Hampton faces a team it lost to in last year’s playoffs while Cloudland meets a team it defeated.
Despite that difference, both teams head into their contests with confidence.
“If you ask our kids, they’re not cocky, but I think they think we’ve got a chance,” said Hampton head coach Mike Lunsford, whose team will play host to Chattanooga’s Silverdale Baptist Academy in the second round of the TSSAA Class 2A playoffs tonight. “They’re working for that purpose.”
Meanwhile, Cloudland will play host to Midway in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs.
“They are a lot like us,” said Cloudland head coach Brock Pittman. “They’ve got a lot of the same players back, and they’ve gotten better. We feel like we can match up pretty good, but we know we can’t make mistakes.”
Both games are scheduled for a 7 o’clock kickoff.
In a Class 3A contest, Johnson County hits the road to battle Christian Academy of Knoxville.
Silverdale Baptist (10-1) at Hampton (7-3) — Last year the Bulldogs had three players suspended the night before the game — including their starting quarterback — and they were unable to compete with the Seahawks in a 41-8 whipping.
“I hope we go into this one with all of our players,” said Lunsford. “I don’t know if it will make a difference, but the mental approach will be better if nothing else.”
Lunsford said Silverdale is very solid offensively.
“They can do anything,” he said. “Misdirection, they do real well. They will run some bootlegs, and if our ends are not smart and don’t stay home, they will probably score.
“They execute their offense so well. They aren’t a spectacular looking team, but they are a team that doesn’t make mistakes and they execute.”
Silverdale’s main man is senior running back Josh Rogers. He has totaled 1,529 yards with 20 touchdowns. On the ground has 1,088 yards and 12 scores.
Defensively, Rogers has 125 total tackles to go along with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Yes, he’s around the ball.
Senior defensive lineman Lincoln Phillips has 18 tackles for loss.
When Hampton has the ball, Lunsford said his team will have to block well and give the quarterback time.
“We have to be able to at least give him time to find the open receiver,” said Lunsford. “If we do that, we can stay in the game.”
Midway (8-3) at Cloudland (9-1) — Like any team facing the Green Wave, defending quarterback Shandon Lyle is the biggest challenge.
“Their quarterback is obviously their guy,” said Pittman. “He can really throw it and run, make people miss, and break tackles.
“And they have tons of speed with athletes everywhere. They remind me of us. They’re not overly big, but they are athletic and fast.”
Cloudland defeated Midway 28-12 in the first round of last year’s playoffs, and repeating that performance will require the basics, said Pittman.
“We’ve got to stay on our blocks,” he said. “But the main thing we have to do is protect the football.”
Cloudland is led by quarterback Austin Whitehead, running back Colby Birchfield and linebacker Mason Carnett.
A bye week followed the Highlanders lone loss of the season, and head coach Brock Pittman said it was good for his team.
“We had a little bit of fun, and tried to get preparation for the playoffs,” said Pittman. “I think the community is excited to host a playoff game for the second year in a row. I think home field is always an advantage, no matter if it’s playoffs or not.”
Johnson County (5-6) at CAK (5-6) — It’s a simple challenge in terms of understanding it. Executing and defeating it is another story.
The Longhorns brace for an air assault against the Warriors, who despite their current record are still the two-time defending Class 3A state champions.
“They throw it around like crazy,” said Longhorns’ head coach Mike Atwood. “They can run it, but they throw at least 60 percent of the time.”
Atwood said it’s good his team faced pass-happy Sullivan South recently, but also the Longhorns struggled against the Rebels.
“It helped us, but the bad news is they threw for six TDs,” said Atwood. “But they had two on fourth down, and one on third down when we thought we had them stopped.
“We’re prepared for anything. We’ve seen it before. We know it will be a tough game. They’ve got great athletes, and I think they are jelling at the right time. But I don’t think we will be intimidated.”
Freshman Cole Smith has taken over at quarterback and has completed 97 of 150 passes (65 percent) for 1,082 yards and 13 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Senior Drew Jost has rushed for 1,101 yards and 17 scores.
Johnson County will counter CAK’s attack with a hard dose of pound it on the ground, led by Patrick South and Jordan Grubb.
“We will just run it, and try to keep them off the field,” said Atwood. “That will be our best chance to win.”