With schools finishing their fall break this week, Wilson County’s four public high school football teams are also taking some time off before their final two games of the season.
That leaves Friendship Christian’s home contest against Donelson Christian as literally the only game in town. But what a game it should be as the Wildcats and Commanders battle for a probable first-round home playoff game in Division II-A.
Mt. Juliet Christian, which is taking only this week off from classes, will try to build a winning streak when the Saints travel to Seymour in east Tennessee to take on King’s Academy tonight.
Donelson Christian at Friendship Christian.
The Wildcats and Commanders are both 2-1 in the East-Middle District 1-A, trailing undefeated Knoxville Webb, which beat both teams. In face, Webb is DCA’s only loss [against six wins] and one of two setbacks for Friendship [with five victories].
In a season of change for Friendship, DCA is a constant, the oldest rival on this year’s slates as the schools, who both draw students from the Mt. Juliet area, have been on and off each other’s schedules since the 1970s. When they have met the games have often been thrilling.
“We’ve gone down to the wire with them a bunch of times,” longtime Commander coach John McNeal said of the Wildcats, who have been coached by Dennis Goodwin for many years. “Threw a touchdown on them with no time to win.
“There was another time at our place, we were kicking a field goal to force overtime.”
DCA runs a pro-style offense out of the I and a 40 defense. Senior Will Reddick is the Wildcats’ quarterback.
“[Reddick] can throw, has good receivers,” McNeal said. “I wouldn’t call them overly big. They’re probably like us. In some spots they have good size and in some spots they have good speed.”
McNeal said the Commanders were healthy as of Tuesday.
Mt. Juliet Christian at King’s Academy
The Saints are looking for their first East-Middle District 1-A win of the season against a Lions team with one victory, over Ezell-Harding. But MJCA is coming off a 41-0 win over Pickett County which has the visitors feeling good about themselves.
“We played really well last Friday,” said Mt. Juliet Christian coach Jake Roberts, whose Saints are 2-6. “It was a great game for us. Our boys played hard, played well. Scoring that many points and shutting them down gives us a lot of confidence going into these last three games. It’s a winnable game. We match up well.
“Sixty percent chance of rain, it’s a good thing for all of us if that happens.”
Roberts said King’s runs a spread offense with zone read and screen passes as the Lions [3-4] try to spread the defense to take pressure off the offensive line.
“From what I’ve seen, the line is where they are weakest,” Roberts said. “They have good skill players.”
One of those skill players is junior wide receiver Ridge Palmer.
“They like to get him the ball in space and give him a good running lane,” Roberts said of Palmer.
Mt. Juliet Christian is healthy and will get senior running back/linebacker Elliot Lee from a one-game suspension served following his ejection from the game against Friendship Christian two weeks ago.
“If all of our guys do their job and keep their heads in the game, it ought to be a good night,” Roberts said.