Week 2 is the traditional opening week for district or regional play, though most District 9-AAA teams got a league game in during Week 0.
Lebanon and Watertown will play host to teams who played in the BlueCross Bowl last season while Mt. Juliet tries to hurdle a barrier which tripped up the Golden Bears last year and sent them on a season-long downward spiral.
Hendersonville at Lebanon
The Commandos used a November roll to reach last year’s 6A BlueCross Bowl where they were manhandled by Maryville. They seem to have bounced back from that December loss with two easy victories over Wilson Central and Hunters Lane.
“Very deep at every position,” Lebanon coach Sam Harp said of the Commandos. “They’re getting it rolling right now. They got all the tools and everything to get back to the championship game again.
“We know we have a great challenge. I’m sure Hendersonville’s not worried about us at all. But we got to step up to the challenge and do the best we can do.”
Lebanon is 0-2 but the Blue Devils have averaged 28 points on offense in two games. But they’ve allowed 103 points on the other side of the ball.
“It’s still a work in progress, everything we’re doing,” Harp said. “When you’re on defense and we’re missing assignments, it can result in a touchdown pretty easily.
“We’ve been able to do a few things offensively. Hopefully we can get started and turn things around defensively.”
The defense will face a strong wing-T offense which has put 96 points on the board in two games, including 51 last week, while Hendersonville’s 5-2 defense has only allowed a Week 0 touchdown to Wilson Central. Then there’s the Commandos’ traditionally strong kicking game.
“In high school football, [kicking’s] a tremendous weapon to have because you’re looking at going 80 yards everytime,” Harp said. “That’s what Mt. Juliet did to us.”
That Mt. Juliet kicker, Hayes Foster, is coached by one of the long line of Hendersonville booters, former UT kicker James Wilhoit.
Harp said the Blue Devils are banged up and are down to two running backs as of early in the week.
“We don’t have much depth,” Harp said. “When we get guys banged up it puts us in a bind.”
This will be the 2014 debut game at Clifton Tribble Field/Danny Watkins Stadium. It will be the first action since the field was re-sodded in mid-summer after a hole had developed in the 2-year-old turf.
“It’s ready to go,” Harp said of the field. “Let’s hope the rain holds off.”
Portland at Wilson Central
These two teams may be glad to see each other as both are 0-2. This is the District 9-AAA opener for the Panthers while the Wildcats are 0-1 in the league.
“Both teams are looking for wins and district wins,” Wildcats coach Brad Dedman said. “District wins are going to be huge no matter who they come against.
Portland has changed its offense from the wishbone to a combination of spread and I formations.
“They’re big up front,” Dedman said of the Panthers. “They have some linemen who get off the ball pretty well. They have a couple of good running backs.”
Portland runs a 4-4 defense.
“They blitz from everywhere,” Dedman said.
Running back Dakivian Moore is questionable with a thigh bruise, but the rest o the Wildcats should be healthy, Dedman said.
Trousdale County at Watertown
The defending 2A state champion Yellow Jackets bounced back from a rare double-overtime loss to Macon County to defeat Sycamore last week despite the loss of senior running back Kenyon Harper to surgery.
“Harper’s out, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed them down,” Watertown coach Gavin Webster said of the Yellow Jackets. “They haven’t really changed anything from what they’ve been doing.
“You have to be sound and get lined up.”
Watertown is 0-2 coming off a good defensive outing in a 9-0 loss to Eagleville. But the Purple Tiger offense struggled with a run of botched snaps, fumbles, interceptions and penalties.
“That’s our biggest struggle,” Webster said. “It’s all mental for us. We’ve worked on them this week. Hopefully it’ll show up this Friday night.”
Webster said the Tigers are healthy this week.
Friendship Christian at King’s Academy
The Commanders are coming off an open date following their season-opening win at Memphis’ Harding Academy. That freed up coach John McNeal to see King’s’ 49-14 win over Hancock County in Seymour which put the Lions at 2-0 for the season going into the East-Middle District 1-A opener for both teams.
“Their skill guys are as good as we’ll see,” McNeal said of the Lions, who run the spread. “They have a couple of new kids in from last year. What I was impressed with was the speed. Their team speed is as good as we’ll see.
“Every wideout can go. It’s not like it’s you got two to worry about and the other two are possession receivers. They all can run.”
King’s runs a 5-3 defense.
“They just kind of gamble,” McNeal said. “[They] blitz everybody, cause havoc on that side.”
Station Camp at Mt. Juliet
For the second straight season, the Golden Bears are 2-0 entering this game. But they don’t’ want history to repeat itself as Mt. Juliet lost its quarterback for the season and was routed by the Bison, setting the stage for a 2-6 finish to the season.
“Nolan [Chowbay], on the fifth play from scrimmage, broke his collarbone,” Mt. Juliet coach Trey Perry recalled, noting a stretch in which Station Camp scored four touchdowns in short order with help from the Golden Bears had some special teams miscues. “We didn’t show the signs of a mature football team. They scored 28 points in about a four- or five-minute stretch right there.”
Station Camp lost to Beech in Week 0 before an open date last week.
“Very experienced, physical football team,” Perry said of the Bison. “Obvisously, their identity is a little different without [UT freshman receiver] Josh Malone.
“But they still have a [tailback/linebacker Tre] Malone, and he’s physical.”
They also have 6-foot-4 veteran quarterback Kyle Anderton back.
“You can tell Kyle’s a pretty selfless guy,” Perry said. “He’s actually playing some defensive end this year. It’s not just about the position for him. It’s about winning games.”
For the Bears to avoid repeating the path set in 2013, they will need to take the other fork in the road this week.
“It’s important,” Perry said. “We’ve talked about defending our home turf and winning all our District 9-AAA games.
“We’ve done a good job physically. Now it’s a matter mentally making sure we are lined up right and have our assignments down.’
Perry said more Bears are returning from the injured list.
“We got a majority of our starters in place,” he said. “We have a couple of guys back who can help us in our depth.”
Mt. Juliet Christian at Middle Tennessee Christian
The Cougars are off to a flying 2-0 start after outscoring Cannon County and Zion Christian 80-13.
“They’re still a spread attack,” Mt. Juliet Christian coach Dan Davis said of the Cougars. “They want to spread you across the field, literally make you defend all 53 [yards].”
Quarterback Justin Winn triggers the attack.
“He’s the one that stirs the pot,” Davis said of Winn. “They’re definitely relying on speed to win.”
Davis said MTCS runs what he called an over defense with a 3-4 front which looks like four down linemen.
“They want to bring as much heat as they can to get you to cough it up,” Davis said.
The Saints had an open date to hit the reset button following a Week 0 loss.
“The biggest thing was fixing mistakes,” Davis said. “With 13 freshmen, we have people who have to do their assignments. Half my team finally saw what Friday nights are all about.
“We had a chance to correct our mistakes and get ready to rock and roll Friday night.”
Davis said the Saints are healthy.