistent all season but there are some concerns on defense. The 38-0 shutout of the Panthers in the regular-season finale is a good sign for the Wolves as the Memphis Central Warriors come calling. Central was guaranteed a playoff spot in its first season back in 6A playing in a four-team league. The Warriors have dropped five games in a row after starting 4-0 with wins over Memphis East and Mitchell.

No. 4, Munford vs. Clarksville (Division I-5A): The Munford Cougars left Brighton last Friday, suffering a 21-20 loss. But as they headed to the bus, news came down that Southwind’s victory over Ridgeway gave them a home game. The Cougars (8-2) will host Clarksville. Munford has the running attack to control the clock and rack up points, scoring more than 40 points five times. If the Cougar defense shows up, holding five opponents to 12 or less, it could be a long night for Clarksville. The Wildcats enter the playoffs 5-5. Clarksville’s inconsistency can be summed up in the final two weeks of the regular season, beating Clarksville Northwest 56-22 and losing to West Creek 20-13.

No. 5, Arlington vs. White Station (Division I-6A): The Arlington Tigers endured a tough schedule taking on the likes of Raleigh-Egypt, Cordova, Southwind and Collierville. The Tigers finished 7-3 only dropping games to Raleigh-Egypt, Southwind and Cordova. Arlington has victories over current playoff teams Houston, Collierville and First Round foe the White Station Spartans 35-31. The Spartans’ 3-7 record is deceiving, playing maybe an even tougher schedule than Arlington. White Station is battle-tested playing Briarcrest, Mississippi teams DeSoto Central and Hernando. The Spartans have seen MBA, Germantown and Whitehaven three weeks in a row.

No. 6, Brighton vs. Dyer County (Division I-5A): The Region 8-5A champion Brighton Cardinals will welcome the Dyer County Choctaws to Tipton County Friday night. The 2017 season started slow for Brighton, losing three of its first four contests. Then a 52-46 win over Kirby sparked a 5-1 finish for the Cardinals with wins over Southwind and Munford. Dyer County is 5-5 entering Friday night winning its last two games over West Creek and Kenwood. The Choctaws were only held to under 10 points once during the season, losing to Henry County 55-7. Dyer County has a consistent offense but a defense that has given up more than 40 points five times.

No. 7, St. Benedict @ MUS (Division II-3A): The St. Benedict Eagles started the season 6-0. But down the stretch the Eagles were 1-3 including a loss to MUS 45-0. That victory by the Owls paid off giving MUS the home-field advantage in the First Round. MUS (5-5) played a tougher schedule in comparison to St. Benedict taking on Ridgeway, Seminole Ridge (Fla.), MBA, Douglass, Haywood and South Panola (Miss.). The Owls earned win over three of those foes. St. Benedict scored at least 41 points in all seven of its wins. But when an opponent hit more than 30 points, the Eagles has a crash landing.

No. 9, Tipton-Rosemark Academy vs. Middle Tennessee Christian (Division II-A): The 7-3 TRA Rebels are hosting their playoff game since 2004. The Rebels earned the achievement featuring a power running attack and a timely passing game. Solid special teams’ play helps TRA control field position. The defense has to play well in order to earn the win for TRA. When the Rebels have suffered defeat, opponents have score 56, 57 and 61 points. The 6-4 Middle Tennessee Christian Cougars can match TRA point for point, scoring at least 44 points in each victory.

No. 10, Collierville @ Whitehaven (Division I-6A): The Collierville Dragons have won four of the five last games. The only defeat came in the regular-season finale against Arlington. The Dragons (6-4) have a solid offense, scoring 144 points in the four wins over Wooddale, Memphis Central, St. George’s and Houston. The Dragons hope to score enough against one of the best defenses in the are with the Whitehaven Tigers. The defending 6A champs are coming off a loss to Germantown. Whitehaven (8-2) only defeats came courtesy of unbeatens Lausanne and Germantown. The Tigers have a stout defense with four shutouts during the season.

Millington @ Haywood (Division I-4A): The Millington Trojans will travel to Haywood County to take on the Tomcats in the First Round. The Region 7-4A champions enter the playoffs 8-2 with wins over quality opponents like Henry County, USJ, Liberty and Dyersburg. Haywood was unbeaten in league play. The Tomcats, outside of the Henry County win, scored at least 32 points in the rest of their victories. The Trojans (1-9) closed out the regular-season with a solid first half showing against the defending 4A champs East Mustangs. But Millington enters the playoffs with a list of injuries, battling a schedule featuring Munford, Germantown, St. Benedict and Raleigh-Egypt – a combined 35-5.

THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star. Contact him at (901) 433-9138 or thomas.sellers@journalinc.com.