Of course, some have better chances than others. So which area team has the best chance of getting to Cookeville for the BlueCross Bowl? Here are the top five contenders:
1. Class 4A Elizabethton
Injuries are a big concern for the Cyclones, but the regular season win over two-time defending champion Greeneville still stands as a reminder that reaching the semifinals is more of a possibility this year.
If Elizabethton makes it to the semifinals, Marshall County (tough region) or Livingston Academy (undefeated) are the best bets to provide the opposition.
2. Class 5A Tennessee High
The Vikings have the defending state champs in their bracket, but Knox Central has lost two games in a row. If Tennessee High reaches the quarterfinals, South-Doyle figures to be in the way.
The semifinals would be a big hurdle with Powell and Knox West looking lean and mean.
3. Class 2A Hampton
A quarterfinal appearance looks very reasonable for the Bulldogs, who are the hottest team in this area.
They would likely have to navigate No. 3-ranked Meigs County at that point. In the semifinals, Tyner, Watertown and Trousdale County are the biggest threats from regions 3 and 4 to get there.
4. Class 6A Dobyns-Bennett
Barring upsets, the Indians would basically have to win two state championship games to get to Cookeville.
They would likely have to navigate No. 2-ranked Maryville — which is always in the state title conversation — in the quarterfinals. Then No. 1-ranked Murfreesboro Oakland, the defending state champion, could await in the semifinals.
5. Class 5A David Crockett
Yes, the Pioneers have lost three straight games. But they had a chance late in the fourth quarter in all of them.
If Crockett can turn things around by avenging last year’s quarterfinal loss to Central, who knows what kind of postseason roll awaits?
CADE LARKINS UPDATE
It is potentially coming down to the final game of his high school career as the David Crockett quarterback tries to set the state’s all-time record for passing yardage.
Larkins threw for 267 yards in Friday’s heartbreaking 28-27 loss to Morristown East. The senior pushed his career total to 10,874, and will need 249 yards in Friday’s first-round Class 5A playoff contest against defending state champion Knox Central to break the mark set in 2014 by Trinity Christian’s Kyle Akin. Larkins is averaging 269 yards per game this season. He has passed for 249 or more yards seven times in 10 games.
Larkins is currently in fourth place on the Tennessee list, needing 105 to move into third place and 159 to reach the second spot.
On the all-time national list, Larkins reached an impressive level. He moved into the No. 25 spot. Larkins needs 270 yards to climb into the top 20.
Larkins added three touchdown passes against East to move his career total to 104. He moved into the No. 6 spot on the state’s all-time list.
David Crockett produced a rare accomplishment Friday night.
Receivers Donta Hackler and Prince Kollie each went over 1,000 yards receiving for the season. Hackler had 13 grabs for 165 yards to give him 1,035 on the year.
Kollie caught seven balls for 55 yards to move his total to 1,032.
It may be the first time in Northeast Tennessee history that two players from the same team had 1,000 yards receiving in the same season.
Kade Hensley connected on a pair of field goals in Science Hill’s 31-20 loss to Knox Bearden on Friday, and moved into seventh place on the state’s all-time single-season list.
The junior is 12 of 15 on the year, including his longest connections from 51 and 49 yards. Hensley has at least one more game remaining as the Hilltoppers will travel to face Maryville in Friday’s Class 6A playoff contest.
After a week-long wait because heavy rains created poor field conditions at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro, Science Hill will take on Maryville in the first round of the Class AAA state tournament on Wednesday. The game is set for 2:30 p.m. (EST).
Science Hill is 19-3-1 on the season while Maryville is 17-3-3. The teams haven’t met this year, but Maryville is 7-1-1 against common opponents while Science Hill is 6-2.
The semifinals are set for Thursday while Saturday’s championship is scheduled to begin at noon.
HOW WE VOTED
The full rankings by the Johnson City Press/Times News for the final regular season Associated Press state football poll.
1. Oakland, 2. Maryville, 3. Ravenwood, 4. Whitehaven, 5. Houston , 6. Brentwood, 7. McMinn County, 8. Dobyns Bennett, 9. Cane Ridge, 10. Bradley Central
1. Beech, 2. Powell, 3. Knoxville West, 4. Gallatin, 5. Henry County, 6. Tennessee, 7. Page, 8. Shelbyville, 9. South Doyle, 10. Summit
1. Elizabethton, 2. Greeneville, 3. Anderson County, 4. Haywood County, 5. Livingston Academy, 6. Hardin County, 7. Marshall County, 8. Springfield, 9. Nolensville, 10. East Hamilton
1. Alcoa, 2. Pearl-Cohn, 3. Loudon, 4. Upperman, 5. South Gibson, 6. Red Bank, 7. East Nashville, 8. Covington, 9. Gatlinburg-Pittman, 10. Wooddale
1. Peabody, 2. Trousdale County, 3. Meigs County, 4. Forrest, 5. Hampton, 6. South Greene, 7. Watertown, 8. Houston County, 9. Fairley, 10. Lewis County
1. South Pittsburg, 2. Huntingdon, 3. Lake County, 4. Monterey, 5. Fayetteville, 6. Middle College, 7. Greenback, 8. Oliver Springs, 9. Coalfield, 10. Mt. Pleasant
THE TOP 10
At the end of the regular season, there was only one team that made it through without a loss. Elizabethton stated its case for No. 1 in the final rankings of the season.
|2. Tennessee High
|4. David Crockett
|5. Science Hill
|8. Sullivan South
|9. Unicoi County
|10. Happy Valley
BEST PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
David Crockett at Knox Central
It’s a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals, and should be a tight, hard-fought game.
Knox Halls at Daniel Boone
Flip a coin on this one, which could be decided by whichever team comes from the toughest region.
Sullivan South at East Hamilton
The Rebels are familiar with the trip to Chattanooga for the first round of the playoffs. And their 1-1 record over the last two years hints they have a shot.
Gatlinburg-Pittman at Unicoi County
The Blue Devils had a top-five offense in the area this year, and a home-underdog role could spell trouble for the visitors.
Harriman at Cloudland
A 3-7 record doesn’t make the Blue Devils scary, but they played a tough schedule this season.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Dobyns-Bennett 24, William Blount 14
The Indians will have to shake off the effects of a two-game losing streak, but that should help them start the game with a little surliness — which can produce turnovers on defense and first downs between the tackles on offense.
Picks record: 7-4.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Brennan Blair, Daniel Boone
It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the Trailblazers’ junior, and a whirlwind is about what Boone’s opponents have been trying to tackle.
Blair carried 24 times in a 45-20 win over Cherokee, totaling 206 yards and two touchdowns as the Trailblazers won for the fifth straight game.
Leading the Falcons through the air, the sophomore connected on 20 of 30 throws for 264 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-12 win over Cocke County.
Unicoi County, RB
In a 34-0 whipping of Johnson County, the senior rushed 24 times for 187 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Blue Devils earned a home playoff game.
Making it work on the ground for the Falcons in a 35-12 win over Cocke County, Johnson totaled 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Helping the Cyclones finish off a perfect regular season, the senior totaled 102 yards on 15 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns in a 37-0 win over Sullivan Central.
THE HOGS AWARD
Whether it was on the ground or through the air, the Vol Hogs made sure the offense had all the space it needed to operate.
When the dust had settled on a 35-12 defeat of Cocke County, the Falcons’ offensive line had been the impetus for 427 yards of offense.
DEFENSIVE UNIT OF THE WEEK
Facing a team that had been a solid offensive unit much of the season, the Cyclones delivered a shutout.
Elizabethton forced 17 incompletions on 24 attempts and allowed only 57 yards on 21 rushing attempts.