Prep picks: Independence has something to prove

Prep picks: Independence has something to prove

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Prep picks: Independence has something to prove

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Coming off a 2011 District 11-AAA championship and an opening-round loss in the Class 6A playoffs, Independence is looking for a little redemption as the Eagles hit the road to face fourth-seeded Mt. Juliet.

The campaign has been a rollercoaster ride for Independence (6-4), which has struggled to utilize junior Vic Wharton III after his transfer from CPA. However, Jalen Wade has been a constant at running back (933 yards, eight TDs) and linebacker (57 total tackles, four sacks).

Mt. Juliet (9-1) has been steady on both sides of the ball, with RBs Contrez McCathern and Caleb Hopkins teaming for 1,975 rushing yards and 23 TDs and LB Josh Belhu giving the defense a lift after returning from a midseason hip injury.

After advancing to last year’s semifinals, Mt. Juliet may be set to make another deep postseason run. Mt. Juliet 24, Independence 16.

Wilson Central (8-2) at Brentwood (9-1): After a loss to Mt. Juliet left Wilson Central third in District 9-AAA, the Wildcats travel to No. 2 seed Brentwood in the 6A playoffs. The two teams nearly mirror each other offensively, utilizing a number of ballcarriers in a ground-based Wing-T. Wilson Central’s Tim Fitzgerald rushed for 166 of his team-leading 488 yards in the season finale. Brentwood’s Ben Green (1,186 yards, 11 TDs) has five 100-yard games, including a school record 307 against Independence. Brentwood 24, Wilson Central 17.

Riverdale (7-3) at Cane Ridge (8-2): With its win over Antioch for the 12-AAA crown, Cane Ridge earned a No. 3 seed and a matchup with a Riverdale squad that advanced to the 6A semifinals in 2011. WR Jeremy Greer (754 receiving yards, six TDs) has emerged as the top threat in Cane Ridge’s passing game, with WR Treydonte Hill (443 yards, three TDs) a solid complement. Riverdale LBs Scottie Boykin and Peyton Phillips key the team’s defense. Riverdale 26, Cane Ridge 21.

Fairview (7-3) at Smith Co. (8-2): Smith County has dropped home games in the 3A playoffs each of the last two seasons. Fairview comes in as a No. 5 seed, but placed third in District 12-AA behind a pair of Class 4A teams. QB Jack Ramey, who has run and thrown for 1,325 yards and 16 TDs, will key the Yellow Jackets’ attack. RB Austin Gregory (488 yards, seven TDs) has been solid for Smith County with Jalen Manning sidelined. Fairview 27, Smith Co. 21.

Portland (5-5) at Centennial (6-4): A Week 10 loss to Station Camp and put Portland on the road to open the 5A playoffs against third-seed Centennial. RB Anthony Lynch (1,319 yards, 11 TDs) has six straight 100-yard outings, with four of those for 200 or more. Centennial, which dropped an OT decision to Hillsboro to close the season, is led by QB J.J. Tomlin (2,120 total yards, 22 TDs). Centennial 31, Portland 20.

Hillsboro (6-4) at Antioch (6-4): Despite dropping its last three games, Antioch nailed down a No. 4 seed in the 5A playoffs. The Bears have a run-heavy offense, with Moses Cornelius and Tyler Bumbalough the primary ballcarriers (1,987 rushing yards, 20 TDs). Hillsboro, in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, has held opponents to less than 17 points per game and scored 26-plus points in each of its six wins. Hillsboro 20, Antioch 14.

Lewis Co. (6-4) at Hickman Co. (6-4): This will be the second meeting in four weeks for the District 12-AA rivals. Hickman County won 28-25 and has a No. 4 seed in the 3A playoffs. The Bulldogs have slid since that win, though, with back-to-back losses. Lewis County rebounded with two victories in its last three games. RB Ryan Bell (681 yards, eight TDs) has been the primary rusher for Lewis County. Hickman Co. 22, Lewis Co. 20.

Crockett Co. (6-4) at Maplewood (6-4): Following a couple of late losses, Maplewood, which reached the 4A finals last year, regrouped with a win at Boyd Buchanan and grabbed a No. 3 playoff seed. The Panthers have been led by the passing combination of QB Ladarrius Wimberly (1,204 passing yards, nine TDs) and WR Ladarius Malone (610 yards, eight TDs). Crockett County, which won just two of its last six games, is paced by RB Johnnie Jones. Maplewood 21, Crockett Co. 17.

Marshall Co. (5-5) at East Hamilton (9-1): An summer coaching change threw Marshall County into an early tailspin, but the Tigers won three of their last four to make the 4A playoffs as No. 7 seed. Over their last six games, the Tigers averaged 32.3 points behind QB Austin Stacey. East Hamilton, in just its third year of competition, is led by RB Logan Jackson. The Hurricanes have won their last eight games. East Hamilton 28, Marshall Co. 20.

Henry Co. (8-2) at Hamilton (7-3): The defending 5A champs go on the road after finishing in a three-way tie for the District 10-AAA title and take on fourth-seeded Hamilton. The Patriots won three straight to close the regular season, including a 21-7 victory at previously unbeaten Dickson County. QB Storme Hilliard leads an offense that has scored 40 or more points in six games. Hamilton has won its last four games. Henry Co. 31, Hamilton 17.

Last week: 49-16, .754.

Season: 544-185, .746.

OTHER GAMES

Eagleville over Monterey

South Pittsburg over Columbia Acad.

Jo Byrns over Wayne Co.

Nashville Chr. over McEwen

Cascade over Watertown

Trousdale Co. over Jackson Co.

Forrest over Mt. Pleasant

Houston Co. over White House-Heritage

Cheatham Co. over Grundy Co.

Westmoreland over York

CPA over Goodpasture

South Gibson over East Hickman

Livingston Acad. over Grainger

DeKalb Co. over Sequoyah

Giles Co. over Lipscomb Acad.

Signal Mountain over Page

Liberty over Sycamore

White House over Chester Co.

Columbia over Sullivan South

Tullahoma over White Co.

Beech over Kenwood

Northeast over Station Camp

Ridgeway over Lawrence Co.

Siegel over Oakland

Blackman over Cookeville

Dickson Co. over McGavock

Arlington over Overton

Harding Acad. over Zion Chr.

DCA over SBEC

Ezell-Harding over Fayette Acad.

St. George’s over Davidson Acad.

Briarcrest over Pope John Paul II

Baylor over BGA

MBA over Father Ryan

Macon Road over South Haven

Christian Community over Aaron Acad.

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