Around Thanksgiving, MBA and Brentwood Academy football teams will enjoy some turkey, dressing and the trimmings Thursday.
Two days later, the teams hope to add a nice desert, complete with a big gold ball for the winner when they play for the DII state championship Saturday at 7 in the BlueCross Bowl finals at MTSU in Murfreesboro.
Storylines are many:
• Brentwood Academy (11-1), the defending champion, is gunning for its 11th state championship and trying to avenge a13-7 mid-season loss to MBA.
• MBA (12-0) is aiming for a 14th title, having won five of the previous 13 since the TSSAA playoff system began. The other eight came as a result of prep polls and ratings, the first of which came in 1915. MBA is shooting for a school record 13th win.
• BA is trying to change an 0-3 DII state finals portfolio against MBA, the most recent in 2003 when the Red rolled 38-14.
• MBA is trying to win a crown for first year coach Daniel McGugin, who recently celebrated his 30th birthday. BA is trying to win a title for first year Eagle coach Ralph Potter, who was at McCallie last year.
Each coach was asked to give three keys to the game.
“I’d say have fun, play hard and eliminate mistakes,’’ McGugin said simply.
“I’d say eliminate waste downs offensively, where we don’t get any productivity, then defensively, get to the ball faster than before, then we have to play them at least even in the kicking game,’’ Potter said.
In the first game, field goals of 48 and 43 yards by kicker Andrew Fletcher were the margin of difference. Meanwhile, BA kicker John Reagan Moore has been dependable, not only with 5-of-5 on field goals but with consistent kick offs into the end zone.
“For the entire season, our guys have bought into what we’re trying to do, and I haven’t had to use any big pre-game pep talks,’’ McGugin said. “We just turn ‘em loose.’’
“We know MBA is going to try to come out and be physical, and we have to match that,’’ Potter said. “And we’re a little more healthy this time around.’’
That is in reference to DI prospect tailback Chris Jordan, who missed the first MBA game with an ankle sprain injury. He’s returned to rush for 263 yards and four TDs in two Eagle playoff wins. That gives him 1,177 yards and 16 TDs for the season, giving the MBA defense, led by LB Alfonza Knight, lots to worry about.
“Certainly his presence gives our defense one more big aspect to prepare for,’’ McGugin said. “He’s a great back.’’
“I’m really looking forward it,’’ Jordan said. “I missed last year’s finals and the earlier game (vs. MBA) because of my injury.’’
By contrast, MBA TB Christian Waddey has also returned from missing that game (knee) to run like gangbusters recently. He complements dependable E.J. Vinsang, who has rushed for 1,199 yards, which will test the Eagle defense.
“We can’t make the mistakes we did earlier,’’ said senior BA 5-11, 170 strong safety Mark Jacobs, who has 46 tackles. “We have to be sound in all areas. For the seniors, this would be the perfect ending if we can take home that big trophy like last year.’’
“The key will be if we make the big plays on third down and stay on the field,’’ said MBA senior wide receiver Andrew Harris. “My older brother Brian has two championships, and I’d sure like to get one myself.’’
Both teams have quarterbacks who fit well in their systems. Spencer Wise is very savvy in directing the Big Red. BA sophomore Cody Nelson has Jordan to mix in with his 1,000-yard passing season.
• On Friday, David Lipscomb and Pearl-Cohn hope to stay on a collision course toward a finals matchup in 3A quarterfinal games. Lipscomb hosts Bolivar, and Pearl-Cohn tries to avenge an earlier 14-12 loss with a visit to White House.
• Hillsboro hosts Maplewood for the right to land a semifinal berth in Class 4A. The Panthers are trying to avenge a 27-14 earlier loss.