After an amazing regular season of football action for our local teams, all three wrapped things up last week with Senior Night festivities and with big wins at home. Now we see all three teams in Marion County ready to face off in round one of the playoffs this Friday night.
Now the teams turn their eyes to the road to Cookeville and their respective class state title games in the TSSAA BlueCross Bowl coming up on November 30th and December 1st (Thursday and Friday) this year. We’ll have more info on that in a moment and when you’ll be able to see those games in Cookeville this year, but first let’s recap the wins from around the valley on Friday night.
Quickly let’s look at the teams from outside of Marion County but still in the Sequatchie Valley and surrounding area. The Class 3A Grundy County Yellowjackets finished their season this year after they were shut-out in a conference game against Smith County on Friday night by a score of 39-0. Grundy finished 3-7 overall on the season and 1-4 in the district, with one of those being a forfeiture against Upperman on October 13th in light of an incident that took place at the school involving some team members that week. Other Tennessee teams in our area that will be heading into round one of the playoffs include Bledsoe County. It only took 3 for the Bledsoe Warriors to win over Tellico Plains The single field goal led them to a 3-0 final over Tellico. They’ll face Trousdale on Friday night on the road in Hartsville. In Sequatchie County, the Indians were upset 20-14 by Upperman wrapping up their regular season. Sequatchie faces Red Bank next week on the road in round one of the playoffs.
In Alabama, the North Jackson Chiefs lost to Madison Co. 26-22, they face Buckhorn next week. Scottsboro was beaten by Etowah 47-27, now they’ll face Madison next week. The North Sand Mountain Bison continue a winning year going 7-2 overall on the season after a 20-13 win Friday night over Geraldine. They face Lexington at home this week. In Dade Co., Georgia, the Wolverines see their third consecutive loss to Chattooga, 34-17. They’ll face Armuchee on the road Friday night in Rome, GA. Both Alabama and Georgia schools wrap-up their regular season this week (Nov. 3rd).
Back at home now, here’s how things went on for the final night of the regular season in the local area…
Let’s start with South Pittsburg, who played Lookout Valley on Thursday last week in Beene Stadium. The Pirates wasted no time in getting points on the board, scoring twice early in the first quarter of action. Senior Sawyer Kelly also showed the Yellowjackets the Pirates were in to win with a huge touchdown just before halftime. Lookout Valley was unable to get past the Pirates’ defense and fell behind 42-0 at the half.
Despite a few penalties and having two touchdowns called-back in the 3rd quarter, it was the younger Pirates that ruled the second half of the game. They held off the Jackets, who were just unable to get any traction and move the ball in their favor. With the Mercy Rule in effect, Coach Grider put the freshman Pirates in the game who only let the Yellowjackets get a few first downs after they gained possession of the ball early in the 4th. That came to an abrupt end for the Jackets as the Pirates regained control of the ball following an interception. With just minutes left on the clock, the Pirates continued to run out the clock taking knees and eventually ending it with a 56-0 win.
The South Pittsburg Pirates end their regular season with a perfect 10-0, which is just the sixth time the team has managed to do that in the past 50 years.
As the Class 1A playoff bracket is set and the games officially begin on Friday, the Pirates are now set to face the Monterey Wildcats in round one at Beene Stadium on Friday night at 7 pm. Monterey finished the regular season 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the district.
Another 1A team who’s had an amazing season is the Whitwell High School Tigers. It has been a season of big wins, breaking all-time school records, and a lot of attention from the local media for the school as Coach Randall Boldin has led these young men to an amazing season!
The Tigers played Sale Creek on Friday night at home on Vernon Holtcamp Field in their fifth meeting with the region 3 schools and wasted no time in getting on the board scoring early and often in a game that was dominated by WR Senior, Dylan Burns; RB Junior, Hudson Petty; QB Senior Dawson Holloway and others as the Tigers drove up the score, putting the game into the Mercy Rule by halftime.
The Tigers kept that momentum in the second half leading Whitwell to a 69-0 win over Sale Creek.
According to Steve Daffron from the WHS “Tiger Football” History group page on Facebook, the 9 wins the Tigers have seen this year now ties the school record set by the 1991 Tigers team in a 10-game regular season. We mentioned breaking records earlier, the 2017 Tigers have done that along with setting new ones as well. In this regular season, they set a new school record of 7 consecutive wins to open the season. 7 consecutive wins tie the 1969 Tigers for the most consecutive wins in a 10-game regular season.
A lot of points were scored this season, too…411 total points scored in the regular season is a new school record set by this 2017 team. The 50 points surrendered over a 10 game regular season breaks the playoff record of 79 held by the 1969 Tiger and is 2nd only to the 1959 team for the school record of 47 points. This year’s 2017 Tigers join 4 other Whitwell squads (1948, 1949, 1957 and 1959) as the only teams in school history to hold five opponents scoreless. Only two games this season (South Pittsburg and Trousdale County) seemed to be a challenge for the Tigers. It was a close one against a well-matched Trousdale team on the road October 6th where the Tigers won 17-14 followed by their only loss coming the next week at Beene Stadium against another well-matched team, as South Pittsburg won 21-14.
The Tigers finish 9-1 overall and 3-1 in the district and now face the Clay County Bulldogs on Friday night in Whitwell at 7 pm. Clay County is 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the district, coming off a loss on the road against Gordonsville last week.
If Whitwell wins in round one, they could face Gordonsville or Lookout Valley the next week in round two and chance another meeting with the Pirates of South Pittsburg in round 3, depending on how they fare against other teams in the Class 1A bracket.
Now we travel down the valley to Marion County High School and Bill Baxter Stadium and the soon-to-be officially-named Ken Colquette Field where the Marion County Warriors have found themselves in somewhat of a tough rebuilding year. The Warriors have played for the state title the past three years but saw a slower start this season after many of the team’s major players graduated last May. That proved to slow down some of the Warrior’s momentum this season, but they’ve quickly built up their steam, gained confidence and grown all while picking-up wins along the way as the regular season has drawn to a close.
Here’s a bit of a recap on how that’s happened this year. First, the Warriors opened their season strong back in August against the Hixson Wildcats with a 62-14 win, but that was followed by a tough 42-41 loss the next week against Sequatchie County. After a 41-3 win at Bledsoe the next week, it was a series of upsets to round out September for the team, starting with a 56-18 loss in the biggest rivalry game in the valley against South Pittsburg followed by two more losses to Tyner and Coalfield. It didn’t break the stride of the young men on the Warriors team who bounced back with a 47-28 win over Tellico Plains on the road. One more upset would come on October 6th as the Warriors hosted Rhea County, falling 34-10 to the Golden Eagles, before picking up two more wins to round out the season — 53-38 over Loudon and Friday night’s Senior Night win over Polk County.
Polk County’s Wildcats couldn’t gain any momentum against the Warriors on Friday night as the Warriors dominated the game led by Senior Jacob Saylors who gained 161 of his 231 yards in the first half averaging 21 yards per carry and scoring 5 touchdowns for the team.
Marion pulled-off three touchdowns in the 2nd quarter gaining good distance from Polk, followed by several big-play strikes against Polk’s one touchdown. Saylors raced 77 yards for his fourth TD, with Marion soon wrapping up the first half of play with a 29-yard touchdown pass.
Saylors finished off his night following a 70-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the 3rd quarter giving the Warriors a 40-7 lead over Polk. Marion would let Polk get one more TD on the board before striking with another touchdown as the clock ran out and before taking a knee with a 47-13 win over the Polk County Wildcats. It was a good season to bookend your opening game win and your end of the regular season game with wins over a Wildcats team, no doubt! The Warriors finish their regular season 5-5 overall and 3-1 in the district this year.
Despite some rocky times through the mid-season, the Warriors have proven to be a very strong team heading into the playoffs showing the confidence and strength needed to win. They now face Westmoreland at home on Friday night at 7 pm. The Westmoreland Eagles are 5-5 overall on the season and 3-2 in the district and enter Friday’s game after two wins — 61-8 over Lancaster Christian Academy on October 20th and a 42-0 routing of Cascade High School last Friday on the road in Wartrace, TN. Following the bracket for Class 2A, it’s expected that if the Warriors win this week in round one, they’ll likely face Trousdale County in round two and could face Tyner again in the Quarterfinals.
Now, back to the road to the BlueCross Bowl for these three teams. Unlike other years where the bulk of the games were played on Saturday at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium in Cookeville; this year the TSSAA has set up the dates a bit different from years past.
Should Whitwell or South Pittsburg make it to the Class 1A State Championship game, it will be played on Thursday, November 30th, 2017 at 11:00 AM CST followed by Class 2A at 3 pm and Class 5A at 7 pm.
Should MCHS make a return for a fourth year to Cookeville, the Class 2A State Championship game will be played the next day on Friday, December 1st, 2017 at 11:00 AM CST with class 4A and 6A following at 3 pm and 7 pm respectively.
This year’s Saturday games are all reserved for Division II teams (Class A, AA, and AAA).
Stay with MarionCountyMessenger.com for continued coverage on the road to the BlueCross Bowl along with LIVE streaming coverage with our media partners — WEPG-AM 910 for MCHS Warriors and South Pittsburg Pirates coverage and KWN-TV and WKWN-AM and WFLI-AM for Whitwell coverage — and always LIVE with MarionCountyMessenger.com Community Radio!