Eight of Tennessee’s 20 unbeaten high school football teams reside in Middle Tennessee.
Those squads are only two wins away from an unblemished regular season.
However, they’re barely halfway there to the ultimate goal, a 15-0 campaign that ends in a state championship.
“In the front of my mind, we’re still 0-0,” Cane Ridge safety Brandon Lewis said. “We’re working on not being comfortable. We still have something to go after.”
The Ravens (8-0) have stepped up their level of play since coach Eddie Woods’ arrival prior to the 2015 season. Cane Ridge combined for an 11-11 record in 2013 and 2014, prior to Woods becoming the coach. But Cane Ridge has equaled the program record for wins the last two seasons.
“Coach Woods’ mindset changed the whole program around,” Cane Ridge quarterback D.J. Thorpe said. “We changed discipline. We became more accountable. He made us work harder and want to work. He instilled it in us through a process.”
Stratford has provided the most drama of the unbeaten squads, escaping with three one-point victories over Region 5-3A foes. Oakland hasn’t been threatened in outscoring its opponents by a combined margin of 381-33.
Columbia Academy is the state’s only 7-0 squad after its opener was canceled due to lightning. Fairview — the only unranked team among the state’s unbeaten — has the toughest remaining schedule with region clashes against Camden (5-2) and Harpeth (7-1).
First-year Forrest coach Brent Johns, a Forrest native and assistant coach over the previous three seasons, has simply kept the Rockets headed in the right direction after a 10-2 mark in 2015.
“We had a lot of juniors (including the entire offensive line) step up this year,” two-way starter Jacob Jones said. “They know what they’re doing now.”
Jones and the rest of the seniors need four wins to equal the most wins (37) of any Forrest class over a four-year span, and they’re three wins from the school’s winningest single season. Forrest is seeking its first unbeaten regular season since 1980.
“We don’t talk about it … we don’t think about it,” senior Slayton Wild said.
Independence and Wayne County hope to take an unbeaten record into the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Independence, the defending Class 5A state champion, has the state’s longest active win streak at 23 games.
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“Our success is not a secret to the teams we play,” Independence coach Scott Blade said. “We’re not going to sneak up on anybody. We are going to get everybody’s best shot. All we can control is ourselves. We are working our tails off and grinding to get better every day in practice.”
Blade admits that there is some pressure that comes along with the streak.
“Having not lost in almost two years, they feel a sense of pride and want to try to keep things going as long as we can,” Blade said. “The added pressure comes with the expectations we’ve built. They don’t want to let things down. They don’t want to stop this thing.”
Reach Craig Harris at 615-259-8238 and on Twitter @CHTennessean.
Who the eight Midstate unbeaten teams have left to play:
Cane Ridge (8-0): Station Camp (3-5), Gallatin (6-2)
Columbia Academy (7-0): Whitwell (4-4), Huntland (4-4)
Fairview (8-0): Camden (5-2), Harpeth (7-1)
Forrest (8-0): Eagleville (2-5), Jackson Co. (6-2)
Independence (8-0): Franklin Co. (3-5), La Vergne (2-6)
Oakland (8-0): Cookeville (5-3), Smyrna (6-2)
Stratford (8-0): Whites Creek (3-5), Greenbrier (5-4)
Wayne Co. (8-0): Huntingdon (6-1), Collinwood (5-3)