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The Saturday (Seven) – Division I semifinals

Thoughts on the seven area teams from Friday’s Division I semifinals:

Meigs County 22, Trousdale County 20: Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, Cameron Rankins came up one yard short of a tying two-point conversion, and Meigs County got its revenge for last year’s semifinal loss in Hartsville.

It’s a disappointing ending for first-year head coach Blake Satterfield, but when your initial season at the helm ends on Black Friday, it’s still a very good season. The expectations are always going to be this high for Trousdale County, perhaps one of a handful of programs you can really say that about in the midstate.

So, anything short of a gold ball will always be a disappointment down by the Creekbank. But you also know that the Yellow Jackets will be back, because that’s what the program is – an annual contender.

Pearl-Cohn 21, Covington 20: Even the 1996 and 1997 Pearl-Cohn teams couldn’t do what this year’s Firebird squad will attempt to finish next week in Cookeville – go undefeated.

That ’97 team – also their last team to bring home a gold ball and Metro’s last since Hillsboro in 2008 – had standouts like Santonio Beard and John Henderson on the roster, and while the Firebirds may not have a bigger name than those on the current recruiting trail, it doesn’t diminish at all what the current roster is accomplishing, especially with Martino Owens running the offense.

The challenge now is for the defense slowing down Alcoa in the Class 3A title game. Out of all the championship games on the schedule, I’m looking forward to this one the most on the turf at Tennessee Tech (Friday, 3 p.m.)

Elizabethton 34, Nolensville 12: Fourth season overall, third with varsity football. Three playoff appearances, one semifinal run. That’s the postseason resume the Knights currently have in their school’s short history.

Nolensville simply ran into a powerhouse in Elizabethton after a long road trip to get there, and the Knights kept it close until the fourth quarter. For Tim Coutras, it could still end with a Mr. Football award on Monday. It’s not bad at all. The Knights are quickly building a strong program under Paul Derrick and their future is still pretty bright.

Nolensville gets one more year in Class 4A, then the future is unknown due to possible reclassification (and maybe the cutting of one Division I class).

Springfield 17, Haywood 14 (OT): For the second straight week, it came down to a 10-yard fight. For the second straight week, the Yellow Jackets threw the knockout punch.

What was different this time was that Luis Diaz Jijon had to watch his counterpart on the Haywood sideline miss three field goals (the third of them off the right upright) before coming in to boot his 23-yarder right down Broadway to send Springfield back to Cookeville for the second time in three years.

Special teams played a key role in the win – Jeremy Jones twice pinned Haywood inside its own 10-yard line, forcing the Tomcats to drive it the length of the field. Though the Yellow Jackets gave up yards, the defense didn’t break inside the red zone in the second half. This was supposed to be a bit of a reloading year for Springfield, but the Yellow Jackets have proven they can put ammo in quickly enough to take their shot a title.

Most will pick Elizabethton in the 4A title game (Saturday, 3 p.m.), but Dustin Wilson and his charges won’t care about that. They’ve had to battle all year to get here. What’s one more?

Summit 27, Dyer County 20: The key number we mentioned on the 615Preps Podcast this past week was 27 – Dyer County had held every team they defeated under that number and was 11-1 when they scored 27 or more points, while Summit was perfect when the Spartans got there this season. So, the Summit defense simply cut off Dyer County before they could get there.

The Wade twins continued their romp through the Class 5A playoffs, with Keaten Wade rolling up nearly 175 rushing yards again. Credit Brian Coleman and his staff for doing something not enough coaches do – fit the scheme to his talent, not the other way around. The spread maximizes the Wade twins’ talents and allows their offense to really open up options, but they maintained some Wing-T concepts to fit his offensive line’s strengths as well. And now, they’re the lone newcomer to the BlueCross Bowl championship party.

Maryville 12, Oakland 0: Raise your hand if you saw just 12 points being scored between these two teams. Okay, now please step over to the lie detector. Defense carried the night for the Rebels, as Oakland mistakes led to the Patriots’ ultimate demise. And yet, for more than 45 minutes, Oakland was one score away from taking the lead. It just simply didn’t come.

Maryville shortened the game on the ground, and that certainly didn’t help the Patriots. Perhaps the last two weeks were a warning signal that this might be coming, and it’s certainly a disappointment for Oakland. But we’ve had this semifinal for six consecutive years, and it will be an upset if there’s not a seventh in 2020. Go ahead and clear Nov. 27 now for next year if you’re a fan of these two schools.

Ravenwood 42, Houston 21: What we learned on Friday was that playing at home in the semifinals – though it’s predetermined by which year it is – is still a big advantage. Midstate teams went 0-3 on the road (all in the Eastern time zone) and 4-0 at home on Black Friday.

Ravenwood took Houston’s best punch – Mr. Football candidate Lincoln Pare had 140 yards and a score on 40 carries – and countered with an assortment of weapons. Still without Tony Rice (ankle), Connor Pace (14 carries, 88 yards) and Jordan Smith (8 carries, 55 yards, 2 touchdowns) laid the ground work for Brian Garcia to get Jake Briningstool (6 receptions, 116 yards, TD) and Ross Johnston (4-51-2) involved through the air.

But with the defense holding Pare to 60 yards fewer than his season average, the Raptors won the brawl and earned a shot at Maryville (Saturday, 7 p.m.) – whom Ravenwood also took down for its 2015 title.

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