CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Clarksville Academy didn’t want its regular season to end in the fashion that it did, but the Cougars came out of that 52-14 District 10-A football loss to Nashville Christian last Friday relatively unscathed as they turn their attention to more pressing matters.
Coach Todd Hood has now guided his team to its fifth straight Class A playoffs, and the one common theme that Hood and his Cougars have noticed all five times is just how difficult the playoff road has been from the first game.
Clarksville Academy is the fifth seed in the Class A playoffs and travels to face fourth-seed Huntland at 7 p.m. Friday night. The Hornets are 8-2 on the season and have won seven of their last eight games. Huntland’s seven-game win streak was snapped against Middle Tennessee Christian last week.
“I guess we’re used to that,” Hood said. “Our quadrant is one of the toughest from top to bottom in the state. We’ve got the No. 2 ranked team and No. 3 ranked team and I think the sixth and ninth-ranked teams. There’s also two undefeated teams in our quad so it’s always tough when you get to the postseason. But we’ve always known that. We don’t complain. You’re going to have to play great teams to advance in the playoffs anyway.”
The Cougars were also enjoying a win streak before second-ranked Nashville Christian ran off 36 straight points while dominating the second half in last Friday’s District 10-A regular season title game. It was a performance worthy of the Eagles’ lofty state ranking but the Cougars showed some grit.
Clarksville Academy played toe-to-toe with the Class A power for much of the first half. The Cougars trailed by only 10 points, 24-14, at halftime before Nashville Christian ran away with the game in the second half. Quarterback Michael Conn was particularly effective running the zone read option against the Eagles’ aggressive front seven.
“I thought our coaches had a great gameplan against Nashville Christian,” Hood said. “But there’s just no margin for error in those kinds of games, against that kind of team. We’ve tried to tell our team when you get into the playoffs, its a different type of game. Everything speeds up so they can expect a game (Friday against Huntland) that is as intense as last week’s game.”
Meanwhile, the Cougars’ leading rusher, Jaleel Stubbs, had a rare off night as Nashville Christian keyed on the senior tailback. Stubbs finished with just 15 yards on nine carries. He did, however, have a 99-yard kickoff return for a score that stunned that Eagles crowd in Nashville.
Both Conn and Stubbs will, again, be the focal point Friday night but Hood had success throwing the ball against Nashville Christian and Huntland is likely to get a dose of that as well.
“We run the ball because we love to,” Hood said. “We throw it because we have to. We’ll only throw it about 10 or 12 times at the most and Michael has about 15 touchdowns passing the ball and 26 total. He only has like six picks so he knows our offense and knows where the ball needs to be.”
Huntland has been a scoring machine this season. The Hornets haven’t failed to score at least 21 points in any game this season and were averaging 40.7 points a game during their seven game win streak. Huntland runs the Wing-T offense and puts several players in motion to take advantage of mismatches.
“They shift a lot to try to get you out of position,” Hood said. “They are a good, physical team and well coached. We’ve got play excellent football Friday to beat them but if we do things the right way, we can play with anybody.”
George Robinson. Prep writer. 245-0747. firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Facebook and Twitter: @Cville_Sports.
CLASS A PLAYOFFS
Clarksville Academy vs. Huntland
When: Friday, Time: 7 p.m.
Records: Cougars (7-3), Hornets (8-2).