Tigers, Rockets gear up for second round games
After a big win over Notre Dame in round one, the second seeded Marshall County Tigers (8-3) will once again enjoy some home cooking for Friday night's second round 4A playoff game versus the Sequoyah Chiefs (6-5), while the Forrest Rockets (8-3) take to the highway for a match-up versus the Decatur County-Riverside Panthers (4-6) in the 2A bracket.
The Tigers (1984 state champions) are looking to advance past the second round for the first time since 2007 when they lost to David Lipscomb 32-13.
Sequoya's first round win over Red Bank was the school's first playoff win since 1999 and it was a close game as the Monroe County squad won 27-22.
The Tigers continued to play to their strength as they pounded on Notre Dame via 329 rushing yards with senior standout gaining 248 yards on 36 carries at Preston Hopkins Field to break the Tigers' single season rushing mark.
Irizarry has 1,759 yards on the season and the elusive, yet powerful tailback will be the workhorse once again as head coach Tom Turchetta sticks to his run first game plan versus the Chiefs.
On the other side of the ball, the Tiger defense has come on strong, giving up just 9.8 points per game in their last five contests.
The Chiefs must be the Tigers' only focus this week, even though everyone is looking at a potential third-round game at home versus Giles County (8-3) next week if both squads come out victorious as the Bobcats have a very winnable game versus Brainerd (6-5) on the road.
Turchetta will not let his team overlook Sequoyah as the Tigers roll onward with a bruising 27-10 win.
If the Rockets win in Decaturville, they will make school history, plain and simple, as Forrest has not won a second round game since the inception of the state playoff system.
Forrest made easy work of Houston County in a 35-0 rout and just like the Tigers; the Rockets' victory was achieved with a solid running attack.
Quarterback Brooks Lamb ran for 180 yards and three touchdowns and all-state running back Zach Ray continued to pile on the numbers for his great career as he added 149 yards to the ground attack and scored once.
Forrest has gelled in all the right places at the right time as the offensive line has opened up some big holes for the rushing game and the men up front have protected Lamb when he has dropped back to pass.
The defensive linemen have become a force to be reckoned with as they have slowed down their opponents' running game and have put pressure on quarterbacks at crucial times in the ballgames.
The Panthers come in with a sub .500 record, but FHS head coach Kyle Stacey is aware that five of those losses have come against solid ball clubs in Huntingdon, Lexington, Perry County, Adamsville, and Dresden, who knocked the Rockets out of the playoffs last year.
All five teams were ranked in the final AP Top 10 poll at the end of the regular season.
The common opponent for both teams is Perry County, who narrowly defeated the Rockets 22-7 in Week Zero in Chapel Hill in a game that was much closer than the final score projected.
The Panthers were pounded 43-7 by Perry County in Decaturville on Sept. 9.
The scenario for the Rockets is a good one as they take care of business in a close contest 27-24 to advance to round number three next week, hopefully in Chapel Hill versus archrival Cascade, who plays at Adamsville Friday night.
If the Champions lose and the Rockets win, it will be another road contest at Adamsville for Forrest next Friday.