Alcoa (4-1, 1-0 Region 2-2A) at Oliver Springs (0-5, 0-1)
Tornado quarterback Chase James has thrown 10 passes in a game only once this season. Class 2A No. 1-ranked Alcoa has seen the mercy rule come into play in four of its first five games, with a punishing rushing attack inflicting most of the damage. Jaron Toney, Taharin Tyson, Cameron Foster, Darrell Warren, Deontra Herbert and Jalik Toney have visited a withering display of power to each of the Tornadoes in-class opponents to date, and the Bobcats aren’t having the kind of season it takes to slow Alcoa. Upsets happen, but one here isn’t likely.
Heritage (1-4, 0-2 Region 2-5A) at Soddy-Daisy (4-1, 2-0)
With a stable of running backs led by Michael Cermak, Dallas Hill and Brandon Edmonds leading the charge, along with the slick ball fakes of quarterback Chase Boruff, the Mountaineers have hung with some of the area’s top teams for a half this season. Newcomer Mar Gordon adds even more pop. If Heritage can find a way to back the Trojans off the line of scrimmage with any kind of a passing game, the Mountaineers have a real shot at this one. Farragut, Ooltewah, Soddy-Daisy and Oak Ridge sit unbeaten atop the region standings at the halfway point, but only the Admirals and Owls look unapproachable. A return to the playoffs is a real possibility for the Mountaineers, but it’s definitely go time.
Central (2-3, 1-1 Region 3-4A) at Maryville (6-0, 3-0)
On a night the four-time defending 4A champion Rebels will honor the 1998 state championship team that got it all started, top-ranked Maryville will look to extend the nation’s second-longest winning streak to 67 games. Backs Thomas Shuler and Buddy Jones and quarterback Philip Juhlin look better with every game running the ball. Juhlin and fellow quarterback Mark Young can burn opponents through the air when necessary. Receivers Chris Jordan, Mason Trenda and Zane Winders are consistent big-play threats each. It’s defense, though, where these Rebels are excelling. Senior end Justin Smith, linebackers Cody McCoy and Jeffery Booker, defensive back Tyler Martin and the rest are due equal billing for every Maryville victory this season. One more, and the Rebels clinch a playoff berth.
William Blount (0-5, 0-2 Region 2-5A) at Farragut (5-0, 2-0)
The Governors are really up against it with the Class 5A top-ranked Admirals, but don’t count William Blount out just yet. Receiver Don Cope remains one of the county’s top playmakers. Adam Warth can get the tough yards for the Governors out of the backfield. Quarterbacks Zach Owens and Zach Witt, back from a preseason injury, look more and more comfortable with William Blount’s spread offense with every week. A defense led by down lineman Tim Hassett and Josh Manges and linebacker Cole Lail can still pursue and hit with authority. It’s hoped Governor speedster Darrin Garner will be back in two weeks for the Oak Ridge game. Despite a hard-luck start, with a rash of injuries the primary cause, William Blount needs four wins in its last five games to qualify for the playoffs, and the schedule says the Governors can do it.