The road to Cookeville begins tonight in Tennessee. In Class 6A, 32 teams start their quest of bringing home a gold ball.
Here is a look at the six favorites — three from the East and three from the West — to win the 6A state title on Dec. 1 at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium.
Dobyns-Bennett has had three consecutive 10-0 regular seasons.
However, the Indians enter tonight’s home game with Bearden (8-2) having lost two straight first-round games.
“It will be a nice test for us,” Dobyns-Bennett coach Graham Clark said. “Probably as far as two seeds, this is the toughest test that you could have.”
The Indians faced adversity early in the season when quarterback Chris Cook suffered a season-ending surgery in their fourth game of the year. Malik Foreman, a recent Vanderbilt commitment went from wide receiver to quarterback after the injury.
“He had played quarterback previously some,” Clark said of Foreman. “He runs well. We’ve got a pretty balanced attack.”
Both Foreman and running back Devon Swafford has rushed for more than 900 yards, Clark said. Running backs Seth Barger and Zach Casey have each rushed for more than 500 yards.
Dobyns-Bennett averaged 54.7 points a game during the regular season. The Indians scored 70 or more points on three different occasions this season. The defense has given up 13.3 points.
Maryville (10-0) enters the postseason on a 34-game win streak and have won back-to-back 6A state titles.
Coach George Quarles broke in a new quarterback in Nick Myers this season. The Rebels didn’t appear to miss a step. Maryville’s offense has averaged 42.2 points a game. The defense has given up 16.1 points.
Myers has 26 touchdown passes and four interceptions. Running backs Shawn Prevo and Trenton Shuler are both over 800 yards, Quarles said.
The offensive line isn’t as big as past years, Quarles said.
“I don’t think we’re quite as big as we’ve been, but we’re not small,” said Quarles, who open the playoffs hosting Hardin Valley (5-5) tonight. “There are no 285-pound kids like we had last year. But we have good high school players there that work pretty well together.”
Quarles said defensively the Rebels had been suspect at giving up the big play. However a couple of changes to the defensive personnel may have fixed that. Shuler is now also playing at corner. And T.J. Kimball, a basketball player that had been playing offense, is also playing defense now.
“The big question mark for our team has been on defense and giving up big plays,” Quarles said. “We’ve given up some big plays at times.”
Siegel (10-0) completed its best regular-season in school history in 2012. However, the Stars have won just one playoff game in school history.
That could change this season.
Siegel’s offense is averaging 41.6 points, while the defense is giving up just 7.5.
The Stars’ lightning-paced offense has made teams attempt to catch their breath early. The Stars, which host Oakland tonight, are averaging an impressive 449.4 yards a game on offense behind the guidance of quarterback Brent Stockstill.
Stockstill is averaging 205.8 yards passing and 62.8 yards rushing. He has 22 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns. Denzel Harding leads the Stars’ running attack with a 7-AAA-best 913 yards and 20 total touchdowns.
But as dominant as Siegel’s offense has been this season, the Stars’ defense has been just as strong. Defensive tackle Jamison Frazier and defensive end John A. Simpson leads the Stars’ defensive line. Linebacker Deionte Ewing has led the linebackers and the secondary, which includes Jace Tyson and Tae Martin has shut down opposing teams’ passing attacks.
Opponents are averaging just 117.1 yards a game in the air.
A seasoned Brentwood squad headlines quadrant three. Offensive lineman Logan Teichmann leads a Bruins’ offensive line has helped produce 3,042 rushing yards in first-year coach Mark Pemberton’s Wing-T offense. Running back Ben Green (120.5 rushing ypg) leads the Bruins attack.
Brentwood (9-1) opens the playoffs against Wilson Central (8-2) in another quality matchup between a second seed and eighth seed.
Brentwood averaged 38.6 points a game this season while averaging more than 406 total yards a game. Quarterbacks Austin Winfree and Aaron Maher split time at quarterback. Winfree threw for 70.3 yards a game
Linebacker Adam Thetford led the Bruins defense with 97 tackles. Brentwood gave up just 10.0 points a game during the regular season.
A year ago, Mt. Juliet (9-1) reached the Class 6A state semifinals before falling to Whitehaven. The Bears have enough firepower to return to that semifinal again this season.
Running backs Contrez McCathern (114.5 rushing ypg) and Caleb Hopkins (83.0 rushing ypg) leads Mt. Juliet coach Roger Perry’s offense.
The passing game is down from a year ago, but quarterback Nolan Chowbay, who is the younger brother of former QB Caleb Chowbay, averages 51.1 yards passing. Mt. Juliet has averaged 36.5 points a game this season while giving up just 13.2 points.
Mt. Juliet opens the playoffs with a home game with Independence (6-4).
Whitehaven (10-0) has made steps in the postseason in recent years. The Tigers reached the Class 6A championship a year ago, falling to Maryville. That came a year after falling to Smyrna in the 6A semifinals.
Ole Miss commitment Mark Dodson leads the Tigers offense. He rushed for 2,013 yards in the regular season behind a huge offensive line. That line includes Vincent Hunter (6-5, 325), Dyllan McKinney (6-4, 320), William Chism (6-2, 270) and Thomas Burton (6-2, 260).
The offense averages 38.3 points while giving up 9.0 points a game.
“Our offense starts up front,” Whitehaven coach Rodney Saulsberry said. “They are very good.”
Whitehaven also has a pair of Vanderbilt commitments in receiver Gerald Perry and defensive back Darius Sims. Quarterback Patrick Smith is a dual-threat.
The Tigers open the playoffs against Collierville (5-5)