White House (7-1 overall, 5-0 in District 9-AA) at Cheatham County (3-5, 2-2)
Kickoff at 7 p.m. at Ralph Spangler Stadium
Last week: White House captured a 28-13 victory at Westmoreland. Cheatham County claimed a 33-18 win over visiting White House Heritage.
Last meeting between the two teams: The Blue Devils claimed a 42-6 victory in 1986.
After securing the program’s second consecutive District 9-AA title last Friday, it may seem if White House has little left to play for in the regular season.
However, improving the team’s seeding for the playoffs is one reason why that the final two regular-season contests have significance.
Blue Devil head coach Jeff Porter looks to past history as the most important reason for the relevance of week 9 and week 10.
“We feel like we have a lot to play for because of last year,” Porter said. “We were in this same situation, and we went into the tank the last two weeks of the season (losing 21-0 to Smith County and 25-18 to Sycamore). We went into the playoffs struggling.
“We have to learn to finish. In weeks nine and 10, we have to finish.”
The Blue Devils have won their last five games, playing turnover-free football for the last four of those contests.
“It goes into your mindset,” Porter – whose squad is plus-12 in turnover margin this season – said. “Our mindset has been really good the last four weeks. We’ve been ready to play. There’s no doubt before the game the other night (prior to last Friday’s 28-13 victory at Westmoreland). They were in their zone. You have to be this time of year. There’s not many weeks left, so we have to make every day count.”
Westmoreland did not have a district loss until last Friday’s setback.
“That was a hard-hitting game,” Porter said. “If you take away the first possession and the last possession, we played really well. We were on the ropes the first six minutes of the game, but give credit to the kids for creating and getting a turnover (which halted the Eagles’ early momentum).”
While White House will be in the Class 4A playoffs in the postseason, the Cubs are attempting to return to the Class 3A playoffs. Cheatham County won its first 12 games last season before falling to Christ Presbyterian Academy in the quarterfinal round.
The Blue Devils also lost in the quarterfinals last season.
The Cubs won just one of their first five games this season, but they have won two of their last three contests, a 24-7 victory over visiting Sycamore and last Friday’s 33-18 win over visiting White House Heritage. The victories were sandwiched around a 17-16, overtime loss at Clarksville Academy.
Cheatham County is unbeaten at home and winless on the road.
Out of the Cubs’ I-formation offense, senior running back Desmond Sweatt rushed for 218 yards and two TDs on 28 carries last Friday.
“He’s by far the best back we’ve seen this year,” Porter – who also pointed to junior tight end Kevin Bennett as an impressive piece of the team’s offensive puzzle – said. “He’s 5-foot-9, 190 (pounds). He does have speed and size, but the thing that is most impressive is that he has great vision.
“This is a great opportunity and test for us this week. He is a great tailback. That’s what you’re going to see every week in the playoffs.”
Cheatham County employs a 50 front (consisting of five linemen and two linebackers) defensively.
“It’s a carbon copy of ourselves,” Porter said of the Cubs’ similar offensive and defensive configurations.
The Blue Devils are hoping that sophomore tailback Trey Hyde can handle more extensive action this week after returning from an injury two weeks ago. However, Hyde was limited again last Friday.
The two programs have not played since 1986.
Westmoreland (6-2, 3-1) at Harpeth (6-2, 2-2 in District 9-AA)
Kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Harpeth Middle School
Last week: Westmoreland suffered a 28-13 loss to visiting White House. Harpeth captured a 23-7 victory at Sycamore.
Last meeting between the two teams: The two programs have not played before.
Westmoreland didn’t want to settle for district runner-up this season.
However, that’s the best that the team can hope for following last Friday’s loss to visiting White House.
The Eagles have battled through back-to-back weeks of close games, including a one-point victory over Greenbrier two weeks ago, and Westmoreland is on the road for the first time since its season opener, following a stretch of seven consecutive home games.
With all of those variables in play, Eagle head coach Steve Harris is hoping his squad can bring its focus to the task at hand.
“That’s the biggest concern I have at this time,” Harris said. “If we want to finish in second place, we need to win this football game.”
Westmoreland’s final two regular-season contests are also significant in terms of determining what seed the team will have entering the Class 3A playoffs.
“We hope to be at home (in the first round of the playoffs),” Harris said. “If we can win these last two games, we feel like we have a good opportunity to have a home game.”
The Eagles allowed the second-most points they have surrendered during a game this season in last week’s setback. Westmoreland has given up a total of 68 points in its two losses and has surrendered just 38 points over its six victories.
“Any time you lose, you hope you can learn from it,” Harris said. “We felt like we were able to stop them early. Once they got the lead and got in two tight ends (formation offensively), we were just not able to set the corner.”
The Indians started the season with five consecutive victories – including a forfeit win over Nashville Christian (in a game that NCS initially won by a 55-24 margin) – but then suffered losses to Greenbrier (43-14) and White House (31-0). Harpeth bounced back last week with a 23-7 victory at Sycamore.
The Indians led just 9-6 entering the fourth quarter last Friday, but quarterback Jett Brinkley had two touchdown runs to help seal the win.
Senior running backs Jason Fennell and Daulton Rose combined for 227 rushing yards last week out of the team’s I-formation offense.
“(Fennell) is a good running back,” Harris said. “He’s real quick. The fullback (Rose) is a good player, and the quarterback is a good athlete who throws the ball real well.”
Harpeth has produced a total of 14 points in its two losses but has averaged 25.6 points per game over its other six contests.
Eagle junior defensive tackle and placekicker Jordan Holmes suffered a concussion last Friday, leaving his status for tonight’s game uncertain.