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With only three weeks left in the regular season, Roane County's five high school football teams all enter Friday night needing victories to stay alive or solidify their place in the postseason.
Kingston enters Friday appearing to be a lock for a postseason berth with their 6-2 record, but the Jackets still have their eyes set on a District 4-AA Championship and in order to pull that off, Vic King's squad must knock off No. 1 ranked Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK) Friday night at Dr. Nat Sugarman Memorial.
Rockwood and Oliver Springs are also in good shape as far as the postseason is concerned, but both still have work to do if they are to play in November.
Rockwood (4-4) can wrap up an automatic berth in the playoffs with victories at Tellico Plains this week and against Midway on Friday, Oct. 28. The Tigers will be heavy favorites in both games.
Oliver Springs (4-3) is also in good shape as far as the playoffs are concerned and the Bobcats could pretty much wrap up at least a wild-card berth with a victory over Sunbright at D.J. Brittan Field Friday night.
Harriman (3-4) is still in the playoff race, but the Blue Devils also have the toughest closing schedule as Travis Tapp's squad plays a non district game at Grace Baptist Academy in Chattanooga on Friday then the Blue Devils close the season with district games against Grace Christian Academy and Greenback. Harriman will need to win at least one more game to make the playoffs.
Midway (2-5) is still alive in the playoff race, but barely as the Green Wave will need to win at least two of their final three games. The first contest comes Friday when No. 4 ranked Grace Christian head South of the River.
Grace Christian (7-0) at Midway (2-5)
With their backs against the wall, Midway is facing a true heavyweight Friday night as Randy McKamey and his Class AA No. 4 ranked and undefeated Rams invade Roane County.
Grace Christian doesn't have many weaknesses this year as the Rams are balanced on offense and flat-out nasty on defense.
Will McKamey (907 yards rushing) and Jared Carlton (621 yards rushing) lead the Rams' ground game while Devin Smith (1,050 yards passing) and Jake Minga (660 yards) add the balance in the passing game.
Grace Christian's defense is also tough as nails as the Rams have yet to surrender a point in District 3-A action, beating Greenback, Tellico Plains and Rockwood by a combined score of 107-0.
Midway will need to play their best game of the season to have a shot at the upset, and for that to happen, the Green Wave will need a balanced attack of their own with QB Thomas Viar, RB Clay Clower, and WRs Christian Moore and Shandon Lyle all making plays.
The Green Wave are a young team that will be a playoff contender in the future. Friday's future, however, doesn't look as bright... Grace Christian 34 Midway 6.
Harriman (3-4) at
Grace Baptist (4-3)
One week after putting together their best performance of the season at Midway, Harriman will need another strong performance Friday night to win in Chattanooga.
In last week's victory at Midway, Harriman rushed for 488 yards with Tyler Stubbs and Lucas Lunsford each gaining more than 180 yards while Cole McAbee added 3 TDs on the ground.
Harriman will need their ground game again Friday night to keep Grace Baptist and their offense that averages 36 points per game on the sideline.
QB Josh Smith is the leader of the Golden Eagles attack as he has passed for 961 yards while rushing for an additional 459 yards on the season.
Grace Baptist also has three running backs that have combined for 1,365 yards rushing with Will Slack (676 yards) leading the way.
Both teams can move the ball and put points on the board. Grace Baptist, however, is a little more balanced and that could be the difference... Grace Baptist 28 Harriman 20.
Rockwood (4-4) at
Tellico Plains (1-7)
There's no such thing as a gimme in football, but the Rockwood Tigers have a favorable match-up on their side Friday night at Tellico Plains.
The Bears enter Friday's contest having been outscored by more than four touchdowns per game this season and Tellico Plains has yet to hold an opponent under 28 points in any game.
That's good for a Tiger squad in need of a win after last week's tough loss at the hands of Greenback.
Rockwood's game plan will be simple this week as John Webb's squad should line up and run right at Tellico Plains with Everett Campbell, Jared Breazeale, Ethan Headrick, Kyler Hagler, Kyron Inman and Drake Long all getting plenty of touches.
Ball security is the key this week for the Tigers as last week four turnovers put a dent in what was a three-game winning streak... Rockwood 38 Tellico Plains 14.
Sunbright (5-2) at
Oliver Springs (4-3)
Last year, Sunbright beat Oliver Springs, 53-52, in what was a wild contest that would see the Tigers score 10 points in the final 23.9 seconds to pick up the victory.
A lot of Sunbright's talent returns this year with QB Jesse England leading the way. England's top targets are Timmy Turner, David Henes and Billy Hunter while freshman RB Skyler Bunch is another weapon.
Oliver Springs also returns a lot of talent from last year and will need their offense to be clicking on all cylinders against a Tiger squad that averages 35.7 points per game this season.
Last week, Bobcat QB Garrett Miller accounted for 345 yards and 5 TDs and he'll be joined by Jordan Romero, John Simms and Austin West as the Bobcats top play-makers.
Last year's game at Sunbright was a great game that went down to the final seconds. Last year's game also left a sour taste in the Bobcats mouth and Friday night will be sweet revenge... Oliver Springs 35 Sunbright 28.
CAK (6-1) at
Sound the sirens, an air-raid will hit Kingston Friday night.
The air-raid will come in the form of footballs traveling through the nighttime air at Dr. Nat Sugarman Field.
The No. 1 ranked Warriors are led by QB Charlie High and he has thrown for a high number of passing yards (2,640) and TDs (33).
High has plenty of receivers to throw to as six different CAK receivers have 10 or more receptions.
Josh Smith (59-1109, 14 TDs), Davis Howell (40-597, 8 TDs) and Franklin Murchison (30-424, 5 TDs) are High's top targets.
Kingston will try to upset the high-scoring Warriors with a balanced offense.
First and foremost, Kingston will have to run the ball with Demarcus Foster (641 yards) and company leading the way.
Kingston, however, will no doubt have to pass and that's where QB Preston King (928 yards) and big play receivers Robbie Szozda (632 yards) and Aaron Fielden (285 yards) must come up big.
It's Senior Night in the Kingston and that's a special night, but can it lead to a special upset... CAK 35 Kingston 21.
Goose's Gander on other games of interest: Coalfield by 7 over Oneida, Oakdale by 1 over King's Academy, Wartburg by 70 over Jellico, Loudon by 2 over Scott, Alcoa by 28 over Stone Memorial. Last Week 7-3; Overall 74-21.