LAST WEEK: 4-0
2021 RECORD: 62-20
The TSSAA Playoffs continue in Sumner County this week as the third round of the kicks off Friday night.
Beech disposed of Clarksville, Hendersonville took care of Gallatin, White House defeated Smith County, and Pope Prep made school history of advancing to the third weekend.
Headlining this week’s slate of games is Beech-Hendersonville, East Nashville vs. White House, and Pope Prep at McCallie.
Hendersonville-Beech and Pope Prep-McCallie are rematches from earlier this season, while White House takes on East Nashville for the first time in program history, according to coacht.com.
So, who do I have moving on to Round 4? Let’s dive in.
Beech (9-3, 4-1) at Hendersonville (9-3, 4-1)
Bucs-Commandos Part II.
Beech makes the quick trip across town to take on familiar foe Hendersonville High School in the Class 6A Quarterfinal Round.
Easily the two best public schools in the county, Beech-Hendersonville proves to make the price of admission and outside elements worth it.
The Commandos are talented at playmaker positions, but none bigger than Torin Baker and Ellis Ellis. The dynamic duo compliments each other perfectly, and with a quarterback like Luke Manning under center, you know the offense will be well-executed.
HHS has a ton of experience up front on both sides of the ball, and winning the line of scrimmage will work in the Commandos’ favor if they bring the right attitude.
The Commandos should win this football game on paper, but football games aren’t played on paper; they are played on grass.
The Buccaneers have their own set of playmakers at their disposal. Andrew Paige, Jackson Long, Errin Jolley all have over 400 yards receiving and 20 catches this year. Quarterback Jackson Ford has taken control under center, and with a big, strong arm, it’s very much possible you see a Beech receiver streaking down the sideline for a splash play.
How Beech can run the football effectively will be a key in this contest, and if they can get something going on the ground, I think they have an excellent chance to win the game.
That said, I’ve rolled with the Commandos all season long, and I’m not jumping off the bandwagon this week. Friday night turns into an instant classic.
HENDERSONVILLE 24, BEECH 21
Pope Prep (8-4, 2-3) at McCallie (10-0, 5-0)
Congratulations to Pope Prep for making school history last week, beating Brentwood Academy to advance to the DII-AAA Semifinals for the first time in school history.
The win was also their first over the Eagles in school history.
Their reward? A trip to Chattanooga to take on the best team in the state in the McCallie.
This season, these two teams met on October 29, with McCallie leaving Hendersonville with a sizable victory, but even still, Pope Prep is focusing on the positives of that game as they prepare for their biggest challenge of the season.
The first thing I’m looking at when picking this game is not only what McCallie can do on offense, but what has Pope Prep done on defense against the top-tier competition?
Unfortunately for the Knights, they have struggled defensively against top-level competition, and that is precisely what McCallie will present Friday night again.
Only once have the Blue Tornados scored less than 30 points this season while scoring 40+ four times and 50+ twice.
McCallie, the defending state champion for a reason, will be too much for Pope Prep to handle Friday night.
That said, having Pope Prep one win away from a state championship game appearance is remarkable in every way for head coach Justin Geisinger, and while his program has undoubtedly grown this last decade, they still have a ways to go to get to the top.
McCallie 49, POPE PREP 24
White House (11-1, 6-0) at East Nashville (8-4, 4-0)
Winners of 11 straight, White House, enters the Class 3A Quarterfinal Round as one of the biggest underdogs as they make the trip to East Nashville.
Many are counting out the Blue Devils for this contest, saying they don’t have the athletes to match up against a talented East Nashville team, but I’m not ready to go that far.
The Blue Devils are led offensively by two 1,000 yard rushers in Ranen Blackburn and Reece McAfee, so East Nashville’s defense will need to be sound.
Defensively, however, is where White House will be tested.
The Eagles are soaring these last five weeks, scoring 35 points per game, including back-to-back weeks of 40+.
Of their playmakers, Amarion Ford stole the show over Waverly, rushing for 296 yards and four scores.
I think White House has a shot in this contest, but I don’t think they have enough to overcome a potent offense like East Nashville.
EAST NASHVILLE 42, WHITE HOUSE 17