As football teams enter preparations for Week 7, the playoff picture is starting to come into focus a little bit.
A lot can happen in the final four games, and upsets can change the postseason course for many teams. With the TSSAA’s statewide system for playoff qualifications, a surprise win in Memphis, Nashville or Chattanooga can knock an area team out — or an upset loss can create a spot for someone in Northeast Tennessee.
So while there are no guarantees at this point, here’s a class-by-class look at the playoff picture:
Class 6A — Maryville and Dobyns-Bennett are currently holding the top two seeds, with Maryville’s schedule currently giving it the slight edge for the No. 1 spot in Quadrant 1.
Sevier County, Knox Karns and Science Hill are sitting in second-place positions in their districts. And since the TSSAA cleared up one big issue by seeding the top two teams from each district before filling out the rest of the quadrant, Sevier County is third, Karns fourth and Science Hill fifth at this time.
Rounding out Quadrant 1 would be Knox Bearden, Jefferson County and Hardin Valley. Farragut would be in Quadrant 2.
Science Hill may have trouble catching Sevier County, but could pass Karns with a strong finish. Barring major upsets, the Hilltoppers will need to beat D-B in their Week 10 head-to-head matchup to get one of the top two seeds.
Class 5A — Morristown West has a firm grasp on the No. 1 seed in Quadrant 1. However, the Trojans have three potentially difficult league games remaining.
Cocke County and Cherokee are currently in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively. Sullivan South, Tennessee High and South-Doyle follow in line.
The final two spots appear to be held by Morristown East and Knox West. However, Daniel Boone and Volunteer are right on the cusp and either could bump Knox West into Quadrant 2.
Class 4A — Greeneville is in good shape to claim the No. 1 seed for Quadrant 1.
Sullivan East’s presence as a playoff team, currently standing as a No. 3 seed, is important for the Greene Devils because it will likely keep Signal Mountain or Red Bank from sneaking into Quadrant 1.
Class 3A — Sullivan North is the lead dog in Quadrant 1, and the Raiders stand an excellent chance of holding on to that spot because of their remaining schedule. Eight wins might be enough to secure the top spot, and North already has seven.
Chuckey-Doak holds the No. 2 spot and Gatlinburg-Pittman is currently No. 3. Positions four through eight are currently held by Elizabethton, West Greene, Pigeon Forge, South Greene and Happy Valley.
Five wins appears to be the magic number, although there are three or four current two-win teams across the state that could fog up the picture.
If the current list of eight teams reaches the playoffs, Austin-East would be pushed into Quadrant 2 with powers like Christian Academy of Knoxville and Alcoa.
Class 2A — Hampton is in very good position to claim the No. 1 seed in Quadrant 1.
Unaka definitely needs a third win to have a shot, and may need four victories to slide into the postseason.
n Stat chat: Greeneville kicker Ben Ogle’s 57-yard field goal bomb in Friday’s 46-7 rout of West Greene is tied for the sixth longest in Tennessee history.
Franklin County’s Jeff Hall, who went on to kick at the University of Tennessee, authored two 62-yard field goals in his high school career. One came in 1991 and the other in 1992.
Also on the thunder-foot list are Brentwood Academy’s Kody Bliss (61 yards, 2001), Germantown’s Courtney Leavitt (59 yards, 1995), Nashville Glencliff’s Ki Tok Chu (58 yards, 1984) and Chattanooga McCallie’s Ben Stafford (57 yards, 1996).
n Hampton’s Phillip Waters and West Greene’s Dalton Boles are battling it out for the area’s rushing championship. Through six games, Waters has totaled 1,346 yards for an average of 224 yards per game. Boles has played seven games and racked up 1,687 yards for an average of 241 yards per contest.
West Greene is one game ahead of Hampton because it doesn’t have a bye until Week 10. Hampton didn’t play in Week Zero.
n Daniel Boone’s Taylor Smith on the boys’ side and Science Hill’s Allison Woodard and Eliza Chang on the girls’ side will begin play in the Class AAA state golf tournament today.
Dobyns-Bennett will represent this area in the boys’ team competition while Sullivan South takes a shot at the girls’ team title.
The two-day event will be held at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester.
n Football games of the week — Science Hill at Daniel Boone, Volunteer at Sullivan South, Unicoi County at Elizabethton, Sullivan East at Hampton, Boyd Buchanan at Unaka.
Hilltoppers vs. Trailblazers — The loss to Tennessee High damaged Boone’s playoff hopes, but a big upset here would get the ’Blazers back on track. Meanwhile, Science Hill seems to have found its groove and is looking to increase its momentum.
Falcons vs. Rebels — This may be a surprise entrant for the game-of-the-week list, but Volunteer currently sits in fourth place in the Big Eight Conference and an upset win here would make the Falcons playoff relevant.
Blue Devils vs. Cyclones — Unicoi County has been a difficult team to predict this season, which is precisely the reason why favored Elizabethton cannot afford to overlook the Blue Devils.
Patriots vs. Bulldogs — If this was a league game, it would be getting all kinds of attention. As it stands, it’s a very interesting non-conference battle that could make East a lock for a Class 4A playoff berth.
Buccaneers vs. Rangers — It will likely turn into a blowout, but it’s hard not to appreciate Unaka for its willingness to schedule this game. Boyd Buchanan (7-0) comes in as the state’s No. 1-ranked Class 2A team, and the Rangers will get a face-to-face chance to see how a powerhouse program looks.
n Pick of the week — Science Hill 32, Daniel Boone 14.
The Hilltoppers should have little trouble moving the football and putting points on the scoreboard.
Picks record: 6-1.
n Note: Weekly honors are reserved for teams whose games are covered by our staff, and games reported to us. To report details of a game on Friday nights, coaches or the team’s designated statisticians may call 929-3111 or e-mail the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday games reported on Saturday are also eligible for weekly honor consideration.
To be considered for individual player of the week honors, the Johnson City Press must have an individual head-and-shoulder picture available.
n Player of the week — Phillip Waters of Hampton.
Waters got back in the top spot, perhaps on his next-to-last carry of the game. He raced a school-record 95 yards for a touchdown, capping off his team’s 39-12 win over North Greene.
Waters finished with 317 yards rushing on 28 carries.
n The Hogs Award — Science Hill Hilltoppers.
In a trench-smashing of Sullivan South, the “Hill Hogs” blew the Rebels off the line of scrimmage. They cracked pads to the tune of 467 yards rushing on 46 attempts, a first-down-every-attempt average of 10.2 yards.
And when it came time to pass, the “Hill Hogs” provided strong enough protection for 63 percent completions (12 of 19).
n Defensive unit of the week — Dobyns-Bennett Indians.
In a 49-0 pounding of Sullivan Central, the Indians’ defense was in total-deny mode. Central was locked down to minus-nine yards on 25 rushing attempts, and completed only three passes for 22 yards. That gave the Cougars only 13 yards of total offense. The Indians also forced nine punts by the Cougars.
n This Week in Prep History — October 4, 2003.
Walter Brown racked up 367 all-purpose yards in a 48-20 win over Sullivan East. Brown totaled 294 yards rushing, scoring on runs of 46, 53, 72 and 4 yards. He also threw a 29-yard touchdown pass, and had a 44-yard punt return.
n Sullivan East makes the biggest jump of the week, powering three spots to No. 7 in this week’s Prep Top 10.
Team W-L Prv
1. Dobyns-Bennett 6-0 1
2. Greeneville 5-1 2
3. Science Hill 4-2 3
4. Sullivan North 7-0 4
5. Hampton 6-0 5
6. Elizabethton 4-3 7
7. Sullivan East 5-1 10
8. Sullivan South 3-3 6
9. Tennessee High 3-3 8
10. Chuckey-Doak 5-1 nr
(tie) South Greene 4-2 nr