Blaze, Stars stage opening showdown tonight

Blaze, Stars stage opening showdown tonight

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Blaze, Stars stage opening showdown tonight

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MURFREESBORO

As far as District 7-AAA football games go, it would be hard to match it.

Blackman travels to Siegel’s Ken Nolan Stadium for a 7 p.m. contest today in a showdown between two of the three preseason favorites. It is one of four games today involving area teams.

Stewarts Creek opens its inaugural season at Ravenwood. Cannon County plays at Middle Tennessee Christian School’s Throneberry Stadium. Eagleville plays at Mt. Pleasant.

All games are at 7 p.m.

No area game is bigger than the Blackman-Siegel district showdown.

“All district games are pretty big,” Siegel coach Greg Wyant said. “This is pretty big right off the bat. We’re the underdog, and we probably should be the underdog. We graduated 31 seniors last year.”

Siegel defeated Blackman twice in 2012 en route to its best season in school history. Siegel defeated Blackman 42-7 in Week 2 and 40-10 in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.

Siegel lost several key pieces from its state semifinalist including quarterback Brent Stockstill, receiver Tae Martin and three of their four members of the Stars’ defensive line. But Blackman coach Philip Shadowens said the Stars will remain one of the top teams in Class 6A this season.

“They still have quite a few returners,” Shadowens said. “They have a good quarterback in Dakota Crane. They still have good backs and receivers. Those guys learned a lot from the guys they had last year.

“They are one of the top five teams in the state. It should be a real good football game.”

Siegel running back Denzel Harding leads those returning. Harding rushed for a District 7-AAA best 1,288 yards and scored 29 total touchdowns. Dominique Gooch leads the receiving corps. He caught 30 passes for 549 yards as a junior. The Stars also return the top kicker in the district in Harrison Reed, a two-time District 7-AAA.

Blackman also returns a 1,000-yard rusher in Cole Notgrass, who rushed for 1,024 yards in 2012. Fullback/linebacker Antonio Allen also returns. He is the reigning District 7-AAA Defensive MVP. Junior Jauan Jennings is a first-year quarterback for the Blaze, but will also play free safety. Receiver Styles Corder is his top receiver returning after catching 11 passes for 217 yards.

Both MTCS and Cannon County are searching for their first win since the 2011 season. It will be the debut for Cannon County first-year coach T.J. Daniel. MTCS third-year coach Brian Stewart was pleased with the Cougars’ performance in the preseason.

“We have to show up and play like we are capable of playing,” Stewart said. “We’ve been able to move the ball very efficiently.”

Eagleville faces a Mt. Pleasant team that is the favorite in District 11-A. The Tigers return receiver Ren’Yores Smith, who caught 70 passes for 1,201 yards. Sophomore Walter Crawford threw for 837 yards a year ago. He played in the final five games of the season. Spring Hill move-in Rodney Harvell will start at running back after rushing for 680 yards a year ago for the Raiders.

The Eagles are led by quarterback Ryan Jordan and running back Chris Hale. Jordan threw for more than 2,000 yards with 23 touchdown passes. Hale has 2,430 career rushing yards.

Stewarts Creek coach David Martin said the Red Hawks this season are focused on only themselves as they go through their first varsity season.

“We want to improve weekly,” Martin said. “We’re competing against ourselves. I’m not worried about anyone else.

“I’m thrilled with what we’ve done. We haven’t been as consistent as we would like. There are spurts where we look like we can play. It’s just a matter of consistency.”

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