In a scheduling anomaly, Lebanon and Wilson Central will play at home the same night for the only time this season as the Blue Devils wrap up their home slate and the Wildcats play their first in familiar surroundings after five straight on the road.
Friendship Christian will be home for the only time in a five-week stretch as quarterback A.J. Long is expected to be back in the Commanders’ lineup against Franklin Road Academy.
For everybody, this Week 5 marks either the halfway mark of the season or the start of the year’s second half as the playoff races will soon start to take shape.
Cookeville at Lebanon
After many successful seasons under Jerry Joslin, longtime Smith County coach Jimmy Maynord has taken over in Cookeville and, like he often did with the Owls, has the Cavaliers off to a good start at 4-1.
“They’re pretty solid,” Lebanon coach Sam Harp said of the Cavaliers, whose only loss came in Week 1 to Cleveland while their wins have largely come handily. “Honestly, they remind me of Lincoln County.
“They’re well coached. Watching them on film, their kids play hard all four quarters. Look to be a disciplined type of football team.”
Cookeville will run multiple offenses ranging from the spread to the I, Harp said.
“Their forte is going to be trying to run the ball downhill, but they’ll also get in the spread and throw it,” said Harp, whose Blue Devils are 1-4. “They got a kid who’s a big quarterback, 6-6, 235 pounds and he’s got a cannon.”
Cookeville ran a 4-3 defense in one game, but use a 3-4 or a 50 in most other games, Harp said.
“[The 3-4 or 50] is kind of what I expect they’ll bring against us,” Harp said. “Their noseguard [Chase Scott] is about a 6-1, 190 pounder who’s quick off the ball. John Huddleston’s got his work cut out again. This is going to be a similar guy to who Lincoln County had on the nose.
“Their tackles play good strong technique type of football. How you block, they’re more like readers. But they’ll slant quite a bit and we got to be able to pick that up.”
Harp said that for the first time this season, the Blue Devils escaped any new injuries last week. Fullback Adam Hokanson may return this week, he said.
Dickson County at Wilson Central
The Wildcats are catching the long-proud Cougars program in an 0-5 rebuilding campaign. Dickson County went 10-2 last year, losing to Mt. Juliet in the second round of the playoffs.
“Definitely big up front,” Wildcats coach Brad Dedman said of the Cougars. “Probably average around 240-250. They got a really good running back [Otis Gerron]... He runs the ball really hard.
“They run a little bit of everything. They’re mostly a wing-T team. Anything that involves getting the ball to [Gerron], they’ll do.”
Dedman said Dickson will try to get the ball to wide receiver Tracy Green.
“We got to make sure we know where [Green] is and to make sure we have somebody on him,” Dedman said.
Dickson County runs a base 4-3 defense, but will run multiple fronts.
“Inside tackles are really good,” Dedman said. “They do a good job of keeping people off the linebackers.
“The linebackers do a good job of running to the football.”
Watertown at Cannon County
The Lions are 1-3 with three shutout losses and a 28-25 win over Red Boiling Springs, which became Watertown’s first victim last week after the Purple Tigers opened the season with four straight losses.
“They got pretty good size, two to three good running backs,” Watertown coach Gavin Webster said of the Lions, who run a 4-3 defense and a single wing offense.
But because the Tigers have seen Monterey run the single wing in recent seasons, that historic offense which has been largely relegated to the scrap heap for decades, is not as strange to Watertown as it might otherwise be.
“They do have some spread sets, but their main thing is getting in the single wing and running the ball,” Webster said.
The Tigers suffered no new injuries last week and could have some people coming back. Brandon George suffered a concussion two weeks ago against Oneida while Logan Cherry and Robert Caruthers [non-football injury] were said to be day to day by Webster.
“We got a few banged up, got a few nagging injuries,” Webster said.
Franklin Road Academy at Friendship Christian
Long suited up for practice this week after missing the three previous games for undisclosed reasons. He will be a sight for sore eyes which have seen the Commanders struggle in road losses to Trousdale County and Knoxville Webb in falling to 2-2.
“He’s playing,” Commander coach John McNeal said of Long. “He’ll make a difference as far as [defenses] having to respect the pass. We’ll be able to do a lot more this week.”
Like Friendship, FRA is 2-2.
“They’re big up front, they’ll be as big as anybody we’ve seen,” McNeal said of the Panthers. “Their linemen are where they have their experience. They have good skill kids but they’re younger. A lot of the linemen are seniors.
“They run a 5-2 [defense] and multiple sets offensively.”
On the injury front, while Long is returning to the lineup, receiver Hayden White may be out a couple of weeks due to repeated cramping, McNeal said.
Mt. Juliet at Centennial
In this battle of 3-2 teams, the Cougars have won three in a row and lead District 11-AAA at 2-0. One of the wins is their first-ever over Brentwood. They are led by junior running back Deon Sanders.
“As the wins have continued to pile up, his carries and yards have continued to pile up,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said. “They’ve gotten timely passing.
“They’ve averaged 70 plays per game. That’s unheard of in high school football. That’s about a college football team type of stat. What that’s doing is keeping the ball out of the other team’s hand.”
Centennial runs old I-formation plays out of the spread, Perry said.
“They do everything from a shotgun,” Perry said. “But it’s a lot like an I. They have two backs, double tights with a single back, just like you would do under center.
“They’re a spread power team. I think that’s the new phrase.
“They’re big up front. They’re a lot like Wilson Central up front. They have people who can hurt you in space.”
Ravenwood runs a 3-4 defense.
[Coach Brian Rector’s] mentality on defense is to be very aggressive,” Perry said. “The strength of their defense is their outside linebacker. They do a great job penetrating on the point of attack.”
Huntland at Mt. Juliet Christian
The Hornets are coming off a 47-28 triumph over Zion Christian, their first victory of the season following losses to Cornersville, Columbia Academy and Eagleville.
“They’re well coached,” Mt. Juliet Christian coach Jake Roberts said of the Hornets, who run a 4-4 defense and a wing-T offense. “They will throw some, but they really are a traditional wing-T team. They’ll run a lot of jets and rockets and counters. They run the buck sweep a lot.
“Just on film, they have some tough players… They play hard and they’re always in the right spot.”
Mt. Juliet Christian is 1-3 going into the game at Suey Field.
Week 5 games
Cookeville at LEBANON
Dickson County at WILSON CENTRAL
WATERTOWN at Cannon County
Franklin Road Academy at FRIENDSHIP CHRISTIAN, 7:30 p.m.
MT. JULIET at Centennial
Huntland at MT. JULIET CHRISTIAN
All kickoffs at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.