MURFREESBORO – Rutherford County football fans’ only opportunity to see all seven District 7-AAA teams at once came and went last night at Smyrna High.
With the start of Week 0 just four days away, here are five key observations I saw from the sidelines and the press box on Friday night and what I think it means for the regular season.
Recap: Oakland routs Mt. Juliet
Recap:: Riverdale, Smyrna tie
Recap: Siegel speed past La Vergne
Starters play longer
With the biggest game of its season one week from today on ESPN2, Oakland and Blackman could not afford to get anybody hurt in what amounted to a meaningless preseason game but that threat didn’t keep either head coach from playing his starters into the second quarter of each respective contest.
Blackman coach Philip Shadowens told The Daily News Journal the long layoff between his team’s games – nine days – was why he wanted his starters to play a little longer.
Oakland defensive back JaCoby Stevens said the thought process was basically the same for the Patriots.
My takeaway: Team chemistry in Week 0 was more important than the threat of any potential injury to both sides, which was a welcome site for me.
Rutherford County Football Jamboree Friday, August 15, 2014 at Smyrna High School.
Quarterback question marks
La Vergne and Smyrna don’t have quarterback battles, as junior Drew Howard is the Wolverines starter and sophomore John Turner will start for the Bulldogs. But both teams will go through some growing pains as their quarterbacks gain experience and it evident at times on Friday.
Oakland junior Christian Haffner started but sophomore Cody Miller rotated in and out throughout the game. Both players threw touchdowns and neither made any horrendous mistakes. Coach Thomas McDaniel said afterward he’ll plan on using both quarterbacks during the season.
Siegel junior Jordan Middleton demonstrated a strong command of the Stars’ attack and even played through a nasty gash on his arm that resulted in a visit to the hospital and 13 stitches by night’s end. But freshman John Ross Langworthy showed his arm strength on a 70-yard touchdown bomb to Deante Miller.
Riverdale senior Cortland Owens started and coach Ron Aydelott said the senior is his starter for now. But sophomore Preston Barge also played. Neither played phenomenal but neither looked bad either.
My takeaway: Expect at least two quarterbacks to play at some point for as many as five 7-AAA teams in 2014.
Stewarts Creek looks better
The Red Hawks showed drastic improvements from year one to year two under second-year coach David Martin, especially the team’s starters.
But while Creek is improved, the second-year school still lacks considerable depth to its roster. Keeping its top players healthy for an 11-week regular season is critical for success.
My takeaway: The record will be better but I don’t know much the Red Hawks will climb the brutally-tough standings in District 7-AAA.
Williams provides spark for Smyrna
Ddefensive back D.J. Williams played much of the second quarter for the Bulldogs at quarterback in relief of Turner.
Running a Wildcat-type package, Williams orchestrated the team’s only touchdown drive and kept Riverdale’s No. 2 defense on its heels.
My takeaway: Maybe it was because it wasn’t Riverdale’s No. 1 defense, but Smyrna’s offense looked to be noticeably smoother with Williams at the helm.
Oakland, Blackman above rest
Not that this observation really took a lot of watching, but if you were there you saw it too. It was clear who the best two teams in 7-AAA were on Friday night.
So much so that I overheard one fan say, “Look at Oakland. They’re a college team.”
My takeaway: Can next Sunday just hurry up and get here so we can settle this thing already?
Contact Will Borthick at 615-278-5167 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @willborthick.
Week 0 Schedule
(All games at 7 p.m. unless noted)
La Vergne at Smyrna*
Riverdale at Siegel*
Ravenwood at Stewarts Creek
MTCS at Cannon Co.**
Mt. Pleasant at Eagleville
Monroe Acad., Ala. vs. Lancaster Chr. at Smyrna Middle, 6 p.m.
Oakland at Blackman, 11 a.m.***
*WGNS (1450-AM, 100.5-FM, 101.9-FM)
**WBRY (1540-AM, 96.7-FM)
***ESPN2, WGNS (1450-AM, 100.5-FM, 101.9-FM)