The transition into a new era of Watertown football will be complete this week when the Purple Tigers play their first full official game at the new Robinson Stadium.
The stadium was given a dry run with a dry run a couple of weeks ago with a jamboree. But four quarters of Friday night football brings out all the bells and whistles as the Purple Tigers invite Eagleville in for their stadium-warming party.
Watertown is seeking its first victory, as are Lebanon and Wilson Central. The Blue Devils will travel to Winchester to take on Franklin County while the Wildcats, at home for the second of a five-game season-opening home stand, will play host to LaVergne.
Mt. Juliet will seek its second win of the season when it takes its show on the road to face Antioch in a battle of the Bears.
Friendship Christian and Mt. Juliet Christian are off this week.
Lebanon at Franklin County
Both teams are seeking their first win of the season. While the Blue Devils dropped a 56-23 decision at Mt. Juliet, the Rebels went down 14-10 at Chattanooga Central.
“They should have won,” Lebanon coach Sam Harp said of the Rebels. “They fumbled the ball inside their 10 twice. If they don’t do that, they win that easy. But turnovers are part of it and you got to take care of the football.
“I think they’re a little stronger than they were last year.”
Franklin County runs a wing-T offense and a multiple defense.
“They run a lot of misdirection,” Harp said of Franklin County’s offense. “They run a lot of what I call scissors, which is a cross action in the backfield with a lot of motion. They try to hit the gaps on you and if we don’t shore up the way our defense played last week, we’re going to have a long night.
“Defensively, they get in a couple of different fronts. They get in an odd, it looks like an old-style 50 defense with a drop end. They got one very good athlete who will move to the wide side of the field, play a defensive end. If the ball’s in the middle of the field, he’s going to play to your strength, or what they consider your strength. They will also change up back into a 4-2 nickel, kind of like what we saw at Mt. Juliet.”
The Rebels are quicker than they are big, though Harp noted a sizable exception.
“They got a noseguard that’s outstanding who’s about a 350-pound bencher, or so they report,” Harp said. “He is very quick off the ball. He’s about 5-9 or -10, 200 pounds and very explosive and strong. Those two [including the defensive end] also flip over and play fullback and one of the wingbacks.”
Lebanon had a good statistical night offensively and on special teams at Mt. Juliet. But the Blue Devils’ lacked enough consistency for Harp’s taste, much of that was caused by second-half cramps which forced coaches to go deeper into the bench than they would have liked.
“We put 23 points up, you should be able to win, but we didn’t,” Harp said. “This is a team thing. I wasn’t very encouraged. We had a whole lot of mistakes on the offensive side of the ball. They just didn’t show up like they did on the defensive side. The mistakes we made on the defensive side of the ball resulted in touchdowns. The mistakes we made on the offensive side of the ball resulted in penalties, not getting personnel on the field as we needed it. At one particular phase, especially in the second half, we had seven offensive starters out of the game.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is every starter we had on the defensive side of the ball last week, it was the first time they ever started in a varsity football game. And we had six of those on offense. We had quite a few kids, this was their first time playing.
“We have to embrace the fact we’re not very athletic and we got to win with mental toughness, mental intelligence as far as limiting mistakes or not having any at all. If we don’t do those two things, we’re in trouble.”
Harp said the Blue Devils should be healthy this week pending the situation with offensive guard Mason Reeves, who has been dealing with a concussion this week. He also punted last week.
“Mason did a great job with the punting part of our game,” Harp said. “You don’t see many offensive linemen back punting.
“Logan White did a super job in his first varsity game kicking. Our kicking game has improved enormously because we’re able to line up and kick an extra point for a change. That doesn’t sound all that big, but if we had been able to do that last year, it would have been the difference in winning three more games.
“He did a great job with his onside kicks.”
LaVergne at Wilson Central
Both teams are also seeking their first wins of the season. The Wolverines lost to neighboring arch-rival Smyrna 28-7 while Central succumbed to state runner-up Hendersonville 45-7 on Midstate television.
“We got to fix us before we ever worry about LaVergne,” Wildcats coach Brad Dedman said. “We definitely got to fix our handoffs and our timing.
“We got to be sure we stay on our blocks, and on defense, we got to make sure we tackle well. We missed way too many tackles. We just got to get back to the basics.”
Dedman said the Wolverines are athletic.
“They are definitely athletic all the way across the board,” Dedman said. “They’re big up front. They run it very well and they throw it very well.”
Dedman specifically mentioned 6-foot-3 senior wide receiver Quinn Hernighan as a threat to watch.
“He can definitely go get the football,” Dedman said.
On the injury front, Dedman said lineman Gannon Starnes will be back from a leg injury. Sophomore running back Tyler Bowes is questionable with a shoulder injury.
Eagleville at Watertown
Both would like to hit the reset button following Week 0. The Eagles lost to Mt. Pleasant 25-3 while the Purple Tigers lost at Cascade in a game coach Gavin Webster indicated was closer than the 34-7 score indicates.
“Kids, as far as effort and how they played the game, couldn’t ask for any better,” Webster said. “We had too many mistakes that we got to get corrected that shot us in the foot. We were in the red zone five, maybe six, times. Had it down to the 5 twice and we came away with no points.
“You take away those things and we cut out those mistakes when we get down there and it’s backing us up, could have a let different outcome. The score’s not as bad.
“Those are things we got to take care of ourselves. We got to get better ourselves. It wasn’t anything the other team did. We were able to run the ball the other night.”
Quarterback Brady Swann sat out last week with an ankle sprain but is expected to play this week, Webster said. Linebacker Bosco Allocco is out with a concussion.
Eagleville runs a spread offense and a 50 defense, Webster said.
“[Coach Steve Carson] mixes it in,” Webster said. “He runs a little pro-I, a little spread. He’ll have a little shotgun and pistol.”
Mt. Juliet at Antioch
The Golden Bears are the only Wilson County team playing off a win as Friendship is off. Antioch is coming off a 20-0 loss to neighboring rival Cane Ridge.
Antioch was driving late in the first half and had reached the Cane Ridge 5-yard line where the Ravens ripped the ball away and took it in the opposite direction, eventually punching it in for a 14-0 lead instead of a 7-7 tie.
“That was a tough way for them to lose to their rival,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry said.
When Antioch’s offense is working well, the Bears are grinding out drives.
“They’re staying in their double-slot veer offense, which they’ve done for a while,” Perry said. “When they’re good at it, they’re eating a lot of clock and helping their defense.
“They have a senior quarterback who had a good game against us last year. He was pretty fearless in his command of the offense.”
And on defense?
“They look a lot like us with an even front,” Perry said. “They do a good job of mixing up their coverages. They have really good athletes. They do a good job on the perimeter keeping track of the football.
“They’re a returning playoff team. We had to battle to the end with them last year.”
Perry said his Bears are getting better from a health standpoint.
“We’ve got a few guys back who were missing in fall camp to provide depth,” Perry said. “Right now, literally, everybody counts.
“We were really decimated in our offensive line and this week we got a couple of our offensive linemen back.”