Seven Midstate football teams will attempt to bring home state championship trophies when the BlueCross Bowl kicks off Thursday at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.
Of the eight state championship games in the two divisions, six of those will have Midstate representation, including both teams in the DII-AA title match (MBA vs. Brentwood Academy, Thursday 7 p.m.).
This is the second time since Division I was expanded to six classifications in 2009 that the Midstate has had representation in as many as six of the championship games (2013) and the seven teams involved in state title games is the most for the Midstate since the expansion. There were six in 2010, 2013 and 2014.
“I think reclassification had a lot to do with it,” said Independence coach Scott Blade, whose Eagles are in the 5A state championship game (vs. Sevier County, Friday, 7 p.m.) for the first time since their initial appearance in 2007. “If we were still in 6A, obviously two Williamson County teams couldn’t have gone. It would have either been us or Ravenwood, or whoever. Sevier County was in 6A and in the same bracket as Maryville (before reclassification). I think this is great for the Midstate.”
Rematches and potential repeats are also a theme at the 2015 BlueCross Bowl. There are two rematches from last year’s games — Ravenwood vs. Maryville in the 6A title game (Maryville won 35-34 last season) and CPA vs. Alcoa in the 3A championship (CPA won 7-0 last season).
MBA also will be attempting a repeat title after shutting down Ensworth in last year’s title match. That broke a string of four consecutive DII-AA state titles for Ensworth.
With at least one Midstate team guaranteed of a state title (DII-AA), the area has a shot at six championships in 2015. Since 2009 the area has claimed four state titles twice (2011, 2012). There were five teams in five BlueCross matchups in 2011, with Ensworth (DII-AA), Wayne County (1A), Friendship Christian (2A) and Henry County (5A) winning titles. Only Maplewood (4A) lost in a title game that season.
For Nashville Christian, it is an opportunity for the school’s first team state championship in any sport.
“I think it is a collaboration of things, especially talent in the Midstate,” said NCS coach Jeff Brothers. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily a trend. These things have highs and lows. But, right now the Midstate is very strong.”
In 2012 there were five Midstate teams involved in four BlueCross matchups, with locals sweeping their respective contests (Columbia and Beech played each other in the 5A title game). Friendship Christian (2A), Ensworth (DII-AA) and Goodpasture (1A) all won that season.
Out of the six Midstate teams involved in five title games last season, CPA and MBA were the only winners.
The Midstate hasn’t won a 6A title game since the classification was formed. A good reason for that is the dominance of Maryville, which has won all but two of the 6A state titles since 2009. White Station defeated Maryville 37-27 in 2009, and Whitehaven defeated the Rebels 36-35 in overtime on a 2-point conversion to end the 2012 game.
Of Midstate teams, Ensworth has been to the most state title games since 2009 (5), followed by Giles County, Columbia, MBA and CPA with three each.
BLUECROSS BOWL MATCHUPS
At Tennessee Tech, Cookeville
DII-A: St. George’s (12-1) vs. Northpoint Christian (13-0), 3 p.m.
DII-AA: Brentwood Academy (11-1) vs. MBA (11-1), 7 p.m.
1A: Nashville Christian (13-1) vs. Greenback (12-2), 11 a.m.
3A: CPA (13-1) vs. Alcoa (13-1), 3 p.m.
5A: Independence (14-0) vs. Sevier County (12-2), 7 p.m.
2A: Marion County (13-1) vs. Trezevant (11-3), 11 a.m.
4A: Knoxville Catholic (10-4) vs. Pearl-Cohn (10-4), 3 p.m.
6A: Ravenwood (13-1) vs. Maryville (14-0), 7 p.m.