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FCS, Mt. Juliet in Sweet 16 party
Nov 09, 2012 12:00 am
By Andy Reed
It's Sweet 16 time in the high school playoffs. But instead of blowing out candles on a birthday cake, teams will be looking to extinguish the seasons of their opponents.
After a bye last week, Friendship Christian will play its first-ever playoff game as a defending state champion as the Commanders host Cascade at Pirtle Field.
Mt. Juliet, which went to the Class 6A semifinals last year, will travel to Dickson County in a battle of 10-1 teams in which the squad which gets its 11th triumph will move into the quarterfinals.
Cascade at Friendship Christian
The Champions used the rumbling running of Creed Rose to oust Watertown 24-21 last Friday at the Purple Tigers' Robinson Stadium. Rose scored twice and ran for 144 yards on 23 carries despite missing most of the second half with a knee injury.
"I've talked to their coach [Kenny Parker]," Commander coach John McNeal said. [Rose's] got a meniscus tear which every once in a while catches in that joint and it's kind of hard to move. It either lodges or dislodges.
"He's what makes them go offensively, or who they look to. And then they come off of that and they were able to throw the ball down and got some receivers they like getting out to in the flats."
After a fast start offensively by both teams, Watertown committed three turnovers and Rose went out, turning the game into a defensive slugfest in the second half as the Champions emerged with a 7-4 record.
"There was some not converting on certain situations in the red zone," McNeal said. "They both had their chances to win. It was one of those games going in, we felt that we would be playing Watertown. But that's part of the reason you play the games.
"Cascade took some opportunities and held on at the end to, what to me, was an upset."
The Commanders come in 9-1 and, after earning a week off, are raring to go, according to their coach.
"We are ready," McNeal said. "The week wasn't bad. We were able to work on a lot of things. But the kids do get a little anxious to get back to playing.
"And that's the thing about football. You got Monday through Thursday to get ready on the field and to play on Friday, and that happens every week. That one week off, it helps and it hurts. But we feel like it was a good week for us and right now we are healthy."
Mt. Juliet at Dickson County
If one can ignore the uniforms, the Golden Bears and Cougars appear to be mirror images of each other on offense and special teams. Both run the wing-T on offense.
"Just a very sound, fundamental football team," Mt. Juliet coach Roger Perry said of the Cougars. "I compare them to our team. They have a fullback like Contrez [McCathern] and a halfback like [Caleb] Hopkins. Very strong fullback, good speed. Sizewise, he's very Contrez-like."
Junior Otis Gerron has 1,551 yards and 23 touchdowns on 170 carries for Dickson County while quarterback Luke Humphreys has hit 38 of 77 passes for 680 yards and nine scores.
"They're a lot like us," Perry said. "They depend a lot on the ground game, but they will throw it when they need to.
"They got an outstanding kicker, also [Mitch Mersman]."
Dickson County is different on defense with a 4-3.
"They tackle well," Perry said. "They swarm to the football and do a very good job on defense."
Both teams' lone losses have come to high-caliber competition. Mt. Juliet fell to Class A top-ranked Beech while Dickson was defeated by defending 5A champion Henry County.
Perry said the Bears are healthy, "Better than we've been.
"We're thankful to be here and hope we can take another step."
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952, ext. 17; or by email at email@example.com