When the TSSAA released the football playoff brackets for its Division I schools, Chester County head coach Michael Hodum was busy.
After completing his fourth regular season as Chester County’s head coach, Hodum was packing up his family’s home in Jackson and moving their belongings to Henderson.
“The people of Chester County told me they wouldn’t let me move to town until we won a district championship,” Hodum said jokingly.
Hodum’s Eagles made history Friday when they clinched their first-ever district championship. That bit of history for the program will lead to another historic moment this week when the Eagles host a playoff game for the first time.
Their reward as the No. 4 seed in Quad 4 of Class 4A is the fifth-seeded North Side Indians at 9-1.
“I’m tickled we’re in the playoffs and hosting a playoff game,” Hodum said. “But if you think about it, them putting us against each other in the first round is unfair to both teams.
“It’s hard for me to believe North Side at 9-1 should be playing on the road to start the playoffs. And we’re playing a 9-1 team as a district champion when the team that finished behind us in the district is playing a 5-5 team. I know that’s simply the system we’re in right now, but it’s easy to see why most people are glad the system is gone after this year.”
This is the final year the TSSAA is using the Z Plan to determine Division I playoff pairings. After the top 32 teams are determined in each classification based on district winners and runners-up, they are divided into four quads of eight teams (six teams in Classes 1A and 2A) based solely on geography with the eastern-most eight teams in Quad 1 and the western-most eight teams in Quad 4. The dividing line between Quad 3 and Quad 4 runs between Chester County and Lexington.
The Tigers are the No. 3 seed in Quad 3 hosting Spring Hill next week.
“If it were up to me, I think Lexington, Liberty and us are close enough geographically that if they need one of us for Quad 3, Liberty should probably be the one to go so they can be the No. 1 seed as a district champion with an 8-2 record,” Hodum said.
Instead, Liberty is in Quad 4 as the No. 3 seed hosting No. 6 Dyersburg, the District 13-AA runner-up.
Crockett County took the top seed and will host Raleigh-Egypt. Trezevant is seeded second and will host Craigmont.
North Side head coach Tab Vowell said he’s looking forward to the matchup in Henderson for a number of reasons.
“Chester County has a good team, and it will be a good game to play,” Vowell said. “Coach Hodum won a lot of games while he was at Trinity Christian, and he’s done a good job with Chester County so far.
“Plus with them having [offensive coordinator and former North Side assistant] Jason McCauley means they will have a good offensive team on the field.”
In Class 3A, Camden picked up the top seed in Quad 4 after it won District 11-AA.
“We knew going in if Waverly lost and we won we’d get the championship, and fortunately everything happened that needed to,” said Camden coach William Blow. “We’ve got the top seed, and it’s got to make us feel good to play at home as long as we’re in the playoffs until we get to the championship because we always seem to play well at home.”
Camden’s opponent next week will be an opponent it’s already seen this year from Lewis County. It’s a reverse situation from last year when Lewis County pounded Camden in the season last year before they met again in the playoffs. Camden lost but played a better game when they met again in the playoffs with Lewis County still coming out on top.
“It’s hard to beat the same team twice in the same season,” Blow said. “Because they should know you as well as you know them, if not better because the losing team a lot of the time will come away from that game learning a lesson or two.”
If Camden wins, it will meet the winner of another rematch as Milan travels to Westview. The two met in Week 4 with the Chargers coming back from a 14-0 halftime deficit to win 15-14. That was also the night Milan lost starting quarterback Marshall Harrison.
There are seven teams from rural West Tennessee that qualified for the 2A playoffs.
Three of them – Adamsville, McKenzie and Trinity Christian Academy – have byes to the second round.
TCA will play the winner of Huntingdon and Peabody after they meet in Trenton this week.
McKenzie will play the winner of Booker T. Washington and Carver.
Adamsville will play the winner of Riverside and Forrest, and they will play at Forrest this week.
Mt. Pleasant is the No. 2 seed in Quad 3 and will play the winner of Loretto and Scotts Hilll, who is making its first-ever playoff appearance.
“It was a relief to look at the bracket and actually see your team’s name on the bracket the TSSAA releases, because until then you never know for sure if you make it or not,” said Scotts Hill coach Michael Stroup, who also said he’s coached against Loretto once when he was an assistant coach at Adamsville. “I’m not really sure yet how to get there, but I plan to figure it out by next Friday.”
In Class 1A, undefeated Union City is the top seed in Quad 4, while Bruceton – who won one game two years ago – is the No. 2 seed with a first-round bye.
The Tigers will play the winner of South Fulton and Lake County.
Humboldt and Dresden are playing each other for the third time in four years in the playoffs.
“Apparently Dresden got a big win a few years back when they later went on to the championship game,” said first-year head coach Derek Rang. “Then they came back and returned the favor last year.
“Both games were good games, and both teams are good teams that should give each other a great game next week. I’ve seen Humboldt a couple times on film, and I’ve seen enough to film on them to know how athletic they are.
“It should be a good challenge. Which every playoff game should be because there’s a reason every team that makes the playoffs does it. They’ve won enough games, and they were good enough to win it. Hopefully our guys will match the intensity of the playoffs from the practices to the game on Friday.”
Division II-A Playoffs
University School of Jackson and the rest of Division II aren’t subjected to the Z Plan, so the Bruins needed to finish in the top three of the district to make the postseason.
They finished second behind St. George’s and will host Davidson Academy on Friday.
Brandon Shields, 425-9751
Get the complete TSSAA football brackets on C2.