One of the biggest reasons Whites Creek has dramatically improved on its 1-9 record of last year is the play of defensive tackle Michael Cain.
At the mid-point of the season, the Cobras (3-2) are better than .500 following a 12-8 victory last Friday over Glencliff. They head into the final half with a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
Cain was a one-man wrecking crew for Whites Creek on defense against Glencliff. He had 16 tackles, six for loss, four forced fumbles and two quarterback sacks.
And, oh yes, he returned a fumble 55 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, a huge play in the defense-heavy contest.
“He’s the best defensive player I’ve ever coached,” first-year coach Scott Murray, who came to the Creek after coaching three seasons at Glencliff, said. “He’s 5-9, 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.8 [seconds], unbelievably fast for someone his size.
“And he’s just a junior. He’s one of the most unbelievable kids I’ve ever had the chance to coach. He is the No. 4 ranked defensive tackle prospect in the Southeast [by Schuman’s National Underclassman rankings].”
Whites Creek fans got an early taste of how good Cain was in the pre-season Metro Jamboree in mid-August. He raced in to tackle an Antioch back in the end zone for a safety, the only points in a 2-0 Cobras victory.
Murray could not help last week but to think back to his time at Glencliff. It was a place where he took his 2009 team to the playoffs and a 5-5 record, marking the Colts’ first playoff trip since 2003.
“I wish those [Glencliff] kids nothing but the best,” he said. “Just for that one game last Friday night, I was pulling against them, but after it was over, I wish them all the best the rest of the way.”
Now, though, he is firmly focused on the future with his current team, which travels to Hillsboro Friday.
“I think we’re going to have to win at least 2-3 games out of our last five to get to the [Class 5A] playoffs,” Murray said.
That starts with Hillsboro.
“Hillsboro has a very athletic and very talented team,” Murray said. “Their defense really gets to the ball fast.”
It might be a low-scoring game. Hillsboro allowed high-scoring Franklin just 14 points, a season-low for the Rebels, in a 14-0 loss last Friday.
Whites Creek has one shutout and has allowed just 22 points the past two games.
A good deal of the credit goes to Cain.
• MBA 67th Spaghetti Supper: Montgomery Bell Academy will hold its traditional 67th annual Spaghetti Supper Friday, 5-7 p.m., in the school cafeteria prior to the Big Red’s homecoming game with Pearl-Cohn (7:30 p.m. Takeout orders may be picked up at the school from 3-5 p.m.
The Big Red (1-4) are trying to snap a four-game losing streak.
• Goodpasture visits Lipscomb: Goodpasture (2-3) visits longtime rival David Lipscomb (1-3) in the TV-30 Thursday Night Lights game this week. Both teams surprisingly enter the game with losing records.
• Siegel wins Ryan Volleyball: Siegel High won the annual Father Ryan Invitational volleyball tournament for the second straight year. The Stars beat Ensworth in the finals 25-16, 25-23 last Saturday.
• CPA holds onto No. 2 ranking: Christ Presbyterian Academy (4-0) held onto its No. 2 ranking (AP) in Class 3A for the second straight week, following a 28-0 region romp over Stratford.
The Lions visit David Academy Friday.
In DII, Brentwood Academy (4-1), BGA (5-0) and Ensworth (4-1) are ranked 2-3-4, respectively. behind unbeaten Chattanooga Baylor (5-0), which manhandled defending state champ Ensworth 42-14 on Friday.
BGA visits Ensworth Friday.
• Murfreesboro dominance: Neighboring Murfreesboro in Rutherford County can lay a legitimate claim to the best football in the state. All four Class 6A teams in the city are ranked in the top 10 in the state in AP — No. 2 Riverdale (5-0), No. 6 Blackman (4-1), No. 8 Siegel (4-1) and No. 10 Oakland (3-2).
Goodpasture at David Lipscomb, TV-30, 7 p.m.
Antioch at Glencliff
BGA at Ensworth
Boyd-Buchanan at Donelson Christian Academy
Brentwood High at Gallatin
Centennial at Wilson Central
Coffee County at Independence
CPA at Davidson Academy
FRA at Grace Baptist
Hillwood at Station Camp
Lancaster Christian at Nashville Christian School
Lawrence County at Stratford
Maplewood at East Lit
McGavock at Cane Ridge
Overton at Hunters Lane
Pearl-Cohn at MBA
Siegel at Maplewood
Smyrna at Franklin
Whites Creek at Hillsboro