The first two rounds of the 2015 TSSAA high school football playoffs have not been good to defending state champions as four have already been sent home to pack up their equipment and head into the offseason. Last week in the first round, Knoxville Webb (5-5), the three time defending Division II-A state champion was upset 7-6 by USJ and will not get the chance to win a fourth consecutive title.
The Division II-A runner up from a season ago, BGA (6-4) also saw their season end early as well as Harding Academy beat them 41-16. Harding Academy and USJ both won last week as well and are in the semifinals along with St. George’s and undefeated Northpoint Christian.
But last Friday in the second round saw three more defending state champions go down as Union City (1A) saw their 38 game winning streak disappear as 2A defending state champion Peabody beat them 28-24 after making a huge goal line stand. Knoxville Catholic turned back three time 4A defending state champion Fulton 28-25 and Morristown West dismantled 5A defending champion Knoxville West.
•Peabody 28, Union City 24– The Golden Tide (10-2) got 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Kendrick Malone and the defense made to late game stops to beat Union City (11-1) for the first time in four tries.
“Friday night’s win was huge for our players, our program, and our community. Union City has emerged as a true powerhouse,” first year Peabody head coach Shane Jacobs said. “They have a top notch program with a top notch coaching staff. So, obviously we are very fortunate to find a way to get a win. I was proud of the effort and grit with which we played. Union City will rebound from this and be great again next year.”
Now the seventh ranked Golden Tide will turn their attention to a Quarterfinal round battle with region foe Dresden (11-1) who shut out Peabody 39-0 in week eight.
“Our focus now is on a team that throttled us earlier in the year. Football is all about match ups, so our win last week has no bearing on the game this Friday,” Jacobs said. “Dresden is solid in all phases of the game and they have the best player in 1A. Defending Dresden is a whole different animal versus last week.”
The post game celebration in the Peabody got a little out of hand and Jacobs did the classy thing by writing a letter of apology to the Peabody community and to the Union City coaching staff, the letter is below courtesy of the Jackson Sun.
•Knoxville Catholic 28, Fulton 25– The Fighting Irish raced out to a quick 26-0 lead in the first quarter but then had to hold off the Falcons to get revenge for defeats at the hands of Fulton the last two postseasons.
Catholic got off to a fast start as sophomore Josh Brown scored twice both from 15 yards out while junior quarterback Chase Cunningham connected with USC commitment Amari Rodgers from 87 yards out and Chase Kuerschen from 32 yards out.
“It was a great win for our program over an outstanding Fulton team. it was a hard fought physical game, but for now the challenge is to regroup and focus for Greeneville,” Catholic head coach Steve Matthews said.
•Morristown West 47, Knoxville West 7- Morristown West got a great rushing game from Chattanooga commitment DeAndre Delaney (268 yards, two touchdowns) to run away from Knoxville West. As good as the Trojans were on offense (504 total yards), the Morristown West defense was even better as they held the Rebels to only 61 total yards.
“”It was a big win for our football program. Knox West has dominated 5A football in East Tennessee the past 4 or 5 years. We have a lot of respect for their football program. I was really proud of the way our kids prepared last week. It was our best week of practice all year,” Morristown West head coach Lamar Brown said.
The three defending state champions weren’t the only ranked teams to head to the off season as 22 teams that were ranked in the final AP Top 10 poll also got beat. Three teams that were previously undefeated fell as Boyd Buchanan, Franklin Road Academy and Stone Memorial lost , below is the full list.
Tyner 13, Boyd Buchanan 7 (No. 1 in 2A)
East Hamilton 28, Stone Memorial 16 (No. 5 in 4A)
USJ 24, FRA 17 (No. 5 in Division II)
Independence 38 (No. 1 in 5A), Hendersonville 7 (No. 2)
Ooltewah 26 (No. 8 in 5A), Oak Ridge 17 (No. 3)
Trinity Christian 35, Adamsville 21 (No. 3 in 2A)
Rhea County 40, Farragut 34 (No. 4 in 5A)
CAK 48 (No. 4 in 3A), Elizabethton 19 (No. 5)
Marion County 38 (No. 2 in 2A), Forrest 10 (No. 5)
Nashville Christian 34 (No. 3 in 1A), Huntingdon 7 (No. 5)
Memphis East 40 (No. 3 in 4A), Hardin County 16 (No. 6)
Baylor 31 (No. 3 in Division II), MUS 10 (No. 6)
Lexington 30, Jackson North side 6 (No. 7 in 4A)
Smyrna 42 (No. 9 in 6A), Science Hill 22 (No. 7)
Greeneville 27 (No. 2 in 4A), Knoxville Central 17 (No. 8)
Grace Christian Academy 35, Rockwood 14 (No. 8 in 2A)
Hampton 48 (No. 4 in 2A), Austin East 38 (No. 9)
Dresden 54 (No. 9 in 2A), Carver 8 (No. 9)
MBA 38 (No. 2 in Division II), McCallie 10 (No. 9)
Notre Dame 45 (No. 7 in 3A), Upperman 6 (No. 9)
Alcoa 35 (No. 1 in 3A), Pigeon Forge 14 (No. 10)
Christian Brothers 30 (No. 4 in Division II), Ensworth 17 (No. 10)
14 of the 28 Quarterfinal games are region rematches from the regular season and here’s a closer look at each game.
Harriman (9-3) at Greenback (10-2)
Winning Streaks- Harriman- 3, Greenback- 6
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Greenback 49-28 in week nine
Playoff Scoring- Harriman- 50.0 PPG, 17.0 Points allowed; Greenback 24.5 PPG, 14.0 PA
Peabody (10-2) at Dresden (11-1)
Winning Streaks- Peabody- 5, Dresden- 4
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Dresden 39-0 in week seven
Playoff Scoring- Peabody- 38.0 PPG, 21.0 PA; Dresden- 59.0 PPG, 7.0 PA
Tyner (9-3) at Marion County (11-1)
Winning Streaks- Tyner- 6, Marion County- 6
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Marion County 33-20 in week seven
Playoff Scoring- Tyner 23.5 PPG, 7.0 PA; Marion County 40.0 PPG, 5.0 PA
Trinity Christian (7-5) at McKenzie (8-4)
Winning Streaks- Trinity Christian- 5, McKenzie- 4
Who Won the Regular Season Game- McKenzie 44-24 in week seven
Playoff Scoring- Trinity Christian- 44.0 PPG, 20.5 PA; McKenzie- 44.0 PPG, 13.5 PA
CAK (11-1) at Alcoa (11-1)
Winning Streaks- CAK- 2, Alcoa- 8
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Alcoa 33-7 in week 11
Playoff Scoring- CAK- 42.5, 16.5 PA; Alcoa- 36.5 PPG, 10.5 PA
Notre Dame (9-3) at East Ridge (12-0)
Winning Streaks- Notre Dame-5, East Ridge-13
Who Won the Regular Season Game- East Ridge 14-9 in week seven
Playoff Scoring- Notre Dame- 41.5 PPG, 3.0 PA; East Ridge- 31.5 PPG, 14.0 PA
White House Heritage (9-3) at CPA (11-1)
Winning Streaks- White House Heritage-5, CPA- 7
Who Won the Regular Season Game- CPA 35-28 in week three
Playoff Scoring- White House Heritage- 21.0 PPG, 10.0 PA; CPA- 36.0 PPG, 6.0 PA
Milan (9-3) at Liberty (12-0)
Winning Streaks- Milan- 8, Liberty- 12
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Liberty 30-8 in week three
Playoff Scoring- Milan- 22.5 PPG, 19.0 PA; Liberty- 34.0 PPG, 0.0 PA
Springfield (9-3) at Pearl Cohn (8-4)
Winning Streaks- Springfield- 2, Pearl Cohn- 6
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Pearl Cohn 46-7 in week 11
Playoff Scoring- Springfield- 41.5 PPG, 16.5 PA; Pearl Cohn- 34.0 PPG, 9.5 PA
Morristown West (10-2) at Sevier County (10-2)
Winning Streaks- Morristown West- 3, Sevier County- 6
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Sevier County 35-21 in week nine
Playoff Scoring- Morristown West- 49.5 PPG, 7.0 PA; Sevier County- 43.0 PPG, 20.0 PA
Rhea County (9-3) at Ooltewah (10-2)
Winning Streaks- Rhea County- 6, Ooltewah- 3
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Ooltewah 16-0 in week five
Playoff Scoring- Rhea County- 37.5 PPG, 17.0 PA; Ooltewah- 33.0 PPG, 19.0 PA
Henry County (10-2) at Centennial (11-1)
Winning Streaks- Henry County- 2, Centennial- 10
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Centennial 28-20 in week 11
Playoff Scoring- Henry County- 39.5 PPG, 17.0 PA; Centennial- 22.5 PPG, 10.5 PA
Smyrna (9-3) at Oakland (11-1)
Winning Streaks- Smyrna- 2, Oakland- 11
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Oakland 20-7 in week 11
Playoff Scoring- Smyrna- 43.0 PPG, 24.5 PA; Oakland- 51.5 PPG, 7.0 PA
Baylor (9-2) at Brentwood Academy (10-1)
Winning Streaks- Baylor- 2, Brentwood Academy- 9
Who Won the Regular Season Game- Brentwood Academy 42-30 in week five
Playoff Scoring- Baylor- 31.0 PPG, 12.0 PA; Brentwood Academy 45.5 PPG, 17.5 PA
QUARTERFINAL PLAYERS TO WATCH
In the spirit of the Tennessee Titans and the TSSAA releasing their Mr. Football Finalists list on Monday, here’s a look at the Top 12 players across the state regardless of classification in alphabetical order.
You can view the complete list of Mr. Football Finalists here:
Andrew Bunch, Independence QB
Vitals- 6-1, 190, Senior
2015 Stats- Passed for 2,407 yards and 29 touchdowns on 147 of 222 passing.
Analysis- Bunch missed a month of the season with an injury but still passed for 2,407 yards and 29 touchdowns in only eight games which is an average of 300.9 passing per game.
Ty Chandler, MBA RB
Vitals- 5-11, 170, Junior
2015 Stats- Rushed for 2,006 yards and scored 27 touchdowns and is a Division II-AA Mr. Football Back Finalist
Analysis- The junior tail back for the Big Red runs hard and makes it tough on the opposition to tackle him. He had become the focal point of the MBA offense as the Big Red looks for their second straight Division II-AA title.
Desmond Dabbs, Greeneville RB
Vitals- 5-8, 160, Senior
2015 Stats- Rushed for 2,273 yards and 30 touchdowns and was a Class 4A Mr. Football Back Semifinalist
Analysis- Dabbs has been the main focus of the Greene Devils run heavy offense and has responded with a big season. Dabbs is a burner who uses his speed to outrun the defenses.
DeAndre Delaney, Morristown West RB
Vitals- 6-2, 195, Senior committed to Chattanooga
2015 Stats- Rushed for 1,752 yards and scored 22 touchdowns
Analysis- Delaney is a big back that doesn’t shy away from contact but also has good speed to run away from defenders as well. Chattanooga was very aggressive with Delaney in his recruitment and he could be a big piece in their 2016 class.
Taeler Dowdy, Blackman RB
Vitals- 6-1, 185, Senior
2015 Stats- Rushed for 2,015 yards and has scored 28 touchdowns
Analysis- Give Dowdy credit as he patiently waited his turn as the Blaze feature back following such great backs as Itavius Mathers and Charlie Davidson. Dowdy has gotten stronger as the season has went on which is a great sign for the Blaze.
Andrew Goldsmith, Trinity Christian QB/RB
Vitals- 6-0, 210, Senior
2015 Stats- Rushed for 3,023 yards and scored 31 touchdowns while passing for another 648 yards and 12 more touchdowns and is a Class 2A Mr. Football Back Finalist
Analysis- Goldsmith was moved from running back to quarterback in week five after Trinity started the year 0-4 and the Lions have responded in a big way winning seven of eight games. Since the position change, Goldsmith has rushed for 2,198 yards and 24 touchdowns (274.8 average) but has kicked it up a notch in the last four games rushing for 1,448 yards (362.0 yards and 12 touchdowns).
Jerry Lunsford, Hampton RB
Vitals- 5-10, 180, Senior
2015 Stats- Rushed for 1,535 yards and scored 26 touchdowns
Analysis- Lunsford is the nephew of head coach Mike Lunsford and he plays the game like a throwback player of previous decades. He along with fellow running back Adam McClain lead the Hampton power I offense.
Dillon Mitchell, White Station WR
Vitals- 6-1, 200, Senior committed to Oregon
2015 Stats- Has accounted for 2,218 total yards and 41 touchdowns (72 catches, 1,339 yards; 879 rushing yards), Class 6A Mr. Football Back Finalist
Analysis- Mitchell is the most exciting offensive player in the state and is a threat to score every time he touches the football. He does it all for the Spartans and has scored touchdowns five different ways this year (rushing, receiving, interception, punt and kick return).
Traneil Moore, East Ridge RB
Vitals- 6-0, 190, Junior
2015 Stats- Rushed for 2,197 yards and 27 touchdowns
Analysis- East Ridge head coach Tracy Malone thought Moore would be a very good player this year but he has exceeded expectations this year. Moore is a breakaway back that can gain the tough yards through contact and run away from you when he has to and gas gotten stronger as the season has went on.
Preston Rice, Wayne County QB
Vitals- 6-2, 225, Junior
2015 Stats- Accounted for 2,534 total yards and 37 touchdowns (1,964 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, 570 rushing, six touchdowns), 1A Mr. Football Back Finalist
Analysis- Rice is your typical coaches son, very heady and knows how to get out of trouble instinctively and make plays for his team. The third son of head coach Rick Rice, Preston may be even better then big brothers Tyler and Austin who both played quarterback as well.
JaCoby Stevens, Oakland DB/WR
Vitals- 6-3, 195, Junior committed to LSU
2015 Stats- Recorded 73 tackles, five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, while catching 30 passes for 723 yards and 13 touchdowns on offense, 6A Mr. Football Back Finalist.
Analysis- Like Mitchell, Stevens is an athlete that can make plays all over the field and impact both offense and defense and Oakland coach Kevin Creasy lines him up all over the field. Stevens has scored on both offense and defense scoring on wildcat runs and catches as well as returning a fumble and interception as well.
Dresser Winn, Dresden QB
Vitals- 6-3, 195, Junior
2015 Stats- Accounted for 3,124 total yards and 39 touchdowns (2,521 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, 603 rushing yards, six touchdowns, 1A Mr. Football Back Finalist
Analysis- Winn is a talented junior quarterback that has made a huge difference for the Lions since transferring back to Dresden this off season after spending last year at Briarcrest. He is the piece of the puzzle that second year coach Derek Rang missed last season.
Kylan Watkins, RB, Whitehaven- Rushed for 361 yards and three touchdowns in a 39-21 win over Whitehaven.
Dylan Yates, RB, Dresden- Rushed for 218 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 54-18 win over Carver.
Traneil Moore, RB, East Ridge- Rushed for 251 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 28-0 win over Chattanooga Christian.
Desmond Dabbs, RB, Greeneville- Rushed for 273 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 27-17 win over Knoxville Central.
DeAndre Delaney, RB, Morristown West- Ran for 268 yards and scored twice in a 47-7 win over Knoxville West.
Mason Stephenson, RB, Rhea County- Rushed for 295 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 40-34 win over Farragut.
Taeler Dowdy, RB, Blackman- Ran for a 288 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 56-28 win over Siegel.
Ty Chandler, RB, MBA- Rushed for 234 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 38-10 win over McCallie.
Andrew Bunch, QB, Independence- Passed for 332 yards and four total touchdowns in a 38-7 win over Hendersonville.
Email Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at Examine_Stew