East Literature wants to leave no doubt this time.
The Eagles were the first team that missed out of the Class 3A playoffs last year, when they finished 33rd in the TSSAA regional standings. The top 32 make the postseason.
So far this season first-year coach Jim Wilson has East Lit rolling along at 5-1 as the Eagles prepare to invade Maplewood (6-1), which is No. 2 in this week’s TSSAA rankings for the Class 4A state playoffs.
East Lit is No. 12 on the TSSAA list, and if the season ended today, the Eagles would be solidly in. But there’s work to do.
Last year under Coach Bubba Spears, it lost its final two games and finished 5-5 in its first year of varsity play. A win in either of those last two games would have gotten them in.
“You figure you need to win six or seven to be in for sure,” Wilson said. “Winning just five may not be enough.
“But they need to change the system. It’s hard enough to make the playoffs, especially for the 1A, 3A and 5A teams. As a 3A team, we have to play a primarily 4A schedule.”
After Friday, East Lit has only Class 4A opponents (Stratford, Whites Creek and Lipscomb) remaining on its schedule.
But the way the Eagles are scoring, they should be more than competitive. They have lit up the scoreboard for 88 points in the past two games.
“The kids are playing a little better each game,” Wilson said. “In our loss to Pearl-Cohn (21-7), they just flat beat us. But we’ve bounced back and have continued to improve game by game.”
Senior running back Dominique Grimes continues to lead the Eagles in rushing, averaging almost eight yards per carry.
“I’m impressed with how hard (Maplewood) plays and how well they are coached,” Wilson said. “We won’t face two better running backs the entire season than (Stanley Hagan and LaDarius VanLier). Even when it appears you have them stopped, they are so fast and elusive, they can escape the defense.”
• Maplewood No. 2: Besides being No. 2 in the TSSAA regional rankings, Maplewood has moved up two spots to No. 2 in Class 4A in this week’s AP prep poll. The Panthers are ranked behind only Greeneville (6-0), a finalist last year.
Also, Nashville Christian School (5-1), with five straight wins, has landed at No. 10 in Class 1A, the first time the Eagles have been ranked in a decade.
• Ezell visits DCA: Ezell-Harding visits Donelson Christian Academy 7 p.m. Thursday as those teams get the jump on the rest of the schedule. It is a key DII-A Region game as DCA is 2-1 (4-2 overall), a game ahead of Ezell at 1-2 (3-3 overall).
• Aid leaves Ensworth for Lipscomb: Ensworth High’s tennis coach Jamie Aid has resigned to become the assistant coach at Lipscomb University. She was a four-year letterman at Lipscomb and captain her senior year.
• All-star coaches named: Former Hillsboro High Coach Scott Blade (who is in his second year as Oak Ridge coach) and Chris Wiley of Arrington have been named head coaches for this year’s fourth annual Toyota Tennessee all-star game.
The game is scheduled for Dec. 11 at Çarson-Newman College in Jefferson City. Blade guided Hillsboro to the 2008 Class 4A state crown.
High school football
Ezell-Harding at DCA, 7 p.m.
Antioch at Overton
BGA at McCallie
Brentwood Academy at Baylor
Cane Ridge at Hillsboro
Centennial at Lawrence County
East Robertson at NCS
East Literature at Maplewood
Father Ryan at MBA
FRA at Ravenwood
Glencliff at McGavock
Greenbrier at David Lipscomb
Hunters Lane at Hillwood
Independence at Columbia
Lancaster Christian at Davidson Ac.
Pope JPII at Ensworth
Stratford at Pearl-Cohn
Whites Creek at CPA