It’s been called the SEC of Tennessee high school football. A year ago, La Vergne football coach Stanton Stevens called it the big boy league.
However, things have been different in District 7-AAA this season.
The Rutherford County league known for it’s high-level high school football may be more of an ACC league this season. The big boys took a diet in the offseason.
In other words, District 7-AAA just isn’t as dominant as it’s been in past years.
Sure, with the way that second-ranked Siegel has played this year, a county team is capable of playing the first Saturday in December in Cookeville.
Right now it would be a stretch to say with confidence that there is another team in Rutherford County capable of making it to the semifinals, let alone reach the BlueCross Bowl. Sure, it could happen. But teams must show big improvement.
Sixth-ranked Riverdale is currently 4-2 after losing its past two games. The Warriors very well could fall out of the AP state rankings today after falling to Hendersonville on Friday night.
When was the last time only one Rutherford County football team was ranked in the AP poll’s classification? There have been three 7-AAA teams ranked in the polls the past couple of seasons before this year.
Oakland also is 4-2 and winners of three straight. However, the Patriots have beaten just one team — Blackman — that has a .500 or better record. And the Blaze (3-3) have now lost two straight after falling to Bradley Central on Friday night.
After those four Rutherford County teams, La Vergne is 2-4 and Smyrna is 1-5. Neither have been world beaters.
Rutherford County’s record against non-conference foes is 14-10, hardly SEC material. Take out La Vergne and Smyrna and the record improves to 13-3, with losses to Arlington (4-2), Bradley Central (3-2) and Hendersonville (4-2). None of those three are ranked in their respective class.
The difference between this season and recent years is one of two things.
In the past Rutherford County had better athletes than teams out of 7-AAA. Or if there were similar athletic wise, coaching would have them in position to win where a player could make a play to win a game.
The coaching hasn’t changed that great of a deal over the past few years. But right now plays aren’t being made when needed.
Sure, week in and week out this is still some of the most entertaining football. Siegel’s offense may be the best in the state. And the defense is forgotten about, but has allowed just 49 points in six games.
If Riverdale can recapture the momentum from earlier this season, perhaps the Warriors can save their season from heading south. If Oakland’s youth continue to improve, it may be a dangerous team in the postseason. And if Blackman can continue its physical play and limit turnovers, maybe the Blaze will make the playoffs and advance.
And who knows, maybe La Vergne can win three or more and fight its way in the playoffs?
If all of that happens, maybe the county will regain its SEC status.
But that is a tall order.
Tom Kreager is prep editor of The Daily News Journal. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/Kreager.