Pearl-Cohn coach Tony Brunetti gives instructions during Saturday’s game against Hillsboro.
Hillsboro coach Craig Clayton looks on during Saturday’s game against Pearl-Cohn.
Hillsbro running back Barrion Claybrooks picks up some first-half running room during Saturday’s game against Hillsboro.
Hillsboro running back Barrion Claybrooks finds some first-half running room during Saturday’s game against Hillsboro.
Five takeaways from Pearl-Cohn’s 9-7 win over Hillsboro on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium:
Week1: High school football recap
The Tennessean’s Katie Myers and high school sports coordinator Tom Kreager recaps the first week of the Tennessee high school football season.
Centennial rallies past Franklin
Centennial football rallies past Franklin
East Nashville late score drop Rossview
Demarquez Trotter ran back a failed Rossview field goal to help the Eagles beat the Hawks 21-14 in the closing seconds Friday night to open the high school season.
Trinity tops Ensworth 14-7
Ensworth suffered a 14-7 seasom-opening defeat to nationally-ranked Trinity (Ky.) on Friday
Dickson County vs. Creek Wood
Highlights from the Dickson County vs. Creek Wood game August 19. The Red Hawks came away with a 30-26 win.
Gallatin football at Mt. Juliet
Footage and interviews from Friday’s season opener between Gallatin and Mt. Juliet.
Hewitt-Trussville 33, Montgomery Bell Academy 24
MBA lost 33-24 to Hewitt-Trussville of Alabama in the 2016 season opener.
Seaon opener – Centennial at Franklin pregame
High school football season opener between Centennial and Franklin
Pregame festivities at Ensworth School
Pregame festivities at Ensworth prior to the Tigers’ season-opening game against nationally-ranked Trinity (Ky.)
East Nashville-Rossview Pregame
East Nashville and Rossview take part in pre game warmups prior to the startif the 2016 prep football season Friday at TPS Complex
Pregame: La Vergne at Smyrna
Students for Smyrna and La Vergne prepare for the big rivalry
Dickson County vs. Creek Wood pregame
Sights and sounds from the pregame festivities leading up to Dickson County vs. Creek Wood
Springfield opens season with Greenbrier
Springfield plays Greenbrier on Friday night
Gallatin at Mt. Juliet football pregame
Pregame video prior to Friday’s game between Gallatin and Mt. Juliet.
White House student body
White House fans prep for the White House Heritage game.
Ravenwood fan Eric Mills ready for season
Ravenwood fan Eric Mills talks about the start of football season.
Baylor Bramble attends Siegel’s season opener
Siegel linebacker Dalton Frantz and Coach Greg Wyant discuss seeing Baylor Bramble at their season opener.
High school football countdown
High school sports writers for the USA Today Sports network for Middle Tennessee discuss the games they are covering Week 1.
Pearl-Cohn quarterback Xavier Shepherd escapes pressure from Hillsboro’s Joseph Honeysucker during the first half of Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt Stadium.
Defensive struggle: In a game that featured 59 points a season ago, this year’s edition was a defensive struggle as Pearl-Cohn and Hillsboro combined to score a mere 16 on Saturday.
In fact, Pearl-Cohn’s offense, which averaged more than 33 points per game in 2015, was kept out of the end zone altogether despite reaching the red zone on three different occasions.
“Defense did a terrific job,” Hillsboro senior defensive lineman Ben Hutch said. “We handled everything. They were in the red zone plenty of times and we stopped them. Our offense just needs to have that same motor as the defense.”
Hillsboro, meanwhile, which committed five turnovers in the loss, managed its only score in the game’s opening minutes as senior JaVonta Payton sprinted 61 yards for a touchdown to tie things up at 7-7 with 8:42 remaining, on the Burros’ second possession.
Game-changer: With both offenses sputtering, Pearl-Cohn relied on its defense to produce the go-ahead score as senior defensive lineman Kenneth Miller dropped a Burros ball carrier in the end zone for a safety with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
“We stepped up in the trenches,” Miller said. “We needed a stop and defense won this game. The offense struggled but you know we’ve got their backs.”
A running affair: While the rainy weather probably had something to do with it, both Pearl-Cohn’s and Hillsboro’s passing attacks were virtually non-existent on Saturday.
Instead, both teams’ primary running backs carried the offensive load.
Hillsboro senior Barrion Claybrooks tallied 112 yards on 14 carries to lead the Burros, while Pearl-Cohn’s Ke’Juan Vaughn ran 18 times for 88 yards.
Hillsboro quarterback Darius Smith threw three interceptions in the losing effort, while Firebirds junior Xavier Shepherd finished 3-for-11 passing for nine yards with an interception.
Return specialist: Saturday marked the second straight game in which Pearl-Cohn’s Jimmyrious Parker has come up with a special teams touchdown.
Parker, who returned a kickoff 91 yards for a score in last year’s Class 4A state title game, produced Pearl-Cohn’s only touchdown of the game, returning a punt 61 yards for a score just minutes into the game.
Tough tests ahead: With Saturday’s game in the rearview, both Pearl-Cohn and Hillsboro face stiff Week 2 competition.
The Firebirds take on Division II-AA foe Montgomery Bell Academy on Friday, while Hillsboro heads to Murfreesboro for a nationally-televised game against Class 6A Oakland.