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Taking a look at area first-round playoff matchups

Douglas Fritz • Nov 3, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Area football teams locked in their playoff positions as the regular season was put in the books Friday.

Here’s a glimpse at what those teams face in the first round, which begins this week.

CLASS 6A

WILLIAM BLOUNT (4-6) at DOBYNS-BENNETT (8-2)

The Governors’ best effort may have come in Week 7 against Elizabethton as that game was tied 17-17 in the fourth quarter. Other than that, their four wins came against teams with a combined total of five victories on the season.

D-B doesn’t have the best history against Blount, losing to the Governors in the playoffs in 2001 and 2006. Blount also beat D-B in 2016 as one of only two wins that season for the Governors.

Playoff series: Blount leads, 2-1. Favorite: Dobyns-Bennett (80 percent)

SCIENCE HILL (4-6) at MARYVILLE (10-0)

There are very few flaws on the Rebels’ schedule this season. The close games were Alcoa (17-3) and Farragut (35-24) in the middle of the season, but since then Maryville has outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 225-40.

The Rebels boast 16 state titles and seven runner-up finishes. The most recent championship came in 2017.

Playoff series: Maryville leads, 4-0. Favorite: Maryville (96 percent)

 

CLASS 5A

GIBBS (7-3) at TENNESSEE HIGH (9-1)

Winners of four straight games, including an impressive 28-17 thumping of Knox Central on Friday, the Eagles could give the Vikings a challenge. They lost a three-way tiebreaker with Central and Halls in Region 2.

Gibbs has won just one postseason game since a Class 4A quarterfinal appearance in 2010.

Playoff series: First meeting. Favorite: Tennessee High (65 percent)

DAVID CROCKETT (7-3) at KNOX CENTRAL (8-2)

These teams, once ranked among the state’s top five, have combined for five straight losses.

The Bobcats are the defending state champions, and state runner-up in 2016, but have been outscored 66-27 in their last two games.

Playoff series: Central leads, 1-0. Favorite: Central (60 percent)

KNOX HALLS (7-3) at DANIEL BOONE (6-4)

After five straight wins to start the season, the Red Devils suffered three consecutive blowout losses by a combined margin of 143-24.

They have an up-and-down playoff history, and know Washington County foes well. They went 1-1 against Crockett over the last two years, and defeated Boone in 2016.

Playoff series: Halls leads, 1-0. Favorite: Boone (51 percent)

CHEROKEE (6-4) at SOUTH-DOYLE (7-3)

South Doyle may be better than its record indicates. One loss was to Class 4A state power Anderson County and another came against No. 2-ranked Class 5A squad Knox Powell. The 7-3 defeat to Seymour occurred with star running back Elijah Young ejected on the game’s fifth play for a targeting call. The ruling was overturned and the suspension rescinded in the week following the loss.

The Cherokees reached the quarterfinals in 2017, the semifinals in 2016, and the quarterfinals in 2014.

Playoff series: First meeting. Favorite: South-Doyle (90 percent)

 

CLASS 4A

EAST RIDGE (6-4) at ELIZABETHTON (10-0)

It’s a new opponent for the Cyclones as the Pioneers have bounced back and forth between classes 3A and 4A.

East Ridge reached the Class 3A quarterfinals in 2015 and 2016, but didn’t run into the Cyclones for geographic reasons.

Against the four teams with at least seven wins on this year’s schedule, East Ridge scored a combined total of only 27 points.

Playoff series: First meeting. Favorite: Elizabethton (85 percent)

SULLIVAN SOUTH (5-5) at EAST HAMILTON (7-3)

All of the Hurricanes’ losses came against quality opponents, and two were one-score finishes. Hamilton at times has been offensive (over 50 points four times) or defensive (four games allowing seven points or less).

The Hurricanes reached the Class 4A quarterfinals in 2014 and 2012, and the Class 5A quarterfinals in 2013.

Playoff series: First meeting. Favorite: East Hamilton (75 percent)

 

CLASS 3A

GATLINBURG-PITTMAN (8-2) at UNICOI COUNTY (6-4)

After a 7-0 start, the Highlanders lost two in a row. But those games were against Austin-East and Alcoa. They bounced back by taking down a solid Kingston team.

Pittman hasn’t made it past the second round of the playoffs since a 2010 quarterfinal loss to Elizabethton.

Playoff series: Unicoi leads, 1-0. Favorite: Pittman (70 percent)

JOHNSON COUNTY (4-6) at AUSTIN-EAST (7-3)

The Roadrunners lost to Alcoa, Greeneville and private-school Knox Webb. They scored at least 32 points in every other game.

A-E owns three state titles, the most recent coming in 2001.

Playoff series: Austin-East leads, 3-0. Favorite: Austin-East (92 percent)

 

CLASS 2A

CUMBERLAND GAP (4-6) at HAMPTON (8-2)

It’s a comfortable matchup for the Bulldogs as the Panthers have just one playoff victory in school history, which came back in 2007 against Happy Valley.

Cumberland Gap lost its first five games this season before winning four in a row.

Playoff series: First meeting. Favorite: Hampton (95 percent)

SULLIVAN NORTH (5-5) at ONEIDA (6-4)

Momentum favors neither team as both have lost two in a row, including one-score defeats in Week 11.

The Indians are in the playoffs for the 13th straight season and have a career playoff record of 37-34. They have a capable offense, but didn’t produce many points against the toughest teams on a difficult schedule.

Playoff series: First meeting. Favorite: Oneida (60 percent)

HAPPY VALLEY (7-3) at MEIGS COUNTY (9-1)

This looks like a massive chore for the Warriors. The Tigers’ only loss was against Class 1A state power South Pittsburg.

But if it’s a close game, maybe Happy Valley has a shot. Meigs lost by three points in the second round in 2016, by one point in the quarterfinals in 2017, and by three points in the semifinals last year.

Playoff series: Meigs leads, 1-0. Favorite: Meigs (90 percent)

 

CLASS 1A

HARRIMAN (3-7) at CLOUDLAND (5-5)

Harriman was once a strong playoff threat, including a venture to Roan Mountain for a 60-56 loss to the Highlanders in its most recent appearance in 2016.

The Blue Devils haven’t been super competitive against the good teams on their schedule this year.

Playoff series: Harriman leads, 2-1. Favorite: Cloudland (55 percent)

UNAKA (2-8) at GREENBACK (8-2)

The Cherokees won the state in 2017, reached the semifinals last year, and were state runner-up in 2015-16. Yes, the odds are against the Rangers.

Playoff series: Greenback leads, 1-0. Favorite: Greenback (98 percent)

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