Coach Ingle Martin and Christ Presbyterian Academy lost to Alcoa in the 2013 Class 3A state championship game before beating Gary Rankin and the Tornadoes in last year’s final.
The tie will be broken Friday in Cookeville when the two teams meet for the third consecutive state title game.
Martin and the Lions ensured that matchup with a 21-0 win over visiting Liberty Technological Magnet School in the 3A state semifinal game Friday.
“I hope the two of us keep coaching and this isn’t the rubber match,” Martin said. “To be there three years in a row is pretty rare. I hope we don’t lose sight of how special it is to keep playing.”
Both teams struggled to find their groove on offense, but CPA (13-1) settled in in the second quarter, capitalizing on a 55-yard connection between senior quarterback Zack Weatherly and classmate Price Perdue.
Perdue led the way for the Lions, reeling in seven receptions for 104 yards and a score.
The Lions scored again less than four minutes later on a 64-yard punt return by senior Wallace Barrett to secure a 14-0 lead heading into halftime.
“It was pretty special,” Barrett said. “The awesome part was coming around the edge and seeing my teammates coming to block for me.”
Liberty (13-1) came out of the locker room and had to punt on a quick three-and-out on its first drive of the second half.
The CPA defense shut down the Crusaders on their next two drives.
On their ensuing two possessions, Liberty combined to run 16 plays, but both possessions ended the same way, with junior Crusader quarterback Corey Newble being intercepted.
Liberty was forced to resort to a heavy pass attack for the rest of the game, but Newble had trouble connecting with his receivers. He finished with 118 yards and two interceptions on 13-of-34 passing.
“That was a tough defense,” Newble said. “I think we could have gotten it done had we executed the way we should have.”
Reach Sam Brown at 615-259-8232 and on Twitter @SamBrownTN.