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After a grueling regular season, three teams from Roane County will be starting postseason play Friday night as Midway, Kingston and Rockwood have all qualified for the playoffs.
All three teams will be on the road facing teams that have been a thorn in their side in recent years in the playoffs.
For Midway, the Green Wave will be traveling to Cloudland in the first round of the TSSAA Class 1A playoffs. Midway has played at Cloudland three times in the playoffs since 2001, but the Green Wave have yet to pick up a victory.
Rockwood will be at Boyd-Buchanan for the third time in the last four years. The Tigers lost to the Buccaneers in the 2009 Class 2A semifinals, 42-0, and last year John Webb’s squad suffered a heartbreaking 17-13 defeat in the second round of the playoffs.
Like Rockwood and Boyd-Buchanan, Kingston will be visiting Polk County for the third time in the past four years. And like the Tigers, the Yellow Jackets haven’t had much success in Benton as Polk County downed the Jackets in 2009, 29-0, and 28-14 last season.
A fourth Roane County team will be in action as Oliver Springs added an 11th regular season game. The Bobcats will be playing Stone Memorial at Grace Christian Academy Saturday at 1 p.m.
Oliver Springs (4-6) vs. Stone Memorial (2-8)
Oliver Springs missed out on making the playoffs following a 21-0 loss last week, but the Bobcats will get a second chance at a happy ending to the season when they take on Stone Memorial at Grace Christian Academy.
The game will be a benefit for Grace Christian RB Will McKamey and his family. McKamey suffered a season ending brain injury last week and spent the weekend in the ICU at Chattanooga’s Erlanger Hospital. Will’s father, Randy, is Grace Christian’s current head coach and was an assistant coach at Oliver Springs before heading to Grace Christian.
Stone Memorial suffered through a two-win season, but the Panthers played a brutal schedule, facing seven teams that are in the TSSAA playoffs. A 12-point loss to CAK and a two-point loss against Loudon shows how tough the Panthers can be.
For Oliver Springs, last week’s loss was disappointing, but the Bobcats did hold the highest scoring Class A team in Kentucky to 27 points below their season average.
If Oliver Springs’ defense gives that type of effort, and the Bobcats ground game led by Michael Nelson, Eddie Stephenson and Shawn Childress have a good game then Oliver Springs will be in good shape.
A Class 2A team taking on a Class 4A team should be a mismatch, but Oliver Springs has played well down the stretch and if they bring their A-game they can pull the upset… Oliver Springs 21 Stone Memorial 20.
Midway (5-5) at
After starting the season 1-3 and giving up 110 points in those losses, it didn’t seem that Midway would be playing at Cloudland the first week of November, but Joe Campbell’s squad found their groove midway through the season and won four of their final six games.
A big reason for Midway’s turnaround was their passing game. Through four games, Midway QB Shandon Lyle threw for just 118 yards on 11 attempts, but he passed for 1,065 yards in the final six games of the season. Lyle also has 1,003 yards on the ground.
Lyle has three solid targets to throw to as Mason Woody (22-479), Jonathan Beason (18-305) and Zach Qualls (13-320) are all capable of making big plays.
Cloudland is also a young team, but when they’re on, they’re very good. In their seven wins, the Highlanders are averaging 41.9 points per game compared to six points per game in their losses.
The Highlanders have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers as RB Taylor Whitehurst has rushed for 1,600 yards and 24 TDs while QB Jeffrey Rhinehart has added 1,014 yards and 11 TDs on the ground.
Midway has improved steadily over the season, but a young team making a long road trip for their first playoff trip in five years could be tough to overcome… Cloudland 28 Midway 20.
Rockwood (6-4) at
The Tigers used physical play to keep the Buccaneers on their heels last year, but a John Hale 87-yard kick return for a touchdown with 3:35 remaining allowed Boyd-Buchanan to pull out the 17-13 victory.
Rockwood’s game plan last year was to negate the Buccaneers athleticism by smashing them in the mouth. That will be the game plan again this year as John Webb’s squad will try to pound the ball at Boyd-Buchanan with FB Clay Cisson, RBs Kyron Inman, Drake Long and Tyler Skidmore, along with QB Jared Breazeale getting the bulk of the carries.
Boyd-Buchanan counters with a multiple offense led by QB Jim Cardwell, Jr. Cardwell has thrown and passed for more than 700 yards this season. The Buccaneers also have a 1,000-yard back in Rance Harden while Grant Mathis and Austin Hall will be Cardwell’s go-to receivers.
Just like last year, not many people are giving the Tigers a chance. But Boyd-Buchanan knows they were lucky to escape last year and the state’s No. 2 ranked team in Class 2A will survive… Boyd-Buchanan 24 Rockwood 20.
Kingston (6-4) at
Polk County (7-3)
The Jackets are hoping the third time’s the charm when it comes to visiting Polk County as the Wildcats ended Kingston’s season in 2009 and 2011.
If Kingston is to pick up the victory, they must slow down Wildcat RB Zach Miller. Sequoyah found out just how dangerous Miller can be as he rushed for 411 yards and six TDs on 44 carries when the teams met on Oct. 12.
Kingston probably won’t have anybody putting up those types of numbers, but the trio of Brody Roberts, Rhett Jones and Dustin Kitts are all capable backs and won’t allow the Wildcats to focus on just one player.
The Jackets will also try to keep the Wildcats off balance with QB Brandon Ott looking for TEs Ben Redden and Aaron Acosta.
The Jackets have a great chance to win Friday night, but injuries have taken their toll as the season has rolled on… Polk County 21 Kingston 14.
Goose’s Gander on other games of interest: Alcoa by 48 over McMinn Central, CAK by 14 over Loudon. Last Week 8-3; Overall 108-19.
Goose’s Gurus picks: Cloudland, Boyd-Buchanan, Polk County, CAK, Science Hill, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee. Last Week 6-4; Overall 88-22.