Playoffs set to begin

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By Goose Lindsay

The second football season starts Friday night as Harriman, Kingston, Oliver Springs and Rockwood open play in the TSSAA playoffs.

Harriman enters the second season as a No. 6 seed in Quad 1 of the TSSAA Class A playoffs and the Blue Devils will play at No. 3 Copper Basin.

Kingston will also be on the road Friday night, but there trip won't be quite as far and the foe will be a familiar one as the No. 7 Class AAA seeded Jackets visit No. 2 seed Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK).

While those games are big, the final game involving Roane County teams Friday night will be huge as former Region 2-AA foes Oliver Springs and Rockwood hook up at Rockwood's Civitan Field. Oliver Springs enters Friday's contest as the No. 6 seed in Quad 1 of the Class AA playoffs while the Tigers are the No. 3 seed.

Harriman (5-5) at 

Copper Basin (8-1)

One look at Harriman and Copper Basin's records would indicate an easy win for the Cougars, but looks can be deceiving as the Blue Devils have played a brutal schedule while the Cougars have played quite a few cream puffs on their way to the state's No. 6 ranking.

Copper Basin's strength is a stingy defense. The Cougars have allowed a mere 47 points on the season and five of their nine opponents never got the goose egg off the score board.

The Cougars, however, probably haven't faced a rushing attack as potent as the Blue Devils. Entering Friday's contest, Harriman averages more than 250 yards per game on the ground with Dimitrique Inman (1,118 yards, 13 TDs) and Brandon Williams (745 yards, 5 TDs) leading the way.

Inman is also Harriman's leading receiver on the season with 17 receptions for 297 yards.

Goose's Gander

Harriman has struggled at times, but it's now time to put up or shut up and the Devils aren't quite ready for basketball season just yet... Harriman 21 Copper Basin 14.

Kingston (6-4) at 

CAK (9-1)

It was only three weeks ago that the Jackets traveled to CAK and suffered a 21-point setback.

But all wasn't bad in that game as the Jackets were tied at halftime with a dropped touchdown pass and a fumble inside the 10 yard line possible costing Kingston a two-touchdown lead at halftime.

If Kingston is to pull the upset on Friday then the Jackets are going to have to protect the football and put points on the score board. For that to happen, the Jackets must have a big game from FB Coty Groves, who rushed for 126 yards three weeks ago against the Warriors.

Kingston must also have a solid night from QB Darren Mossing, who has thrown for 973 yards this season.

Kingston's challenge on defense will be a tough one as the Warriors enter Friday's game averaging more than 40 points per game.

CAK is led by QB Quinn Epperly (2,584 yards passing, 34 TDs), RB Carson Pegram (564 yards, 9 TDs), WR Davis Howell (72 receptions, 966 yards, 13 TDs) and WR Josh Smith (50 receptions, 819 yards, 13 TDs).

Goose's Gander

While most think this game won't be close, the Jackets proved in their first meeting they are capable of going toe-to-toe with the powerful Warriors. The only problem is Kingston needs an almost perfect game while the Warriors need only their usual Friday performance... CAK 35 Kingston 28.

Oliver Springs (6-4) at Rockwood (7-3)

Although they haven't played for two years, the Bobcats and Tigers haven't learned to like each other as both teams are gearing up for a hard-hitting contest on Friday.     

Oliver Springs will be looking to push the tempo Friday night with their no-huddle attack that has produced more than 360 yards per game on offense.

The leaders of Oliver Springs' attack are QB Garrett Miller and RB Jordan Romero. Miller has thrown for 1,177 yards and 11 TDs while rushing for 924 yards and 16 TDs this season. Romero has amassed 993 yards and 12 TDs on the ground.

The Bobcats also have a trio of threats in the passing game as John Simms, Michael Nelson and Austin West each have more than 200 yards receiving.

While Oliver Springs is all about offense, the Tigers are all about defense as Rockwood gives up just 13.8 points per game.

Rockwood, however, is anything but vanilla on offense as the Tigers aren't afraid to put the ball in the air with QB Lucas Jolley (1,041 yards, 16 TDs).

Jolley has found several receivers to throw to this year. Early in the year, Brendan Kirkland was Jolley's No. 1 target, but a mid season injury has allowed Cameron Webster and Josh Boles to establish themselves as go-to receivers.  

While Rockwood isn't afraid to throw the ball, head coach John Webb would still rather run the ball down the Bobcats throat. Collin Smith (484 yards rushing) is the Tigers leading rusher this season, but second leading rusher, Dillon Deardorff, was injured last week and his status for Friday's contest is uncertain.

Goose's Gander

What happens when a high-powered offense meets a tough-as-nails defense? Well, defense wins championships... Rockwood 24 Oliver Springs 22.

Goose's Gander on other games of interest: Greenback by 7 over Cloudland, Alcoa by 49 over Sweetwater, Loudon by 6 over Howard, Scott by 7 over Claiborne County. Last Week 9-1; Overall 88-25.

 Goose's Gurus Picks: Rockwood, Harriman, CAK, Alcoa, Scott, USC, TCU, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee. Overall 72-28.