Welcome back to Hash Marks, a Main Street Preps column.
Each week in this space, we’ll rewind the previous week and look at the week ahead in Middle Tennessee football.
If everyone could remain undefeated, would football really be much fun?
These teams have overcome ups and downs to reach the second week of the playoffs.
Brentwood (7-4): No one panicked after an 0-3 start. The Bruins have now won six in a row after kicker Isaac Hayes’ 30-yard field goal as time expired lifted Brentwood to a 24-21 win at Germantown. Up next is a tough rematch at Summit (11-0) on Friday.
Columbia (7-4): The Lions started 0-1 and had a .500 record as recently as Oct. 8, after back-to-back losses to Page and Giles County. The Lions’ backfield depth is coming in handy. Q Martin came up with two key scores in last week’s 30-10 victory over Mt. Juliet. Next: Another game against Green Hill (10-1).
Clarksville (7-4): The Wildcats have remained above .500, but a stingy Region 5-6A schedule brought tough defeats against Hendersonville, Beech and Gallatin. Robert Riley’s pick-six in a 33-27 upset win at top-seeded Cane Ridge might have been Clarksville’s play of the year. Friday brings a second meeting with Beech (8-3).
Gallatin (5-5): The Green Wave started 1-3 and were 3-5 in late October. What happened next? Gallatin intercepted three passes against Smyrna and got touchdowns from three different players — Markelos Owens, Jaheim Merriweather, and ZyKyian Brinkley — in its first playoff victory since 2013. Now comes a visit to top-seeded Hendersonville (8-3).
Jo Byrns (6-5): Sitting at 3-5 after a three-game October skid, outsiders might not have predicted the Red Devils would win their first playoff game since 2017. But quarterback Ryan Dowlen gained 307 all-purpose yards and scored four touchdowns in a 28-6 win over Whitwell. This week will be much tougher at Gordonsville (9-1).
Nolensville (5-6): It would have been easy to write the Knights off after a 1-5 start. But Nolensville is beginning to show why it was the preseason pick to win Region 6-5A. Coby Walton threw six TD passes in a 52-21 win at Station Camp last week, earning the Knights a chance to play Page (10-1) again.
One big question
How will the region rematches shake out?
Playoff brackets are designed to pit region rivals against each other in the second round, provided, of course, that each team wins its first-round game. Franklin turned the bottom of the 6A bracket upside down last year when it upset Ravenwood in the second round.
These are some intriguing rematches this week: Brentwood at Summit, Clarksville at Beech, Nolensville at Page, and Montgomery Central at Tullahoma.
This statistic caught our attention last week.
Nolensville quarterback Coby Walton put up a pristine passing line, completing 22-of-30 attempts for 313 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Where to be this week
Go to Waverly Central at East Nashville.
There are higher-profile games on the slate. But this Class 3A meeting could be a close one, and both programs are having special seasons.
Waverly (9-1) has been through a lot. The Tigers haven’t played a home game due to damage sustained in a deadly August flood; the community is still working through its recovery. Quarterback Jacob Dooley, a Tennessee Titans Class 3A Mr. Football semifinalist, is a lot of fun to watch.
East Nashville (7-4) is coming off its first region title and could become the first in school history to advance past the second round of the playoffs. Quarterback Zacc Beard and running back Amarion Ford help make up a well-run offense.
For dinner, make it easy on yourself: Go to Five Points Pizza. It's literally three blocks from the stadium. Their pepperoni is a true classic and the salads are super fresh.
Number to know: 4
All four playoff teams from Region 5-6A — Hendersonville, Beech, Gallatin and Clarksville — advanced to the second round.
They said it
“It was just wild tonight.”
That’s Green Hill receiver Kaleb Carver to Ivan Aronin, after the top-seeded Hawks won the school’s first playoff game in dramatic fashion, 48-40, over Franklin County. Carver returned an onside kick 55 yards for a TD in the win.
You love to see it
It’s 2021 and high school football players are still getting jacked listening to Phil Collins’ 1981 hit “In the Air Tonight.”
Page coach Charles Rathbone tweeted a video of his players going through their pre-game locker room preparation last week. Players are talking amongst themselves with the song in the background, then the room falls silent right before the drum solo — at which point they all bang on their lockers in unison.
Something about this song pumps oxygen into your blood, even today.
All the feels
I loved this quote from East Nashville coach Jamaal Stewart last week.
“This is the one time in your life you get to play with your best friends every week, in front of your community and family every week. When you graduate this group will never see each other every day, ever again. So let’s stay together as long as we can.”