Connection: Clinger picks Bobcats to Beat Devils

By Joel Clinger for The Robertson County Connection

SPRINGFIELD – Joel Clinger of the Robertson County Times selects Greenbrier to beat White House, 14-13. Here are the full picks:

2020 Record: 32-12

This is the final week of the regular season for Tennessee high school football. After all the hoops and hurdles to get to the season, it is hard to believe it is closing.

We have massive games on the schedule this week. All six schools are still alive for the playoffs. At least three and as many as five could get in.

Springfield is playing for a district championship. White House and Greenbrier are matching up for a win-or-go-home season finale, and Jo Byrns needs to win to make the 1A state playoffs.

White House Heritage is locked in as the third seed in Region 5-4A, and East Robertson has a slim chance of making the 2A playoffs.

It has all come to this. Let’s have some fun:

Creek Wood (9-0, 5-0) at Springfield (8-1, 5-0)

You can tell this game is vital just by looking at the records. This is a repeat of what happened last season. In that game, the Yellow Jackets came out on top 14-7.

In order to duplicate that result and clinch the region title, the Yellow Jackets will have to play their best game against the undefeated Red Hawks.

Creek Wood has gotten to this point behind quarterback Elijah Donaldson and a stingy defense. Creek Wood shut out Montgomery Central and Greenbrier earlier this season. They have not given up 20 points or more since the first week of the year.

However, Springfield has the talent to push Creek Wood harder than they have been before. The Yellow Jackets have won every region game by at least 17 points. Senior quarterback Kevontez Hudson is the real deal and has enough weapons around him to make every play a potential gamebreaker.

The first goal Springfield set for themselves is to win the district once again. They are now on the doorstep of achieving it. A win would also give them home-field advantage through two weeks in the playoffs and allow them an easier road to the quarterfinals.

But here is the thing. Creek Wood is playing for the exact same thing.

These two teams are undoubtedly the best two teams in Region 5-4A, and this game has the makings of being a special step for the winner.

Springfield has proven they can be spectacular, but the loss to Marshall County showed weakness. Head coach Dustin Wilson will have his players up for this one, and I expect them to win a tightly contested contest.

Pick: Springfield 28, Creek Wood 21

Greenbrier (4-3, 2-3) at White House (3-6, 2-3)

This is the end of the road for one of these teams. This is a de facto playoff game in Week 11. The winner will make the playoffs as the fourth seed, and the loser will sit at home next Friday.

The Blue Devils needed to win last week to even get to this point and won a physical, muddy game over Montgomery Central by a score of 7-0.

Junior running back Ranen Blackburn returned from injury in the second half, so it appears he may be ready for the final game of the season. Blackburn has taken snaps behind center for most of the season and has even showed off his arm in his last couple games. His return could be critical, as he opens up the offense in a number of different ways.

The Bobcats are coming off a 17-0 loss to Springfield. The defense has been stout all year long, allowing an average of just over 10 points per game. The offense is not flashy and does not have a central star.

Quarterback Braxton Laney spreads the ball around to running back Izik Rector and wide receivers Stoney Smith and Silas Page.

Both teams hit their opponents in the mouth and try to control the ball. The battle will be won and lost on the line of scrimmage. Emotions will be high, and the action should match it.

Pick: Greenbrier 14, White House 13

Jo Byrns (3-6, 1-3) at Pickett County (1-6, 0-3)

There are two ways for the Red Devils to make the playoffs in the final week of the season. The first and easiest is to simply win. A Red Boiling Springs loss would also clinch a spot for Jo Byrns through a tiebreaker.

Jo Byrns has written this book before. Last season the Red Devils won two region games, one against Red Boiling Springs and the final game of the year against Pickett County. They have the chance to repeat those exact results and advance to the state tournament.

Pickett County has yet to win a region game and lost its best chance last week to Red Boiling Springs. Jo Byrns shut out the Bobcats 46-0 last season.

This has been a good year for head coach Tom Adkins and his team. They have a chance to double their win total from last year and continue the season into the playoffs. They should have no problem this week.

Pick: Jo Byrns 42, Pickett County 0

Montgomery Central (3-4, 1-4) at White House Heritage (6-3, 3-2)

Just like last week, this game is just a tune-up for the Patriots, but I’m sure head coach Stetson Dickerson hopes this week is a better dress rehearsal than last.

Heritage lost to Westmoreland 14-7 last Friday. The game meant nothing in terms of playoff seeding, but losing to a 2A school has to be a shot to the confidence of the Patriots at the worst time.

The Patriots are locked in as the third seed in Region 5-4A and will travel to Hardin County next week in the first round of the state tournament. Both teams cannot move up or down in the standings.

Montgomery Central has already been eliminated, so the Indians have nothing but pride to play for after last week’s loss to White House. 

Assuming the starters all play, Heritage should win this game. Montgomery Central cannot move the ball, so the real practice will be for the offense. The Patriots need to be able to get that unit going if they want a shot at taking down a good Hardin County team in the playoffs.

Pick: WH Heritage 27, Montgomery Central 0

Watertown (8-1, 4-0) at East Robertson (3-6, 1-3)

East Robertson was able to get back in the winning column last week over Harpeth. It must have given the Indians a moral victory to close the season because the odds of a playoff berth are exceedingly slim.

In order to make the playoffs this season, the Indians would have to defeat Watertown, the best team in the region, and hope Cascade and Jackson County lose to Westmoreland and Trousdale County respectively. The two losses are very possible, but the victory over Watertown is highly unlikely.

The Indians have battled injuries, going all the way back to the beginning of the season. Taylor Groves and his brother Shaun have spent time on the sidelines. The team is fairly young and will bring back many weapons next season.

If the Indians are able to stay within three or four scores, that would be a success against a real 2A contender.

Pick: Watertown 42, East Robertson 7

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