Kreager: Some of state's best still on display in county tonight

Kreager: Some of state's best still on display in county tonight

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Kreager: Some of state's best still on display in county tonight

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MURFREESBORO

After tonight, one District 7-AAA football team will remain in the TSSAA playoffs.

It’s a shame that it must end this way.

The top three of the final eight high school football teams in the 6A playoff bracket are on the East side.

Tonight’s Blackman-Oakland winner will likely play at Maryville next week in the TSSAA semifinals.

Is it me or does that make today’s quarterfinal at Ray Hughes Stadium more of a state semifinal?

I truly believe whoever wins next Friday’s semifinal in the East bracket will be at least a three-touchdown favorite to bring home gold.

I’ve seen three of the four teams left in the West.

I watched Blackman dismantle Independence and Oakland smash White Station in person. I saw Hendersonville on TV and wasn’t impressed. The only one I haven’t seen is Memphis Central.

All I need to know is that the remaining four teams left in the West have a combined 14 losses.

The East have three losses and there are two undefeated teams in that bracket.

It doesn’t sound fair does it?

But it’s the system we have.

Truth be told, all season there have really been about three or four teams talented enough to win the 6A championship. Oakland and Blackman are two of the four. Maryville is also on that list.

We in Rutherford County like to think of District 7-AAA as the SEC of Tennessee high school football. And it likely is. Put any team in the state (including perennial power Maryville) in this league and see how it does year to year.

Sure, George Quarles’ squad may still win as many championships.

But then the Maryville faithful will understand the path it takes to get to Cookeville.

However, it has been since 2008 since a Rutherford County won a state football championship.

That drought looms over those remaining in the playoffs from the county.

So what will happen at Oakland tonight?

One would guess it will be a game of defensive plays.

The Patriots’ defense held Siegel’s electrifying offense to 64 yards a week ago. Oakland is giving up 166.7 yards a game on defense and held Blackman to 154 yards in their first meeting. Oakland is yielding 8.2 points a game.

When you have a defensive line, set of linebackers and a secondary like the Patriots have in 2013, it becomes much easier to play dominant football on defense. And Oakland will have to play dominant football tonight against the Blaze.

You see, Blackman coach Philip Shadowens’ squad doesn’t trail Oakland much in regard to overall talent as well as talent on defense.

Linebacker Austin Mosier is healthy again. And the Blaze secondary is often overlooked.

Perhaps the biggest question is how will the weather change the game.

All week the weather man has called for rain. Will it neutralize Blackman’s offense, which at times has been much more dynamic than the Patriots? Will it be a game full of turnovers due to the wet conditions?

We’ll find out tonight.

Kreager’s pick: Oakland 14, Blackman 10

Adamsville at Eagleville

Eagleville faces an Adamsville team that is huge up front. On a night where field conditions likely will dictate the style of play, that may be a big benefit for the Cardinals.

Eagleville’s first Mr. Football finalist Chris Hale is approaching 2,000 yards for the season, needing just 30 yards to hit that mark.

He will need that and much more tonight.

Kreager’s pick: Adamsville 28, Eagleville 24

Last week: 3-0. Season: 68-14 (83 percent).

Contact Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 or tkreager@dnj.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.

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