pick em

2019 record: 25-14

Last week: 2-2

It’s hard to believe that we are already in the home stretch of the high school football regular season.

Then again, I’m OK with that. It’s time to start whittling things down to figure out who will make the playoffs.

I was .500 last week after Springfield lost to Montgomery Central and Greenbrier picked up a road win at Cheatham County. For the season, my winning percentage stands at .641 (a bit lower than I would like).

Region 5-4A is going to come down to the final week. But this Friday’s Portland-Springfield battle could go a long way in deciding the region champ – or at least who gets one of the two home playoff games.

Plus, White House must beat Creek Wood to keep its playoff hopes alive. The abbreviated area schedule (Greenbrier, Jo Byrns and White House Heritage all have open dates) is rounded out by Westmoreland at East Robertson, which should make for an interesting battle.

Here are my Week 9 picks:

Portland at Springfield (Friday at 7 p.m.)

This is one of the top games in the Midstate this week because of its postseason implications. The winner will have an inside track to a home playoff game, while the loser might be forced to travel for the first round.

Portland (4-3, 3-1) is coming off a 37-7 loss to Trousdale County. The Panthers’ biggest win of the season was a 35-21 victory over Montgomery Central Sept. 5. But that game should come with an asterisk – the Indians were without senior RB Lakendriez Sanders, who has already rushed for over 1,000 yards and is making his case for Region 5-4A MVP.

Springfield (4-3, 2-1) dropped a 13-10 loss at Montgomery Central last Friday. The only way the Yellow Jackets can snag the region title is if they beat Portland, Greenbrier and Creek Wood and Montgomery Central loses to either White House or White House Heritage. But they are still in contention for a home playoff game and need a win this week to snap their two-game slide.

That said, I think Portland might be a bit overrated. Outside of the Montgomery Central win, the Panthers have beaten Edmondson County (Ky.), Greenbrier and White House – teams with a combined record of 7-15.

If the Yellow Jackets can contain Portland QB Caleb Mandrell (who left last week’s game with an injury), this one will go in favor of the home team.

PICK: Springfield 31, Portland 20

Creek Wood at White House (Friday at 7 p.m.)

White House’s playoff hopes are on life support after losing to rival White House Heritage 19-12 last week. The Blue Devils (3-4, 0-3) must win out and have either Creek Wood or Montgomery Central lose out to make the postseason.

Meanwhile, Creek Wood (6-1, 2-1) is in better shape. But the Red Hawks need a win to stay in contention for the Region 5-4A title, especially with Portland and Springfield looming on the final two weeks of their schedule.

QB Eljiah Donaldson and tailback Danny Stansberry lead an experienced Creek Wood offense that averages 36 points. The Red Hawks will probably keep pace with that average on Friday.

PICK: Creek Wood 38, White House 18

Westmoreland at East Robertson (Friday at 7 p.m.)

The Indians (3-4, 2-1) got a much-needed week off after taking a 55-6 beating at Trousdale County Oct. 4. In fairness, Trousdale (6-1) has been dishing out beatings all season, outscoring opponents 227-35.

Westmoreland (4-3, 1-2) is also rested after being shut out 35-0 by Watertown Oct. 4. The Eagles have topped East Robertson in each of the last four seasons.

But this game is winnable if East Robertson can find a way to be successful through the air and on the ground. However, the Indians haven’t done both consistently, so I’m going to side with the Eagles.

PICK: Westmoreland 28, East Robertson 21

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