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It’s October and the race for the playoffs is heating up for Roane County’s five high school football teams.
Entering play on Friday, Kingston leads Roane County with five wins and that should be enough for a Class 3A playoff berth. Now, however, the Jackets need to pile up wins in an effort to earn a high seed and possibly a first round home playoff game. Kingston’s first shot at improving that playoff seed comes Friday when they host McMinn Central.
Rockwood is also in good shape as far as the playoffs are concerned. The Tigers have four wins will be favored in at least two of their final three games. The one game that the Tigers are not favored in, however, is this Friday at Greenback.
Two weeks ago, a playoff berth in Midway didn’t seem possible, but back-to-back wins over Jellico and Tellico Plains have Joe Campbell’s squad sitting on a 3-3 record. In Class A, it will take at least four wins to earn a playoff spot, and the Green Wave will try for win No. 4 at Harriman.
Harriman, on the other hand, enters Friday’s game with a 0-6 record, and the Devils must win out if they are to make the playoffs.
At 2-4, Oliver Springs still has work to do to make the playoffs, but the Bobcats have played a difficult schedule and do have some winnable games down the stretch. The most difficult comes Friday when the Bobcats host Oneida.
McMinn Central (3-4) at Kingston (5-2)
Kingston head coach Blair Harrison has a couple of things to worry about this week. One is a pretty good Charger team, and second is trying to find enough healthy bodies compete against those Chargers.
As the season has rolled on, Kingston has suffered several injuries to an already thin set of skill players. By the end of last week's game at Alcoa, four of the Jackets top nine skill players were on the sideline with injuries. Depending on those injuries, Kingston could be playing a lot of new faces this week.
One player that is healthy, however, is FB Brody Roberts, and he leads the Jackets with 513 yards rushing and nine TDs.
Injuries are the main reason Kingston should lose this game, but no matter how banged up they are, the Jackets will find a way... Kingston 21 McMinn Central 13.
Oneida (5-1) at
Oliver Springs (2-4)
Last year, it was a senior-dominated Oliver Springs squad that beat Oneida twice on their way to the TSSAA Class 2A semifinals.
This year, it’s the Indians that have almost 20 seniors and that experience has the Indians off to a great start.
Oneida's game plan has been simple this season as the Indians look to be physical. Oneida has attempted just 22 passes in six games. The Indians, however, do have a pair of solid backs in Houston West (476 yards rushing) and Brandon Smith (397 yards rushing).
For Oliver Springs to pull the surprise, they must be physical up front and have a balanced offense.
Oliver Springs has shown they can throw the ball with freshman QB Brandon Buck looking to John Simms and Austin West, but if the Bobcats can get a combined 150 yards rushing from leading backs Shawn Childress and Eddie Stephenson then they can keep the Indians defense guessing.
Early in the season this would have been a blowout, and Oneida is still the favorite, but the Indians better not be looking ahead to their showdown with Coalfield... Oneida 24 Oliver Springs 14.
Rockwood (4-3) at
Both teams have just one loss in district play, and for both it was a heartbreaking loss to Grace Christian.
Before that loss to the Rams last week, Greenback was the top ranked team in Class 1A. The Cherokees earned that ranking by outscoring their first six opponents by a combined score of 267-21.
Greenback's explosive offense is led by RB Richard Seymour. In last year's 38-28 victory over the Tigers, he rushed for 234 yards and three TDs while adding 49 yards and another TD receiving.
Eric Anderson and Hunter Cope are other playmakers for the Cherokees.
The best way to keep Seymour from touching the ball will be to control the clock and keep's Greenback's offense off the field.
To do that, Rockwood must rely heavily on their ground game that averages almost 275 yards per game. Rockwood also has four backs, Tyler Skidmore, Kyron Inman, Clay Cisson and Drake Long, that average more than 50 yards per contest.
Both teams are confident and are capable of making a run in the playoffs. This one should be close, and that's when home field plays an advantage... Greenback 28 Rockwood 24.
Midway (3-3) at
Despite being pretty much out of the playoff race, Harriman still has a lot riding on Friday’s game.
First and foremost, the Blue Devils are looking to get their first win of the season, and homecoming would be a great night for just that.
A big reason why Harriman has a great chance of picking up that first win Friday will be the return of star running back Lucas Lunsford. He has missed the past three games with an injury, but should be 100 percent Friday night.
With Lunsford out, the Devils did have to rely on several other players including Chris Works, Kaleb Eleam and Mikey Roberts. That balance should help the home team Friday.
Midway enters Friday’s game sky-high following two straight wins, and those wins now have the Green Wave thinking playoffs.
Like Harriman, Midway has a proven playmaker in QB Shandon Lyle. Lyle leads Roane County with 623 yards rushing, and last week he threw for 208 yards in Midway’s 14-point victory over Tellico Plains.
Midway, however, isn’t a one-horse show. Tyler Clark gives the Green Wave a physical runner between the tackles while Jonathan Beason and Mason Woody are stepping up as go-to receivers.
This one will be close, but Midway is a more confident team… Midway 20 Harriman 14.
Goose’s Gander on other games of interest: Sunbright by 2 over Oakdale, Coalfield by 42 over Jellico, Grace Christian by 35 over Tellico Plains, Stone Memorial by 3 over Cumberland County, Sequoyah by 28 over Scott, Loudon by 4 over White County. Last Week 8-2; Overall 73-10.
Goose’s Gurus picks: Midway, Greenback, Oneida, Kingston, Sunbright, Stone Memorial, Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State, Florida. Last Week 9-1; Overall 60-10.