Let The 2017 TSSAA Prep Football Playoffs Begin

Hamilton County Team Hasn't Won Title Since 2010

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - by Larry Fleming
The Notre Dame student section cheer on their Irish football team two weeks ago as they played host to CCS.  The Irish fans will be at home again Friday night for a first round playoff game.
The Notre Dame student section cheer on their Irish football team two weeks ago as they played host to CCS. The Irish fans will be at home again Friday night for a first round playoff game.
- photo by Greg Davick

The 2017 TSSAA football playoffs begin Friday night in nine classifications and teams start their drives to berths in the championship games on Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.

Hamilton County hasn’t produced a state champion since 2010 when Signal Mountain walloped Trinity Christian, 56-28, to win the Class 2A title.

Baylor had back-to-back runner-up finishes, losing to Ensworth 28-21 (2010) and 48-10 (2011), respectively.

OK, those are playoff appetizer. Let’s break it down by classes:

Class 1A

Lookout Valley (5-5)

The Yellow Jackets appeared in the playoffs in 2011 and 2012 and lost first-round games to Coalfield and Copper Basin by a combined 106-33. They went 8-4 in 2011, the team’s last winning season.

From 2012 to this season, Lookout Valley is 14-52, but it’s in the playoffs. A lot of teams with better records can’t say that.

Class 2A

Tyner Academy (8-2)

Tyner has been a perennial championship contender since coach Wayne Turner took over the Rams reins. The Rams have been to the postseason 21 of the past 23 years, missing only in 2010 and 2014.

Turner’s Troopers reached the championship game in 1996 and lost to Memphis Melrose, 32-12. The following year, the Rams won their only state title by beating Union City, 13-10. Their best playoff run since came in 2005 when Tyner lost to Alcoa, 31-14.

Class 3A

Red Bank (8-2)

The Lions are frequent postseason competitors and won a Class 5A title by beating Riverdale, 27-7, in 2000. They lost to Gallatin, 42-13, in the 1978 championship game and have a 25-26 playoff record dating to 1971.

Since 2009 when Red Bank suffered a tough 14-13 loss to Greeneville in the Class 4A quarterfinals, it has not gotten past the second round. East Ridge ousted the Lions, 35-28.

Red Bank won its final three regular-season games, beating Brainerd (30-12), Lenoir City (44-7) and Loudon (49-24) en route to the Region 3-3A title and No. 1 seed.

Class 4A

East Ridge (7-3)

The Pioneers reached the Class 3A playoffs the previous three years and reached the quarterfinals twice, losing to Sequatchie County in 2016 and Notre Dame in 2015.

This season East Ridge squeezed into the postseason by defeating Howard (26-6) and Hixson (26-18) in its final two regular-season games. The Pioneers haven’t advanced past the quarterfinals since 1970 when they lost to Memphis Melrose, 26-6, in the semifinals.

Central (6-4)

Since 1990, the Purple Pounders have appeared in nine playoffs and posted just one win, that coming in 2003 under coach Curt Jones. The Pounders beat Powell, 3-17, in the opening round and lost to Maryville, 27-9, in the second round.

Coach Cortney Braswell’s Pounders made the playoffs last season despite a 3-7 record and dropped a 34-7 decision to Page in the first round.

Three years ago Central was 0-10.

Class 5A

Soddy-Daisy (6-4)

The Trojans have to wonder if there’s another team in the playoff pool after drawing tradition-rich Oak Ridge for the third straight year. Soddy-Daisy played the Wildcats tough in 2015 before falling 45-33 and lost 53-28 in 2015. Now, it’s the same matchup this week.

Soddy-Daisy, which let a quality win against Knox Catholic slip through its hands in a 49-48 loss, had to beat high-scoring Walker Valley (1-9), which averaged 47.5 points per game in a one-win season (the Mustangs allowed 50.1 ppg), and took care of business with a 48-28 win for the No. 5 seed from Region 4-5A. The Wildcats won Region 3-5A and are riding a six-game winning streak.

The Trojans’ four losses were by 1, 1, 10 and three points.

Class 6A

Ooltewah (5-5)

The Owls suffered through a disappointing season, ending a string of double-digit win seasons under coach Mac Bryan, who had a 40-10 record coming into the 2017 campaign. This season, however, the Owls went into the final two weeks before nailing down the No. 4 seed from Region 2-6A and the right to play Dobyns-Bennett in the first round.

Ooltewah gained some momentum with a 45-7 win against Heritage (3-7) to close out the regular season. The Owls are 3-1 against the Indians, who won in 2004 and lost in 2005, 2013 and 2014.

After losing to Alcoa on Sept.22, Region 1-6A champion Dobyns-Bennett (7-3) won its last five games to roll into the playoffs on a wave of confidence, outscoring opponents 181-89.

Division II-1A

Grace Baptist Academy (4-6)

The Golden Eagles limp into their third straight playoff appearance after losing the last four regular-season games (185-43). They are 0-6 in postseason play and their last winning season (6-5) was in 2011.

The school and team spirit is high, however, as a big sendoff is planned at the private school on Shallowford Road on Friday morning for Somerville and a first-round game against Fayette Academy.

Coach Bob Ateca and the team will participate in “The Golden Eagle Walk” from the cafeteria to the team bus at 10 a.m. for the playoff trip.

Division II-2A

Notre Dame (8-1)

The Irish launch another bid that will hopefully take Notre Dame to uncharted playoff territory – the state title game at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. Notre Dame reached the semifinals in 1978, 2004, 2005, 2014 and 2015.

Notre Dame has reached the playoffs in each of coach Charles Fant’s six seasons. The East Region champion Irish lost their season opener to Baylor 42-21, but have reeled off eight straight wins in impressive fashion.

The Irish are heavy favorites against first-round foe Lipscomb Academy, which averted a winless season by beating Kenwood, 26-12, in the ninth game of the campaign. At 1-9, Lipscomb, the No. 5 seed from the Middle Region, has the worst record in the 2A bracket.

Chattanooga Christian (5-5)

The Chargers had a four-game winning streak early in the season, but faltered down the stretch by losing three in a row. That zapped the team’s momentum heading into the first-round matchup with Knox Webb. In the late skid, the Chargers were outscored 122-50.

This will be the Chargers’ third playoff appearance. They lost to Notre Dame 55-14 in 2014 and the following year beat DeKalb County 23-22 and lost to East Ridge 28-0.

Division II-3A

Baylor (3-7)

The Red Raiders captured a TSSAA title in 1973, beating Hillcrest 6-0 and lost to Christian Brothers in the 1977 title game. They suffered semifinal setbacks against Ensworth in 2010 and 2011, lost to MBA and Ensworth twice from 2014-16.

And this week, Baylor faces Ensworth again on the Tigers’ home field in Nashville. Baylor has won the last two meetings, but the Tigers lead the overall series, 7-3.

While Ensworth has won four of its last five games, losing 37-7 to Brentwood Academy in the regular-season finale, the Red Raiders dropped four in a row leading up to the postseason.

McCallie (7-3)

The Blue Tornado, the No. 3 team from the East/Middle Region, drew a first-round bye and will face once-beaten Briarcrest in the quarterfinals on Nov. 10.

McCallie knocked off rival Baylor and Father Ryan by a combined 85-21 to gain steam for the postseason.

The Tornado won a championship in 2001 with a 17-16 win over Brentwood Academy. McCallie lost to Brentwood, 37-34, in the 2006 title game. Last season, Brentwood ousted McCallie, 37-29, in the quarterfinals.

TSSAA State Football Playoffs

First-Round Matchups

Nov. 3

All Starts 7 p.m. Local Time

Division I

Class 1A

Monterey (6-4) at South Pittsburg (10-0)

Copper Basin (2-8) at Jo Byrns (8-2)

Clay County (6-4) at Whitwell (9-1)

Lookout Valley (5-5) at Gordonsville (6-4)

Class 2A

South Greene (3-7) at Meigs County (10-0)

Jackson County (5-5) at Tyner (8-2)

Polk County (4-6) at Watertown (8-2)

Westmoreland (5-5) at Marion County (5-5)

Bledsoe County (4-6) at Trousdale County (7-3)

Class 3A

Sequatchie County (6-4) at Red Bank (8-2)

Signal Mountain (4-6) at York Institute (8-2)

Class 4A

East Ridge (7-3) at Greeneville (10-0)

Sullivan South (7-3) at Central (6-4)

Class 5A

Soddy-Daisy (6-4) at Oak Ridge (8-2)

Knox West (6-4) at Rhea County (5-5)

Class 6A

Ooltewah (5-5) at Dobyns-Bennett (7-3)

Science Hill (7-3) at Bradley Central (8-2)

Cleveland (7-3) vs. Farragut (8-2)

Division II

Class 1A

Chattanooga Grace (4-6) at Fayette Academy (6-4)

Class 2A

Lipscomb Academy (1-9) at Notre Dame (8-1)

Chattanooga Christian (5-5) at Knox Webb (6-3)

Class 3A

McCallie (7-3) at Briarcrest (9-1) (Nov. 10)

Baylor (3-7) at Ensworth (7-3)

(Contact Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)


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