Any high school football player or coach in Tennessee will tell you -- practicing on Thanksgiving is a welcome inconvenience.
That’s the position 24 Division I teams find themselves in this week, as they prepare for matchups that could send them to a state championship game appearance in their respective classes.
With Division II title contests already set, let’s see what Mostradamus sees for this weekend’s state semifinals.
Summit (13-0) at Hendersonville (10-3): The saying is that ‘comparing scores is a fool’s game’, but there’s plenty of fodder here, particularly for a state semifinal clash. The Spartans and Commandos each played four games against three common opponents -- Beech, Shelbyville and Ravenwood.
Hendersonville went 3-1 against the trio, defeating Region 5-6A and Sumner County rival Beech 28-10 in Week 3, Shelbyville 14-12 in Week 8 and Beech again 34-14 in last week’s quarterfinals, while falling 35-28 to Ravenwood in Week 6.
Summit swept four games against the same opponents, downing Beech 39-7 in Week 6, Ravenwood 49-28 a week later in Region 7-6A play, Shelbyville 57-7 in Week 11 and advancing to its third straight semifinal with a 48-28 win last week over Ravenwood.
That computes to a plus-11 scoring margin for the Commandos, and a plus-31 for the Spartans. And while comparing individual game scores may be an exercise in futility, Summit has outscored opponents over the course of the season by an average of 28 points to Hendersonville’s 18-point average.
RBs Torin Baker and Ellis Ellis lead an offense that has shown a penchant for big plays, with Baker breaking an 85-yarder to paydirt and Ellis scoring on runs of 71 and 40 yards in the Commandos’ win last week over Beech. Defensively, Hendersonville has allowed just two postseason touchdowns, shutting out McGavock and Gallatin to open the playoffs.
Summit, ranked No. 3 in the final Associated Press Class 6A statewide Top 10, is led by Mr. Football semifinalists Destin and Keaten Wade along with Brady Pierce. Destin Wade has racked up 3,220 offensive yards (2,033 rushing) with 44 total touchdowns, while Keaten has rushed for 227 yards on 29 postseason carries. Pierce has 668 receiving yards, 305 rushing yards and 18 offensive touchdowns on 78 touches.
With a win, Summit extends its streak to 25 straight wins and clinches a third consecutive championship game appearance.
Summit 38, Hendersonville 21
Also (home team in bold)
Oakland over Maryville
Powell over Knoxville West
Page over Henry Co.
Elizabethton over Upperman
Tullahoma over Haywood
Alcoa over Giles Co.
East Nashville over Dyersburg
Trousdale Co. over Hampton
Westview over Riverside
South Pittsburg over Cloudland
Peabody over McKenzie
Last week: 21-9 (.700)
Season: 98-33 (.748)