Maplewood coach Arcentae Broome takes a deep breath when he looks at his football team’s schedule.
“Our schedule is probably harder than 90 percent of the teams in Metro, 90 percent of the teams in the Midstate,” Broome said. “I mean, we’re going to Madison Academy to play the defending (Alabama Class 3A) state championship team. We’re playing Alcoa – they played in the (BlueCross Bowl) last year. CPA played in the (BlueCross Bowl) last year.”
The top six teams on the Panthers’ schedule went 70-10 last year. That’s Madison Academy 15-0, Alcoa 14-1, Christ Presbyterian Academy 14-1, Pearl-Cohn 10-2, East Nashville 9-3 and Lipscomb Academy 8-3.
Madison Academy averaged 41.7 points, including a 62-point outburst in a win over West Morgan, Ala.
Alcoa won the Class 3A title and CPA finished second.
“Our schedule is pretty heavy,” Broome said. “We know what our challenges are, but I think if we come out and do what we’re supposed to do, man, we might be able to surprise some people.”
The other four teams on Maplewood’s schedule went 10-32: Goodpasture 6-6, Hunters Lane 2-8, Stratford 2-8 and Whites Creek 0-10.
That’s an overall record of 80-42 for a .656 winning percentage.
“If we do what we’re supposed to, we should be able to be a couple games over .500,” Broome said. “If we could push a 7-3 or 8-2 we’d be good. We have a lot of big games we’d have to play very well in, but that’s what I would look for.”
The Panthers’ past success makes it difficult to find opponents. Maplewood finished second in 4A in 2011 and 2007, and made it to the semifinals in 2010.
“It’s never by design,” Broome said. “If I could play teams to help boost my record like a lot of other teams around here are doing then I’d do that. Nobody wants to play us for some odd reason, not even the teams in Metro. We have a hard time making a schedule.”
Da’Ronta Nelson (833 rushing yards, five TDs in 2013) hopes to continue a strong tradition of Maplewood running backs. Gage Smith and Jeremy McDowell will help carry the load.
Immanuel Newsom (6-5, 300), who plays both ways at tackle, gives the Panthers some bulk up front.
Broome hopes that his veteran defense will be a strong point.
Maplewood, 4-7 last year, opens up at Hunters Lane on Friday.
“We’re looking forward to trying to right the ship a little this year,” Broome said.