- Family Features
- Business Directory
- Gallery Of Homes
- Subscribe Now!
- Place A Classified Ad
- New! Digital e-Edition
Friendship's final trip to Robinson Stadium?
Oct 05, 2012 12:00 am
Beech at Wilson Central: 7-0 vs. 7-0
By ANDY REED
Half of Wilson Central's teams hit their fall break next week. But big business awaits first.
At Watertown, the undefeated Purple Tigers will put a 6-0 record on the line for the second straight season against rival Friendship Christian, which may be making its final trip to Robinson Stadium.
Construction has begun on a new Watertown High School, complete with an athletic complex which includes a football stadium, which is due to open in 2014.
Depending on how next year's schedule shakes out - among the factors are whether there will be any changes in the Region 4-A membership and, if not, will the teams elect to redraw the schedule. If the region remains as is and the coaches decide to keep the current schedule, the Purple Tigers would travel to Friendship's Pirtle Field next year with the Commanders going to the new WHS in '14.
But in 2012, the most-watched game on the Week 7 docket will probably be Beech at Wilson Central - 7-0 vs. 7-0 - featuring the Buccaneers' super back, Jalen Hurd.
Friendship, Central and Lebanon will be off next week.
Friendship Christian at Watertown
It was at this juncture a year ago the Purple Tigers hit the Bermuda Triangle portion of their schedule - Friendship, Gordonsville and Trousdale County - and never recovered.
But Watertown's spread offense has put up some spectacular numbers in recent weeks. The question is whether the Tigers can keep up their hot hands against much stouter defenses?
"I don't care who you are playing, you put up 60 points in one half [of a 66-34 win at Clay County last Friday], you're moving pretty good," Watertown coach Gavin Webster said.
"They're not undefeated for nothing," Friendship coach John McNeal said. "They have to be doing things right."
Friendship is 6-1 [4-1 in the region] with only a touchdown loss at Gordonsville marring the Commanders' record. A.J. Long is among the Midstate's top passers with 1,546 yards and 19 touchdowns on 59-of-97 passing. The junior also has a team-high 381 yards and seven scores on 44 carries.
"You've got to be leery of [Long]," Webster said. "You put too much pressure on him, he can run, and he's got a good arm.
"It's hard to find a weakness. They've got a good front. That's probably what makes them go more than anything. If you got good offensive linemen, you're probably going to have a good football team most of the time.
"Defensively, they fly around and make things happen."
Watertown junior quarterback Ty Jobe has been on fire in recent weeks, both running and passing. He's aided on the ground by running back Brannon Hill.
"They have good speed where they need it, good size," McNeal said of the Tigers. "They're well balanced."
Lebanon at Portland
Blue Devil coach Troy Crane got his first crack at calling the plays while working under Traye Aric at Wilson Central.
But while Crane is trying to get the hybrid wing T off the ground [without a quarterback] at Lebanon, Aric is overseeing a different offense at Portland - the single wing - and is overseeing a renaissance season with the Panthers at 3-4. They were on the verge of handing Wilson Central its first loss of the season last Friday before giving up the lead in the final two minutes of a 28-24 loss.
"They're a very physical football team," Crane said of the Panthers. "They execute their single wing and power-brand of football.
"It came down to that fourth-and-3 [last week]. If they would have gotten it, they would have won it. Portland's one of the most improved teams in our league. Their kids don't get rattled. They fight until and play until the very end. They gave Hendersonville fits [in losing 18-13]."
Aric runs a 50 defense, though it will change depending on the opposition.
"Coach Aric does a good job of doing multiple fronts based on what teams are doing," Crane said. "They get off blocks well and stay in their rush lanes.
"They force you to beat you on the perimeter and they're going to put nine people in the box and make you beat them with the pass."
That figures to be very problematic for the Blue Devils, whose quarterbacks [Bryce Suber and Christian Haffner] are very limited due to injuries. Senior wingback Ethan Copas has taken direct snaps out of the wildcat and has also thrown passes.
"He can dink and dunk," Crane said of Copas.
Other than the quarterback situation, Lebanon is back to full strength. The Blue Devils are healthy and four starters are back from serving a one-game suspension.
Crane is making one change, inserting sophomore John Huddleston at center.
Beech at Wilson Central
If Wildcats coach Brad Dedman looks like he hasn't gotten a lot of sleep since the weekend, it's because nightmares of Beech running back Jalen Hurd dancing through opposing defenses have been waltzing through his head.
Hurd, a junior who has drawn close to a dozen major-college scholarship offers, has 1,890 yards and 25 touchdowns with a mixture of size and speed. And that's not all.
"Just his ability to change direction," Dedman said. "He can go in a totally different direction at any time."
Mt. Juliet and Hendersonville have played Beech to within a touchdown in the last few weeks, giving Dedman and future opponents some insight into how to slow Hurd down.
"They pretty much surrounded him, kept him in check," Dedman said of the Golden Bears and Commandos. "[The Buccaneers] had to drive it downfield. He's going to get his yards; you just have to make him earn it."
Hurd and the Bucs also put pressure on opposing offense to keep pace - move the ball to keep him on the sideline and score to match whatever they do.
"We challenge our offense very much to get as many points as we can," Dedman said. "We have to manage the clock well, do what we do and go from there."
If Beech wins, the Bucs are probably in the clear for the District 9-AAA championship. Following next week's open date, Central has a trip to Station Camp in Week 9 and a Thursday Night Lights visit from Mt. Juliet on Oct. 25.
"It's a big game district-wise," Dedman said. "The winner is definitely in the driver's seat and will probably win it.
"We're just looking forward to the challenge."
Station Camp at Mt. Juliet
The Bison have been shooting up the District 9-AAA standings since an 0-3 start as they take aim at the Golden Bears, who are just below the top of the league at 3-1, 5-1 for the season.
"They've won the last four," Mt. Juliet coach Roger Perry said of the Bison. "They're very confident, playing well.
"The most talented team we've played to this point. They played tough with Beech early in the year."
Station Camp is coached by former Golden Bear player Shaun Hollinsworth.
"He's gotten away from the [wing-T] offense he's run for years," Perry said. "Now they're in multiple formations - spread, I. Got a good running back. got a Division-I wide receiver [Josh Malone] who's gotten several offers."
Quarterback Kyle Anderton [6-foot-4, 250 pounds] was compared to Pittsburgh Steelers signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger by Perry, echoing what Lebanon's Troy Crane said last week.
"Very, very talented young man," Perry said. "He's throwing the ball all over the field."
Station Camp is also strong up front, on both sides, the coach said.
"It's the best defense we've faced, also," Perry said said. "He's old-school when it comes to defense. He runs a 50 and they do that extremely well; two extremely good inside linebackers.
"A team we're very concerned about, especially with the injuries we've got."
Mt. Juliet has been remarkably healthy the last couple of years, but injuries are catching up with the Bears now, especially at inside linebacker. Three-year starter Josh Belhu has been out since the Beech loss with a dislocated hip. His neighbor, Brigham Powell, missed last week's game and is questionable this week with turf toe. On offense, backup fullback Kyle Mahler suffered a high ankle sprain at Gallatin last Friday and is out.
"It's the most injuries I've had this season," Perry said.
Aaron Academy at McClain Christian
Both teams are in the same boat - two straight losses following four season-opening victories - going into Saturday's matinee at Stroud Gwynn Field.
"They have a lot of tradition," McClain coach Seth Bass said of the Hendersonville-based Royals. "Our schedule is very back-loaded, I knew it when I made it out."
While eight-man football is wide open, Aaron plays an old-school I-formation offense.
"Their passing is basically emergency only," Bass said. "They're three yards and a cloud of dust.
"They're going to run it inside."
McClain runs a balanced offense, even in a 48-20 setback at St. Andrew's-Sewanee last Saturday. Brandon Fox completed 19 of 28 passes for 279 yards and Daniel Boyer hit an 18-yarder.
MCA will be a bit short-handed this week as wide receiver/defensive back Austyn Laude is out with a concussion and two others are on vacation. But Bass said the 11 remaining Bulldogs should be enough to go into battle with.
"I think our starting eight is better than theirs," Bass said.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952, ext. 17; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org