By Russell Vannozzi for Main Street Preps
NASHVILLE – Russell Vannozzi picks Greenbrier to beat White House by 10 points in week 11. Here are his full picks:
2020 record: 66-23
Last week: 8-2
It has all come down to this: the final week of the regular season is here.
The pandemic has made the 2020 football season difficult.
As of this writing, several area teams – including Clarksville Academy, DeKalb County, Overton, Rockvale and Stewarts Creek – have had their season cut short by COVID-19. There will surely be others as the playoffs progress.
But we had a season. And it appears we will have a postseason. Everyone would have signed up for that back in July.
Here are my picks for 10 intriguing Midstate finales, most of which have postseason implications:
Main Street Preps Game of the Week
Ravenwood (5-4) at Independence (6-1) – Friday at 7 p.m.
Region 6-6A is a cluster at the top with Brentwood, Independence and Ravenwood all still in the running for the league crown. If Independence defeats Ravenwood, it will win the title. If Independence loses and Brentwood beats Centennial, Brentwood gets the top seed. And if Ravenwood wins and Centennial upsets Brentwood, the Raptors snag No. 1.
Still with me? Fantastic.
Independence dual-threat QB Jaxson Campbell is the man to watch on Friday. The senior has accounted for 2,019 total yards and 24 touchdowns, making him a prime candidate for Class 6A Mr. Football.
Of course, Ravenwood has a Mr. Football frontrunner of its own in Clemson commitment Jake Briningstool, a tight end who has 32 catches for 682 yards and 11 touchdowns and also contributes at linebacker.
Don’t read too much into Ravenwood’s record. The Raptors have lost to Pulaski Academy (Ark.), Brentwood, IMG Academy and CPA. This matchup could go either way.
PICK: Independence 30, Ravenwood 24
Hendersonville (6-3) at Mt. Juliet (6-2) – Friday at 7 p.m.
The scenario here is much simpler: the winner of this game will be the Region 4-6A champion.
Hendersonville is on a roll after beating Wilson Central, Gallatin and Rossview this month. The Commandos revolve around running the ball and defense, giving up just 17 points per game.
After back-to-back losses to Rossview and Oak Ridge, Mt. Juliet rebounded with a 53-16 victory over Station Camp. The Golden Bear defense (allowing just 15 points per game) is also solid. But running back Brent Rowe and the Hendersonville offense will be hard to slow down.
PICK: Hendersonville 24, Mt. Juliet 17
Creek Wood (9-0) at Springfield (8-1) – Friday at 7 p.m.
For the second straight season, this finale will decide the top seed in Region 5-4A. Springfield beat Creek Wood 14-7 in 2019 to kick off its run to the Class 4A state championship game.
Springfield dual-threat QB Kevontez Hudson, who has made significant strides as a passer in his second season as the starter, has totaled 1,675 yards of offense and 24 touchdowns to lead the Yellow Jacket offense.
Creek Wood’s hot streak isn’t going to last forever. The Red Hawks’ nine previous opponents are a combined 22-53 overall. Springfield is easily the toughest team on their schedule.
PICK: Springfield 21, Creek Wood 10
Blackman (3-5) at Cookeville (6-3) – Friday 7 p.m.
Both teams enter this game with 3-3 records in Region 3-6A. The winner will advance to the playoffs, the loser will go home.
Blackman hasn’t missed the postseason since 2008. Senior QB Drew Beam is doing everything he can to make sure that streak doesn’t end this season. He threw for 183 yards and three scores in a blowout win over Siegel one week after the Blaze crushed Rockvale.
Cookeville counters with Stockton Owen, a bruising dual-threat QB who has rushed for 1,135 yards and seven TDs. However, the Cavaliers have played just two games in October and the Blaze appear to have found a rhythm on offense.
PICK: Blackman 20, Cookeville 14
Greenbrier (4-3) at White House (3-6) – Friday at 7 p.m.
The No. 4 seed in Region 5-4A is up for grabs here. Greenbrier just lost to Springfield, while White House stayed alive with a 7-0 win over Montgomery Central last week.
Greenbrier settled on sophomore Braxton Laney behind center, and that move has paid dividends. The Bobcats have already doubled their 2019 win total and are now on the cusp of their first playoff berth since 2017.
White House running back Ranen Blackburn (1,161 rushing yards, 8 TDs) has put together a phenomenal junior campaign, though he missed the first half of last week’s game with an injury and wasn’t quite the same when he returned. Look for the Bobcats to take advantage.
PICK: Greenbrier 20, White House 10
Rossview (5-3) at Lebanon (5-4) – Friday at 7 p.m.
This is the last of the do-or-die games. Both teams are coming off Region 4-6A losses – Rossview to Hendersonville and Lebanon to Wilson Central.
Rossview junior Diivonta Phillips (751 rushing yards, 4 TDs) is one of several offensive weapons sophomore QB Garrett Diemel (861 passing yards, 9 TDs) has at his disposal. Outside of blowout losses to Hendersonville and Lipscomb Academy, Rossview is allowing just 12 points per game.
Wilson Central held Lebanon senior RB DeQuantay Shannon to 82 yards on 14 carries last week. If the Hawks can do the same, they will advance to November.
PICK: Rossview 24, Lebanon 20
Hunters Lane (3-2) vs. Hillsboro (3-2) – Friday at 7 p.m. (at Pearl-Cohn)
Hillsboro opened its season with back-to-back one-score losses to Pearl-Cohn and Beech. Since then, the Burros have beaten Glencliff, Cane Ridge and Hillwood. They just need one more to lock up the No. 3 seed in Region 6-5A despite missing the first five weeks of the season.
Standing in their way is Hunters Lane, led by sophomore RB De’ontay Ramey (524 rushing yards, 6 TDs in five games). But the Warriors lost to Hillwood 35-22 on Oct. 8 – an opponent Hillsboro crushed 47-7 last week.
PICK: Hillsboro 45, Hunters Lane 17
Lipscomb Academy (7-2) at BGA (4-3) – Friday at 7 p.m.
Alex Broome turned out to be the missing piece Lipscomb Academy needed to complete its dynamic offense. The junior RB, who recently picked up offers from Harvard and Princeton, has scored 17 touchdowns and averaged 155 all-purpose yards since being declared eligible in Week 3. Lipscomb Academy has not lost since.
The Mustangs clinched the Division II-AA Middle Region title with a victory over CPA last week, while BGA is locked into the No. 4 spot. Both teams may choose to rest some starters.
PICK: Lipscomb Academy 42, BGA 7
Cane Ridge (2-3) at La Vergne (5-4) – Friday at 7 p.m.
La Vergne has clinched the No. 2 seed in Region 5-6A, and Cane Ridge is the No. 4. That makes this matchup more about pride and building momentum ahead of the postseason.
Cane Ridge needs the victory more after losing three of its last four contests. Senior Tyroid Good (878 all-purpose yards, 7 total TDs) has provided plenty of highlights, but something seems to be missing from the team that has reached at least the second round of the playoffs in each of the last four years.
La Vergne RB Ray Banner, who ranks third in the state in rushing yards (1,654) and first in rushing scores (24), is unlikely to play due to an ankle injury, giving the Ravens a prime opportunity to get back on track.
PICK: Cane Ridge 35, La Vergne 14
Marshall County (8-1) at Nolensville (4-3) – Friday at 7 p.m.
The winner gets the No. 2 seed in Region 4-4A. Despite only squeaking out wins over Giles County and Spring Hill the past two weeks, Marshall County is in a better position to grab it.
QB Bryson Hammons (1,119 passing yards, 13 TDs) leads the Marshall County offense that has scored 35 points per game during its current six-game winning streak.
PICK: Marshall County 21, Nolensville 14