Friday night football primer

Friday, October 14, 2016
The fourth-ranked Marshall County Tigers, coming off a bye week, travel to Spring Hill this week for a Class 4A Region 4 matchup versus the Raiders. Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

The three gridiron squads in Marshall County have made this the most exciting football season in many years, sporting a combined 18-4 record with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

The Forrest Rockets, who are off this week, are undefeated, ranked third in Class 2A and sit atop the Region 4 standings with very winnable road games at Eagleville and Jackson County to finish the regular season.

Forrest has not gone undefeated since the 1980 season when they went 10-0 in the regular season, but lost 28-7 to Lewis County in the second round of the Class A playoffs.

TIGERS

The Marshall County Tigers (6-1, 3-0) went to the Class 4A state semifinals last year and have not slowed down, careening their way towards another deep playoff run and have a great shot at back-to-back Region 4 titles.

"I feel like we have done a lot of good things this year in continuing to raise the standard of Tiger football," Marshall County coach Thomas Osteen said. "I feel we are a more complete football team in all three phases than we have been in the last three years, especially with the steps our defense has taken to be a top notch defensive unit."

"The best part is I still think we can improve and get better."

Title within reach

The fourth-ranked Tigers can claim the championship crown with wins this week at Spring Hill (4-3, 1-2) and in the regular season finale at Page (4-2, 3-0) on October 28.

Maplewood (5-2, 2-1), ranked number 10 in Class 4A, visits Preston Hopkins Field next week in the final game of a four-set match versus Metro Nashville schools.

All eyes will be on Spring Hill this week for the Tigers, who are coming off a bye week and used the break in the action to heal up and hone their skills in preparation of the stretch run towards the postseason.

"We had a really productive week off," Osteen stated. "I felt like we got better in stressing some of the fundamentals of the game that might sometimes get lost when prepping full speed for an opponent, while at the same time hopefully giving some rest to some tired legs."

Injury list

Marshall County gets back D'Andre Brown and Blair Conger this week, but Dave Roberts is still recovering from a knee injury and will not play.

Unfortunately, junior standout linebacker Hunter Cummings, who was second on the team in tackles, has been lost for the season with an ACL tear.

Spring Hill's lone region win came against winless Tullahoma and the Raiders are coming off lopsided home losses to Giles County (56-39) and Father Ryan (45-15).

"We are very pleased that all our goals are still completely in our control," Osteen said. "We are itching for the opportunity to play an extremely talented Spring Hill team in a huge region game."

Marshall County is focused, determined, experienced, and very, very talented which does not bode well for Spring Hill Friday as the Tigers fire back up the engines in a big 48-14 win.

Cornersville running back Cameron Whittaker (15), who has rushed for 621 yards on the season and has scored team leading 10 rushing touchdowns is seen here fighting for extra yards last week versus Summertown. Photo by George "Pap" Warren

BULLDOGS

The Cornersville Bulldogs won three games in a row before falling to Summertown last week at Frog Bottom in their last home game of the season, but are still very much in the thick of the Class A playoff picture.

"The guys have been upbeat and positive during the early part of the week, we have had three solid days of practice," Cornersville coach Gerrard Randolph said. "They still understand what we have at stake and they just want to get that loss out of their system."

It seemed like the Bulldogs would pull off a win over the Eagles last week, but the offense sputtered in the second half and did not score, something Randolph expects to be corrected this week.

Confidence

"We have great faith in our offense, it is not a time to panic and I think we will continue to do great things on offense," Randolph stated. "Hats off to Summertown for having a good game plan against us this past Friday night."

Randolph's squad still has a great chance to remain in the running for one of the two top spots in Region 4A with a win this week at sixth-ranked Columbia Academy, but the history isn't good for Cornersville, which has lost six in a row and 13 out of the last 15 to its namesakes from Maury County.

The last time Cornersville came out on top was in a 21-14 victory in 2009 at Columbia Academy.

Tough opponent

"It will be extremely tough to go beat CA at their place, but we welcome the opportunity to do so," Randolph said. "We will not back down, we will go into the game expecting to compete with them and to try and get the win. The guys are pumped for this chance to get back on the field."

Columbia Academy leads the region in scoring with 254 points in league play, but the Bulldogs are at the top of region in defense, allowing just 102 points.

"Defense is all want to!" Randolph exclaimed. "We have to continue to try and meet our goals as a defense and play assignment football. The guys have to continue to trust in the system and just make plays when the opportunity presents itself."

Cornersville is young, but the core group has been playing together for a long time and they have become a resilient team which is very capable on both sides of the ball, but most of all they believe and this should be one of the best games in a long time for the Frog Bottom boys, who go over to CA and beat the private school 28-27.

"We know we still have so much to play for Friday night, there is still some football to be played in this region, and anything can happen in the next three weeks," Randolph said. "We are going to continue to approach every game from here on out as if it is for the region championship."