It’s probably not the knockout matchup one would be looking for on opening night.
But from a standpoint of programs trying to build back, a casual high school fan might be interested in a clash Friday at 7 when Father Ryan invades Hillwood High.
Notably, it’s a matchup between a Nashville public school – Hillwood – which is trying to regain some respectability under a popular new coach who was a standout at UT against a private school – Ryan – which is climbing back to its glory days of years past.
Hillwood made consecutive playoff appearances in 2003 and 2004, even reaching the quarterfinals in 2004, but has won but one game the past two years and went 0-10 last year.
Ryan, which made the DII playoffs six times in seven years from 1995-2001, went through a four-year draught until coach Bruce Lussier guided them into last year’s playoffs at 5-5 in his second year.
“We’re very excited about playing a team with the tradition that a Ryan team brings,’’ said first-year coach Mose Phillips, a former UT tailback and Hillsboro star QB who was on the Burro, then Centennial staff.
“Last year’s coach Bobby Baskin (now an assistant at McGavock) got the game on our schedule last December, “ Phillips he said, “And it’s good in that we’re playing a team like Ryan where it gives us a chance to see where we stand pretty early.’’
“I’d like to see us get back to the days when the Nashville Metro schools play the private schools more, I think it’s good for everybody,’’ Lussier said. “We play (public schools) Hillwood and Overton this season, and I think that’s good. I’m kind of old school in that regard, and I think we ought to do more of that.’’
Lussier, who enjoyed great success at Oak Ridge prior to landing the Ryan job, mentioned junior wideout Mark Mulloy as a top receiver and linemen Tim Schmid and John Brown as anchoring the line.
“Opening night is always special,’’ Lussier said. “We’re going to be excited about it, and I’m sure Hillwood will be.’’
Hillwood’s offense is guided by QB Ricky Bedell, while Wesley Jackson is rated as the top Topper receiver.
Senior Justin Guidry calls the signals for the Irish and is counted on for leadership. Senior tailback Ryan Berry, who rushed for more than 900 yards for the Irish last year, is back.
Ironically, it is Ryan’s “home’’ game even though it is being played at Hillwood. Greer Stadium, where Ryan usually plays its home games, is still being used by the baseball Sounds. Ryan will play at Greer later in the season.
• Comcast has announced its area high school football schedule to be carried on CSS (Ch. 27 in Nashville) this season. Games include:
Friday, Hendersonville at Station Camp, Aug. 31, Overton at Hillsboro; Sept. 7, Antioch at Hunters Lane; Sept. 14, Brentwood Academy at Smyrna; Sept. 21, Brentwood at Ravenwood; Sept. 28, Goodpasture at Lipscomb; Oct. 5, Ensworth at MBA; Oct. 12, Independence at Dickson County; Oct. 19, Columbia at Franklin; Oct. 26, Riverdale at Smyrna; Nov. 2, White House at Greenbrier.