FOOTBALL GAME PREVIEWS: County matchups headline Friday

FOOTBALL GAME PREVIEWS: County matchups headline Friday

By CAROL STUART / Franklin Home PageBGA tries to start off the year 2-0, Independence and Page battle each other for their first win, Centennial opens the season, and Franklin takes its first road trip in Friday’s football matchups.

IHS Coach Kevin Dyson

WAKM 950-AM radio: Page at Independence, 7 pm

BGA-RHS, Page-IHS highlight lineup; CHS opens at Overton

Battle Ground Academy tries to start off the year 2-0, Independence and Page battle each other for their first win, Centennial opens up the season, and Franklin takes its first road trip in this Friday’s football matchups.

Class 4A Page plays at neighboring 6A school IHS, while BGA visits Ravenwood in another county non-district game.

“This is one of those games where they’re going try to probably do everything they can to win the game,” Independence Coach Kevin Dyson said. “It’s a familiarity thing with the kids, a lot have grown up together for the most part. They’ve all grown up playing each other in middle school or playing together at middle school, so it makes for interesting competition.

“Nobody wants to be the one that has to lose that game. You want to have bragging rights, and so I expect them to come out and give us their best.”

Here is a closer look at this week’s games:   

FHP Game of the Week:
Battle Ground Academy (1-0) @ Ravenwood (0-0), 7:30 p.m.

BGA is coming off a 23-7 victory over Smyrna, while Ravenwood enjoyed an open date and had its coaches and players watch the Wildcats’ game.

Battle Ground routed the Raptors 42-10 last fall and RHS only won two games all season, but Coach Joe Rietveld has now had over a full year at RHS. The Wildcats no longer have Iowa quarterback signee C.J. Beathard at the controls, although his junior brother Tucker Beathard is the new starter.

“Familiar name — his skill set is a little different than his brother’s, but still very good,” Rietveld said. “He can turn a nothing into something in the bat of an eye. We have to make sure that we go to the whistle, finish every play and keep an eye on him.”

BGA’s Keenan Bass rushed for 204 yards against Smyrna.

Ravenwood’s biggest concern on defense will probably be stopping BGA senior Keenan Bass (5-9, 160). Bass rushed for 905 yards last season and ran for a 62-yard TD on his way to over 200 yards last week.

“We had some big plays on offense,” BGA Coach Roc Batten said. “I would like us to be more steady and move the ball, but Keenan Bass produced a couple of really big plays for us offensively.

“We still need some other guys to step up and take some of the load off his shoulders, but we were able to create some big plays.”

Batten said his new QB, Tucker Beathard (5-9, 150), had a good start. Beathard hooked up on a 32-yard pass that set up one score.

“He didn’t turn the ball over; that was a positive thing,” the coach said. “. . . We’ve got to get him to settle down in the pocket. We knew he’d be nervous in his first game. But I thought he did a pretty decent job managing the game for us and trying to create some plays.”

The Wildcats scored on a punt return and the punt team pinned Smyrna deep several times, although BGA had a punt blocked. The defense held Smyrna to 34 rushing yards.

“I thought we did a good job holding Smyrna in check for most of the game, and capitalizing on some things that they did offensively, so that was exciting,” Batten said.

RHS doesn’t have the size on the defensive line of last season, but is hoping the speed of its back seven will make up for it.

“Defensively, I think they fly around to the ball really well and they line up very sound,” Batten said. “They’ll have those guys ready to play against us of course. It’s a battle between two schools in one county so that makes it even more interesting.”

Andrew Radford

Rietveld hadn’t named a starting quarterback by mid-week, but said the job is senior Andrew Radford’s if he’s healthy enough. Radford, also a Raptors baseball player, has been recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Raptors could go with senior John Overton, sophomore Connor Rietveld or junior Avery Jankowski.

Ravenwood’s top targets are Jaylen McGriff and Brandon Jordan, while seniors Ryan Butler and Jake Cameron headline the running attack.

“They’ve got some really good athletic kids at the skill positions,” BGA’s Batten said.  “. . . They’re big up front, so physically what we’ve seen of them they can come off and maul you up front.”

The Wildcats’ defense, meanwhile, is led by linebacker Hasty Moran, converted from lineman and also a 100-meter sprinter in track season. With Ravenwood open last Friday, the RHS coaches went to the BGA-Smyrna game – and a parent even showed up with a bus-full of Raptors players.

“They’re going to real prepared for us having basically an extra week,” Batten said. “It’s their first home game of the season. I’m expecting a great atmosphere.”

Page (0-1) @ Independence (0-1), 7 p.m.

It’s the second week in a row that Page, a 4A playoff team a year ago, will play a bigger-size school. After suffering a 22-10 loss at Clarksville’s 5A Kenwood last week, the Patriots visit 6A playoff team Independence.

The Eagles were forced to start freshman Andrew Bunch at QB in a 20-7 loss to Blackman.

“It does your heart well to see him go out there against probably one of the best and biggest defensive fronts that we’ll see all year long, and stand and deliver, stand in the pocket, took a couple of shots,” Dyson said.

Transfer Vic Wharton III made his debut at Independence, where his dad now helps coach.

“And he came out with much more respect from his teammates and coaches just from the way he played.”

But starter Chase Swayze (shin) is back this week and versatile transfer Vic Wharton III will be used again in some packages.

“It just makes for everybody to have to game-plan for him, figure out how to stop him,” Dyson said.

Expect this game to be a battle between Page’s new high-octane offense and Indy’s stingy defense. Junior Zak Mizell runs the spread for new Patriots head coach Charles Rathbone and has plenty of capable receivers, while ends Jalen Wade and Josh Murray anchor the Eagles’ D-line.

“He’s a guy who has started since he was a freshman,” Dyson noted of Mizell. “You watch him on film and he’s composed, he’s talented, he delivers a nice ball, he’s confident in the pocket, he doesn’t panic.

“I can’t say enough about the quarterback. I really like the kid.”

IHS will send a bevy of running backs, which includes senior Oscar Prado, at the Page defense led by end Joe Robertson and linebacker Jake Laster. Dyson said the Page secondary is one of the best the Eagles will face from a depth standpoint.

“They’ve got some big guys up front, that are 300-plus guys that are hard to hard to move, that plug up running lanes,” he added. “They’ve got the guys on the edges, the skill guys fast. They come up and stop the run. You think you have a big run and they’re coming up and breaking it up where it should have been 15, 20 yard play it’s 5 or 7 yards.

“But there are some running lanes and Kenwood found them. . . . So we’re going have to be patient in the running game.”

Centennial (0-0) @ Overton (0-1), 7 p.m.

Like Ravenwood, Centennial’s coaches got a sneak peek at their opening opponents by watching Overton’s 19-6 loss to Father Ryan. The improving Cougars are looking to return to the playoffs again this season.

“I like to kind of have that extra week to prepare and get another scrimmage in so that we can try to have all of our stuff in order before the first game,” CHS Coach Brian Rector said. “It’s always hard as a coach, though, you never know if you’ve got everything covered especially before that first game.”

J.J. Tomlin returns as the Cougars QB.

Daniel Martin carried 61 yards on 13 carries for the Bobcats against the Irish. Overton was stopped twice inside the 5 and gave up a punt return for a touchdown.

Receivers Rozelle Wilson (4 catches, 61 yards) and D’Anthony Wilson (2 catches, 26 yards) averaged in double digits, even though quarterback Ugo Amadi didn’t throw often.

“Overton is a very dangerous team,” Rector said. “They have several good athletes between the quarterback and the two wide receivers. They have two really good running backs, and I feel like what are pretty good tight ends as well.

“When it comes down to it, I feel like offensively they’re very balanced. They’re not a huge passing team but they’re so dangerous in their receivers that they can literally just throw it up and the guys can go get it.”

Centennial returns starting QB J.J. Tomlin and running back Scottie Fleming for their senior seasons.

“The defense is definitely a pack-the-box type of defense, and they’re aggressive, run to the ball,” the Cougars coach said. “We’re going to have to fight for every yard when it comes right down to it.”

Rector said he had a couple of projected starters out with injury and is worried about depth. He also doesn’t think his team has “hit any kind of rhythm just yet.”

“We need to get into shape as well,” he said. “We do plenty of stuff for that. I’s just sometimes it’s hard to get in shape for football until you play football. We’re excited about doing that. They have the advantage, because they’ve had one full game of that over us.”


Franklin (0-1) @ Hendersonville (1-0), 7 p.m.

The Rebels, under new head coach Donnie Webb, will try to put last week’s 53-7 loss to a powerful Siegel squad in their rearview mirrors as they head up I-65 to Hendersonville.

The Commandos defeated Station Camp 17-9 in the opening week, with Nick Reininger carrying 19 times for 98 yards. Hendersonville QB Kyle Anderton connected on just 6 of 14 passes for 52 yards but had a rushing TD.

“Hendersonville does a great job with their wing T offense and misdirection,” Webb said. “They have several players that carry the ball and a very good offensive line. I really like their offensive tackles and their TE (Chad Dye, 6-3, 248).

“They are physical players that will give us problems if we do not bring the same intensity to the game that Hendersonville will bring.”

Franklin sophomore Joe Critchlow, in his first start at quarterback, showed flashes of his talent including a 24-year TD strike to pull the Rebels within 8-7 after Siegel scored on the first play from scrimmage.

“Hendersonville has great tradition and their stadium is a great atmosphere for high school football,” Webb said. ” . . . We have a large task in front of us.”


About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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