Tennessee’s eight high school football state championships officially are called the BlueCross Bowl — but it could just as easily be called Rematch Weekend.
Of the eight title games starting today, four involve teams that have played each other at some point in the not-too-distant past.
Possibly the most compelling rematch is the most recent one, as Ensworth (12-0) aims for its third straight crown and its 21st straight win against Memphis University School in the Division II-AA final. The Tigers defeated MUS (10-2) 35-28 on Aug. 17 — nearly 16 weeks ago.
Since that game, Ensworth has tightened the screws defensively, allowing two touchdowns or more on just three occasions and holding seven opponents to less than 10 points. Falling into the latter category are both the Tigers’ playoff foes, McCallie and MBA, each of whom managed just seven points in double-digit losses.
MUS, meanwhile, has been an offensive juggernaut. The Owls have scored 33 or more points in all but two of their last 11 games and have hit the 40-point mark in four of their last five games — including a 46-45 comeback win against Brentwood Academy in the DII-AA semifinals.
Ensworth should come closer to replicating its defensive effort than MUS does to continuing its offensive production. Ensworth 37, MUS 28.
Columbia (12-2) vs. Beech (14-0): These two teams met in the Class 5A final in 2009, with Beech grabbing a 47-33 decision for its first state title. Columbia returned to the final in 2010 and won, aided by some sophomores that are seniors on this Lions squad. After dropping to 6-2 with a 24-7 loss to Baylor in Week Eight, Columbia has clicked off six straight wins and averaged 36.7 points over that span.
Beech, meanwhile, has given up some points at times but has scored more — nearly four touchdowns more, on average. The Buccaneers have scored a season-high 64 points twice this season, hitting that mark in the opening round of the playoffs and again in last week’s semifinal win over Northeast.
Beech’s offense forces foes to try to match their scores, and foes haven’t had a lot of success doing so. Columbia probably won’t, either. Beech 35, Columbia 31.
Maryville (14-0) vs. Whitehaven (14-0): This is another championship game rematch — Maryville defeated the Tigers 23-7 in last year’s Class 6A final, and the Rebels are back after replacing senior quarterback Patton Robinette with Nick Myers. All Myers has done is lead Maryville to an average winning margin of 24 points over an undefeated season and spearhead an offense that has scored at least 21 points in every game. With Myers under center, the Rebels have scored 38 or more points in every game except their 21-3 win over Bearden in Week Six.
Whitehaven, meanwhile, has held 11 of its 14 opponents to seven points or less, with five shutouts. Linebacker Adam Collins and safety Darius Sims have led the Tigers’ defensive unit.
With 13 state championships — including the last two in 6A — Maryville is tough to pick against. Maryville 28-26.
CAK (13-1) vs. Milan (12-2): Another reprise of a 2011 title-game matchup occurs in Class 3A, as CAK downed the Bulldogs 49-14 last fall behind then-Mr. Football Charlie High, who threw for all seven of the Warriors’ touchdowns. High returns, and so do nine other offensive starters for CAK. The team’s only loss was to district rival Alcoa in the regular-season finale, and that defeat was avenged three weeks later in the quarterfinals.
Milan, meanwhile, features 10 senior starters on each side of the ball — including RB/LB Arkel Coleman, who recorded a stunning 47 carries (for 231 yards) in the team’s 16-8 semifinal win at CPA.
Despite the sense of urgency surrounding the Bulldogs, overcoming CAK’s air-strike attack will be a tough order. CAK 34-22.
Friendship (12-1) vs. Adamsville (12-1): Coming off a 2A championship, Friendship is back in the final again behind junior QB A.J. Long (3,010 offensive yards, 43 total TDs) and OG/LB Tanner Martin (62 tackles, one interception), a Mr. Football finalist. The Commanders’ only loss came at Region 4-A rival Gordonsville, a 28-21 decision in Week Two. Adamsville takes a 12-game winning streak into the title game behind RB Zak Neary (959 rushing yards, 11 TDs). Friendship 31-20.
Gordonsville (12-1) vs. Huntingdon (11-2): After losing to neighboring rival Smith County 28-27 in the season opener, Gordonsville has won 12 straight and looks to close out the year with its first state title since 1984. Huntingdon, led by Class A Mr. Football winner Jacob Warbritton, is playing for its first championship since 2003. Both teams are making their first 1A title game appearance. Gordonsville 27-21.
Fulton (12-2) vs. Covington (14-0): Since losing to Alcoa in Week Nine, Fulton has put together an impressive offensive display paced by junior RB Daryl Rollins (2,258 yards, 30 TDs). The Falcons have scored 49.6 points in their last five games, including a 41-27 semifinal win at Giles County as Rollins rushed for 300-plus yards and three TDs of 50 or more yards. Covington is led by Mr. Football finalist Johnston White (2,607 yards, 41 TDs). Fulton 37-24.
Knoxville Webb (10-1) vs. ECS (6-6): Webb features a three-pronged running attack of Todd Kelly, Aaron Blance and Robby Strachan, with the trio combining for 2,439 yards and 40 TDs. The Spartans haven’t lost since suffering a 14-7 season-opening defeat against Alcoa. ECS battled inexperience and injuries through the early going but knocked off defending DII-A champ St. George’s in overtime to reach the finals. Webb 35-21.
Last week: 9-3, .750.
Season: 636-203, .758.