Let's have some fun in 2017. Each week I will provide a little insight for each team and the upcoming Friday night games, making predictions on whether I think teams will win or lose their matchup.
I'm hopeful I can make our paper proud by picking correctly each week, but rest assured, even if I go "0-for," I will bounce back the next week and provide you with the same quality insight as previous weeks.
So, football fans, here we are; officially ready for the 2017 season. Best of luck to all our Sumner County teams. Now, bring home that gold football.
Beech at Wilson Central
The Buccaneers come into their Week 1 matchup against Wilson Central ready for business. Beech has enjoyed a successful preseason and looks to continue that momentum as they head to Lebanon Friday night.
The Wildcats were picked to finish third in Region 4-6A after losing most of their key playmakers to graduation this past year - returning just six regular starters from 2016, with five coming on defense.
The Bucs have been without Chaz Williamson for most of the preseason, but Beech has not missed a beat, as incoming senior Kaemon Dunlap has picked up the slack in the backfield. The offensive line proved they can get the job done when called upon after their most recent victory in Mt. Juliet.
Defensively, the Bucs will be sound and likely hang their hat this season. I think the matchups favor Beech in this Week 1 tilt and that's just one reason I'm going with the visiting Buccaneers. The orange and blue have a great chance at making 2017 memorable and I believe that journey starts Friday night.
Wilson Central 17
Hendersonville at Blackman
How'd you like to open your season on the road to a prohibited favorite in Class 6A? Well, that is exactly what head coach Bruce Hatfield and the Hendersonville Commandos will do Friday night when they travel to Murfreesboro to take on Blackman High School.
Picked to finish first in Region 3-6A, the Blaze boast a slew of playmakers that include Master Teague and Trey Knox. Both athletes will play at the high Division I level.
The Commandos will be without their top weapon in Anthony Hughes, as the senior continues to nurse a knee injury. Hughes will be back for Week 2 action against Centennial, but that doesn't help the black and gold in Week 1.
Even with Hughes, I just don't see Hendersonville giving the Blaze too much resistance. Hatfield's team will play hard but I believe after 48 minutes the better team will rise to the top; but hey, that's why you play the game, right?
Still, as much as I want to go with the hometown Commandos I just don't think they have enough to compete against 6A's elite.
JPII at Whites Creek
The Knights open the 2017 season with a non-region foe in the Whites Creek Cobras. JPII will travel just North of Nashville Friday night for their Week 1 tilt, looking to get off on a strong foot.
The Cobras were picked to finish last in Region 5-3A, but that doesn't mean Whites Creek has mailed it in already. JPII will be in for a battle Friday night and they must contain the athletes that roam the Cobra sideline. Keeping technique and making sure they gang tackle; the Knights will need to play a very good ball game if they want to come home 1-0.
This offseason has been a productive one for head coach Justin Geisinger and his crew. Quarterback Ben Nixon looks to lead the offense and has plenty of weapons at his disposal who are looking to make a name for themselves. A win Friday night would go a long way in building confidence in a Knights roster that is relatively young.
There is no way around it, Whites Creek has more athletes than JPII, and I believe that will be the difference maker in the ball game. I do think this football game is close and will go into the fourth quarter anyone's ball game. However, I expect Whites Creek to bust a few long touchdown plays on the outside and that will be the difference in the ball game.
Whites Creek 28
Station Camp at Antioch
The Bison were put into a peculiar situation earlier this offseason following the transfers of Kaemon Dunlap and Sirtavious Perry. Both explosive two-way playmakers, the void left has been picked up from other players such as Max Barnett, Devin Thompson, and Nathan Crouch, among others.
At the end of the day, head coach Shaun Hollinsworth likes where his team is at and likes where they are headed.
In Week 1, they are headed to Antioch to take on a rebuilding Bears program who will break in their third head coach in as many seasons. Early advantage, Station Camp. The Bison are tired of hearing about how they weren't good enough to keep certain players and are ready to attack this 2017 season with great pride. I believe Hollinsworth will have his team prepped and ready for battle Friday night.
After naming Barnett starting quarterback, the offense has continued to gain momentum and confidence. That upward trajectory showed in their last preseason scrimmage with a shutout victory over Ft. Campbell. Antioch wants to rebound off a 3-8 season but that rebuild doesn't start this week. I like the Bison big in this one as they get prepared to head into week's one rivalry tilt against Gallatin.
Station Camp 35