Football

What we've learned through Week 4 of high school football season

Here’s a look at five things we’ve learned through four weeks of the high school football regular season.

Beech's Chris Peach, left, Cane Ridge's D.J. Thorpe, middle, and Hillsboro's JaVonta Payton

Beech’s Chris Peach, left, Cane Ridge’s D.J. Thorpe, middle, and Hillsboro’s JaVonta Payton

Anyone’s guess

The race in Region 6-5A took an interesting turn with Beech’s surprising comeback win over Hendersonville last Friday.

The Buccaneers, off to their best start since Jalen Hurd’s senior season, are now tied atop the region standings with Cane Ridge at 2-0, while Hendersonville — the preseason favorite — has fallen to 0-2.

Hillsboro and Gallatin, meanwhile, have both shaken off early-season setbacks, and both appear able to compete for a region title.

Friday’s slate of games, particularly Cane Ridge at Beech and Hillsboro at Hendersonville, will go a long way in determining how 6-5A shakes out.

Quick ascent

After winning just two games in 2015 — its first season of TSSAA competition — Summertown has reeled off four straight victories to start off year two.

Summertown has eclipsed the 40-point mark in three of its first four games.

It’ll face its toughest test to date on Friday, though, when Summertown coach Leslie Mote squares off against his former school in what could prove to be a pivotal Region 4-1A matchup with fellow unbeaten and 2015 state semifinalist Columbia Academy.

Pearl-Cohn sophomore Xavier Shepherd (8) has thrown for 400 yards and three touchdowns in his last two starts.

Pearl-Cohn sophomore Xavier Shepherd (8) has thrown for 400 yards and three touchdowns in his last two starts.

Back on track

After scoring just one touchdown through its first two games, Pearl-Cohn’s offense seems to have found its rhythm, racking up a combined 91 points in blowout victories over Macon County and Christ Presbyterian Academy.

First-year starting quarterback Xavier Shepherd has been the key.

During the Firebirds’ current two-game winning streak, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Shepherd has been effective through the air, completing 65 percent of his passes for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

Hillwood's Hale Page, left, and Davidson Academy's Stone Norton

Hillwood’s Hale Page, left, and Davidson Academy’s Stone Norton

Young guns

Like Shepherd, a handful of additional sophomore signal callers have emerged in the early season, including Marshall County’s Bryce Wallace, Davidson Academy’s Stone Norton and Hillwood’s Hale Page.

Wallace, the younger brother of former Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, has been lights out so far, throwing for 878 yards and 10 touchdowns with just one interception through four starts.

Norton has thrown for 875 yards and seven scores this season, while Page, the son of Hilltoppers coach Kurt Page, has put up 546 yards and seven scores.

Independence coach Scott Blade

Independence coach Scott Blade

Defensively driven

As many predicted, Independence doesn’t seem to possess the same type of offensive firepower as the record-breaking 2015 Eagles. That hasn’t seemed to matter, though.

While its margins of victory have been slimmer, Independence has kept up its winning ways, and fourth-year coach Scott Blade’s squad has been doing so with opportunistic play on defense.

Through four games, the Eagles, who are allowing 278.2 yards per game, have tallied 16 takeaways, including seven in last week’s 21-7 win over previously unbeaten Smyrna.

Senior Alan Watson has hauled in three of the team’s eight interceptions, while senior defensive lineman Davis Demke has posted three sacks and a pair of forced fumbles.


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Reach Michael Murphy at 615-269-8262 and on Twitter @Murph_TNsports .

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