2019 REGULAR RECORD: 58-14
If you blinked you missed the regular season.
Here we are ready to tackle the 2019 playoffs with five Sumner County teams all hopeful they will be playing in Cookeville in six weeks.
Beech, Gallatin, and Hendersonville will all be at home in round one of the playoffs while Portland and Westmoreland hit the road.
I finished the regular season with a 6-1 week, bringing my total to 58-14 on the season. Not too bad, right? That’s right, not bad. But like these teams, I cannot rest on my laurels. This is a new season, and everyone begins 0-0.
Anyways, my playoff picks and previews.
Beech (Region 6 #1) vs. Columbia (Region 5 #4)
The Buccaneers welcome in Columbia Friday night in the opening round of the playoffs.
Columbia finished the regular season 6-4 and in fourth place in Region 5-5A.
The last time these two teams met, Beech got the best of the Lions, winning 49-27 in the 2017 playoffs.
Over the last four games, Columbia is 2-2, averaging 17 points-per-game on offense and 24 points-per-game on defense.
Beech has been my pick all season to get to the quarterfinal round in Class 5A, so I’m picking them to win Friday night with relative ease.
PICK: BEECH 35, COLUMBIA 14
Gallatin (Region 6 #2) vs. Summit (Region 5 #3)
The Green Wave has a difficult road if they want to get to Cookeville and it starts Friday night at the Wave Yard.
The Summit Spartans ended their regular season 8-2 and the number three seed in Region 5-5A.
That said, Summit didn’t get the best draw either. The Green Wave need to enter Friday night with the mindset that they are the better team and I think they will have no problem with their confidence level.
Over the last four games, Summit is averaging 32 points-per-game and giving up 22 points-per-game, including a shutout over Lincoln County in Week 11.
Which will give Friday night? The Summit offense that is averaging 32 PPG, or the Gallatin defense that is giving up just five points-per-game, including five shutouts.
I picked Gallatin to make it to the quarterfinals before the season started, and I’m sticking with that prediction.
PICK: GALLATIN 28, SUMMIT 14
Hendersonville (Region 4 #1) vs. Cookeville (Region 3 #4)
For the second year in a row, Hendersonville High School will host a first-round playoff game. The difference this year is they will do so as region champions.
Friday night Cookeville will come to town after finishing their regular season 5-5 and in fourth place in Region 3-6A.
The Cavs have won four out of the last five games and are averaging 32 points-per-game in that span. Defensively they are giving up 24 points-per-game, but that number is severely inflated due to the 49 points given up against Blackman in the regular-season finale.
Hendersonville is much better than their record and they have shown that over the last two weeks.
I think momentum continues and they come out and dominate the Cavaliers and get into the second round of the 6A playoffs.
PICK: HENDERSONVILLE 35, COOKEVILLE 21
Portland (Region 5 #4) at Hardin County (Region 6 #1)
Following a 4-6 regular season and a 3-3 mark in Region 5-4A, the Portland Panthers enter the 2019 postseason as the region’s four seed.
They will travel to Hardin County in round one of the TSSAA playoffs, searching for the program’s first playoff win since 2004.
Hardin County finished the season 9-1, 5-0 in Region 6-4A, with their only loss coming in Week 1 against McNairy Central 45-31.
In the span of their nine-game win streak, the Tigers have averaged 23 points-per-game on offense, including scoring more than 30 four times and 40 twice.
As good as the offense has been for the Tigers, it has been the Hardin County defense that has stood out.
The Tigers are giving up just five points-per-game over their nine-game win streak, including three shutouts, and four times holding their opponent under seven points or less.
The only two teams to score in double figures against Hardin County were Jackson North Side (21), and McNairy Central (45).
Since winning their last game of the season against White House back on October 4, the Panthers have gone in the wrong direction both in the win/loss column, as well as the scoring column.
Offensively they have scored just 19 points over the last three games, and given up 110 points.
PICK: HARDIN COUNTY 45, PORTLAND 6
Westmoreland (Region 4 #4) at Tyner (Region 3 #1)
The Westmoreland Eagles hit the road at Tyner for the opening round of the Class 2A playoffs.
You would need to go all the way back to the 2008 season for the last time these two teams met. The Eagles won 21-20.
Westmoreland has struggled this season, more so than I thought they would. I expected a possible region championship, but instead, they are limping into the playoffs.
A long road trip to Hamilton County certainly does not help, but hey, that is why they play the games, right.
Still, I think the Rams are poised to make a deep run this year in Class 2A and I think it starts Friday night versus Westmoreland.
PICK: TYNER ACADEMY 45, WESTMORELAND 14