Step right up ladies and gents and enjoy a preview of a state championship football game a week early when No. 1 plays No. 2.
Maplewood (12-1), the hottest team in Nashville these days with 11 straight wins, will host Greeneville (13-0) in the Class 4A semifinals Friday night. Greeneville and Maplewood finished the regular season ranked 1-2, respectively, in the final AP poll and were ranked that way the final two months of the season.
“This is what it’s all about,” coach Arcentae Broome said just after his Panthers steamrolled David Lipscomb with a 33-point second half en route to a 45-20 victory in the quarterfinals Friday. “It’s exciting – the two best teams on this (Eastern) side of the playoff quadrant will be playing each other on our field. They have a goose egg (no losses) on their resume, and we have one loss (to MBA back on Aug. 27).”
Led by Mr. Football finalist Willie Carmichael, who rushed for 154 yards and three touchdowns and passed for another, Greeneville slaughtered Gibbs 42-3 Friday in their quarterfinal contest. Last year, the Devils edged Whites Creek in the semifinals, then lost to Giles County in the championship game.
“They have an outstanding team,” Broome said.
Maplewood reached the 2007 finals.
There’s no holiday this weekfor the Panthers. Broome told his team after the game that they would practice at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.
The Panthers played Friday’s game with a heavy heart. The father of defensive coach Dorris Armstrong passed away early Friday morning.
“He was 94 and had been in failing health for some time,’’ Broome said. “I think our players were certainly more motivated for coach Armstrong, they really love him.’’
Versatile Smith continues to shine
Is there a better all-around player in Nashville than Maplewood split end/defensive back Dewain Smith?
Against David Lipscomb, the versatile senior caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Alvin Stokes late in the third quarter. Just three minutes later, he intercepted a pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown – untouched – early in the fourth quarter for a 45-7 lead.
In all, Smith has five interceptions. He also returned one for a touchdown in the opener against Hillsboro.
“The interception really helped us put the game away, I just broke on the ball,” he said. “I am really excited about the Greeneville game, we have been working so long for this.”
About practicing on Thanksgiving morning, he said, “I love it. We’ll practice hard, then I’ll head home and eat a big Thanksgiving meal.”
Smith and younger brother Randall each had another solid defensive game with several pass breakups.
Stokes came back with a solid second-half after a mental meltdown. He mistakenly knelt down instead of spiking the ball in the final seconds of the first half with the ball on the Lipscomb 4 and allowed the clock to run out. After intermission, he threw touchdown passes to Smith and to Daryl Clack and finished with 6-of-9 for 125 yards.
Add that to the contributions of tailback Stanley Hagan, who has totally caught fire in the playoffs. With 280 yards rushing, he has more than 600 yards rushing in three postseason contests and has scored three more touchdowns, one on a 76-yard run in the second quarter.
“At halftime (when Maplewood led just 12-7), we just made up our minds to finish strong,” Hagan said. “I was able to get outside a couple of times and take it to the house, and it helped our team. It feels good to move on and play a team like Greeneville.”
The Panthers hope to pick up a few additional fans. After the Pearl-Cohn loss at Goodpasture wound up, the PA announcer exclaimed “all you Firebird fans, come out and holler for us next week!”
In other playoff action:
• Ensworth will make its first trip to the DII championship game after a miraculous 92-yard drive in the final minute that lifted the Tighers to a 20-19 victory over Brentwood Academy in a memorable semifinal Friday.
Trailing 19-13 and facing a fourth-and-37 deep in Ensworth territory, quarterback Drew Parker hit David Dingess with a 43-yard pass play. Parker then hit Cory Batey with a 13-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left, and Clayton McGlasson’s PAT won it.
Ensworth (9-2) gets a rematch with Chattanooga Baylor (10-1) in the BlueCross Bowl final Dec. 2 at Cookeville.
The Tigers beat Baylor 41-29 in Week 9. Baylor ended an Battle Ground Academy’s season 33-14 win in their semifinal contest.
•Thanks to a three-touchdown performance by Carter Tompkins and four turnovers by Pearl-Cohn, one on an interception on the final play Friday, Goodpasture makes another trip into the state semifinals following a 28-21 victory.
The Cougars will host Milan Friday in a Class 3A semifinal as they aim for their fourth trip to finals in the last five years.
Goodpasture beat Milan route to the 2006 finals but lost at Milan 28-7 in the 2008 semifinals.
• In what was dubbed the “Burro Bowl,” Oak Ridge edged Riverdale 28-21 in a Class 6A quarterfinal coached by ex-Hillsboro coaches Scott Blade (Oak Ridge) and Ron Aydelott (Riverdale).
Aydelott won a state at Hillsboro in 2003, then Blade won one in 2008.
On Friday, Oak Ridge is at Maryville, which lost the title game two years ago to Blade’s Hillsboro team.
Many attend Johnson funeral: The funeral service for Gerald Johnson at Woodlawn Home last Thursday was more like a Midstate coaches clinic.
Many in the Nashville area poured in to pay last respects to Johnson, who died at age 79 last week after a long bout with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Among those who spoke were Ralph Brown, his former football teammate at BGA in the late 1940s, an emotional Wes Elrod, who coached with Johnson, former quarterback David Armstrong who played for Johnson, and ex-Ryan coach Boots Donnelly, on whose staff Johnson served.
Al Young, who was the MVP on Johnson’s 1980 state championship baseball team at Maplewood, also was on hand.
All shared heartfelt and humorous stories about Johnson about which there were many.
Thanksgiving hoops: Ezell-Harding will host one of several Thanksgiving basketball tournaments, beginning Monday with these games: Goodpasture vs. Pleasant View (girls at 4, boys at 5:30), then Ezell vs. Hume-Fogg (girls at 7, boys at 8:30). On Tuesday, it’s Goodpasture vs. Hume-Fogg (girls at 7, boys at 5:30) and Ezell vs. Pleasant View (girls at 7, boys at 8:30).
FRA’s Mingus hits driving track: Franklin Road Academy’s Mason Mingus competes on the Panthers’ football, wrestling and track teams.
The 15-year-old sophomore is also a race car driver.
His next big start is the Snowball Derby, a 300-lap race in Pensacola, Fla. The event starts on Dec. 1 with practice runs and concludes with the main race Sunday, Dec. 5.