BA, Ryan eye No. 2 finish in region

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 12:59pm

The football playoff picture in Division II-AA is gradually starting to take shape — but by no means is crystal clear.

Unlike in Div. I, where many teams going into Week 10 are still in the dark, the playoff brackets for Div. II are clearly set up. Everyone makes the playoffs. And, for teams like Brentwood Academy, they know their fate.

BA (5-3) took a huge step toward landing a home game and a first-round playoff bye in a 26-7 victory over rival Montgomery Bell Academy. In order to nail down that coveted No. 2 seed, the Eagles must beat McCallie Friday and need a Ryan loss to Baylor. If the teams tie, the Irish claim the No. 2 seed with a win as they beat BA during the season.

For quarterback Cody Nelson, the win over MBA enabled him and 16 other Eagle seniors to finally beat the Big Red in football.

“This was huge, especially coming over to their field and finally beating them,’’ said Nelson who hit 6-of-9 passes for 117 yards. That included a 73-yard strike to Weldon Garlington which gave BA the lead for good, 14-7. “A win like this should give us a lot of confidence going into next week and then the playoffs,’’ said Nelson, who was named player of the game.

He clicked with his ace receiver Garlington to give the Eagles the edge they needed, “He said before the game we were going to hit one,’’ said Garlington who has played with Nelson since seventh grade. “I’d guess since grade scholl, he’s probably completed passes to me 100 times.’’

“This was a very big win for us, it got the pressure off,’’ said Coach Ralph Potter. “It (losing three straight to MBA) was started to wear on our guys mentally. Hopefully, we carry this into the McCallie (where he used to coach) game with a lot of momentum.’’

TSSAA officials will announce playoff scenarios Monday morning. Check back later in the day Monday for updates.

Darkwa out until playoffs

Ensworth’s Orleans Darkwa, who suffered a neck injury in the Eagles’ 29-15 win over Baylor, is out at least three weeks.

“Thankfully, there was no fracture,’’ said Coach Ricky Bowers. “He suffered what I think doctors described as a slight vertebrae sprain. He won’t practice for at least couple of days – but that’s normal, because he doesn’t practice early in the week anyway because he’s so beat up from the game before,’’ Bowers added, laughing.

Bowers said Darkwa would miss the BGA game Friday. Since Ensworth has a first-round bye Nov. 6, his likely return would be Nov. 13 for the Tigers’ first playoff game. “That’s the probable scenario,’’ he said.

Darkwa, a strong candidate for Mr. Football, did rush for 133 yards before his third-quarter injury, topping the 2,000-yard mark with 2,003.

Top-ranked Ensworth (8-0) clinched the Middle/East title and top seed with the win.

Crazy ending

Lipscomb barely hung on for a 13-7 win over Pearl-Cohn Friday in a game wit h a bizarre ending. The Firebirds, out of timeouts, made a desperation drive to the Mustang six in the final minute.

After a spike and running play got it to the two and the clock running, the Firebirds bench was waving at the team to spike the ball but was unnoticed.

Pearl-Cohn appeared to get the third-down play off just before the final second ticked off, but dependable senior defensive end Rainey Lankford made a tackle on the left side just short of the goal line, apparently saving the game. But officials then ruled that P-C didn’t get the play off on time, anyway.

Lipscomb, which had already clinched a 4A playoff berth, won its second straight late decision, scoring in the final minute last week to beat CPA. William Officer scored the winning TD for the second straight game and rushed for 123 yards.

Hard-luck Lions

CPA (3-6) has to be the hard-luck team in Nashville, losing five of its six games by a total of 20 points, two by one point. As a result, the Lions could miss the 3A playoffs. A win over Pearl-Cohn Friday may edge them close to a wild-card berth.

Ryan eyes state volleyball

Father Ryan eliminated old rival GPS in sectionals Saturday and moves into the state volleyball tournament as the team to beat in DII-AA. The Irish (39-8) meet Ensworth (15-6) Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at Blackman High in their opener.

“We had played GPS in the state finals the last two years and lost to them twice – both in five games,’’ said Coach Jinx Cockerham after the four-game win.

“Playing them this early (in sectionals) was kind of a shock, especially since we’ve been off 11 days. In a big way, a lot of the pressure is off,’’ said Cockerham who has taken her team to every state since DII began in 1997. Ryan last won the title in 2006.

“I was so nervous,’’ said UT commitment and all-around star Ellen Mullins. “We’ve wanted this so badly, the state is always our goal. This team is very together.’’

“It’s such a big deal, making state,’’ said 6-0 junior hitter Shannon Carr who, along with Madchen Petrie, were mainstays on the front row. “Losing to GPS those two years in finals, then beating them this year is really big for us.’’

Ensworth rallied to beat Briarcrest in five games to clinch its first state berth.

CPA (32-5), which won its Class AA sectionals game last Thursday, makes a second straight state tourney appearance. The Lions open up Wednesday at 1 p.m. at MTSU against Stone Memorial (31-22).

Powerhouses Ravenwood and Centennial both play Wednesday at 7 p.m. at MTSU.

DCA and Ezell-Harding both lost in their DI-A sectional matches in three straight games.