Four-hour bus rides are never fun.
For high school football coaches they can be a nightmare as they try and keep their team’s mindset on football and not, well, life outside of football.
That does not account for simply being crammed on a bus.
Two Murfreesboro powerhouses will travel down I-40 toward Memphis to open their season. They’ll ride in the comfort of chartered buses with the task of representing Rutherford County and District 7-AAA against two of West Tennessee’s best. Oakland plays at Arlington and Riverdale plays in Brighton.
No, they won’t travel together or will they caravan. But they both have the same goal.
A win tonight is the first step toward playoff bound. It’s one of likely six needed in Class 6A to guarantee a spot in the TSSAA playoffs if the trend over the past three years continues. The other goal, although coaches may not say it, is to represent 7-AAA and let the western portion of the state know that 7-AAA remains a powerful conference with some of the best teams in the state.
Oakland has perhaps the more difficult challenge with Arlington. The Tigers feature one of the state’s top quarterbacks in Drew Reed, who threw for about 2,800 yards in 2011. Oakland eked out a 27-17 win at home in 2011. The Patriots will be in another nail biter this year.
Kreager’s prediction: Oakland 31, Arlington 28
Riverdale at Brighton
Riverdale demolished Brighton in 2011, winning 49-6. But this isn’t the same Riverdale team that reached the 6A state semifinals in 2011. The secondary has questions and isn’t as deep as a year ago. But this also isn’t the same Brighton team that won 10 games in 2012. Graduation paid a toll on the Cardinals, who will play several sophomores this season.
Expect Riverdale to win handily thanks to the likes of Dillon Woodruff and Mariko Odom.
Kreager’s prediction: Riverdale 54, Brighton 17
Blackman at Independence
Independence was on the brink of an upset a year ago when the Eagles played at Blackman a year ago. Can Indy get over the hump this season? The addition of Vic Wharton should do it.
Kreager’s prediction: Independence 24, Blackman 17
Siegel at Franklin
The Rebels better take a deep breath now. They’ll need it to keep pace of the Stars with their high-powered offense.
Siegel’s offense, led by the quarterback-receiver combination of Brent Stockstill and Tae Martin, has been an impressive one to watch with plenty of depth. Tonight should be no different.
Kreager’s prediction: Siegel 49, Franklin 14
Smyrna at BGA
This game has been tabbed as the annual Clinic Bowl. With the amount of graduation losses as both squads felt in the offseason, many might scratch their head. Both teams need to kick off their seasons with a win as they may be few and far between.
Kreager’s prediction: BGA 21, Smyrna 20
La Vergne at Antioch
Bragging rights are on the line in this rivalry game between neighboring communities. A year ago the Wolverines dominated the Bears and posted their lone shutout. Look for more domination tonight.
Kreager’s prediction: La Vergne 27, Antioch 7
Eagleville at Westmoreland
Eagleville proved it can beat a team two classes larger a year ago when it beat Westmoreland in double overtime. It can do it again, especially with the addition of an air attack to go with Chris Hale’s strong run game.
Kreager’s prediction: Eagleville 27, Westmoreland 26
MTCS at Nashville Christian
MTCS has improved from a year ago. But the Cougars are still extremely young, playing mainly freshmen and sophomores. Those underclassmen could keep things close early.
Kreager’s prediction: Nashville Christian 35, MTCS 21
Watertown at Cannon Co.
An 0-10 season was a bitter pill to swallow in Woodbury in 2011. However, Watertown coach Gavin Webster’s Purple Tigers will be a tough opponent to end the streak.
Kreager’s prediction: Watertown 41, Cannon Co. 14
Last season: 66-19 (78 percent).