Hillsboro’s defense has faced a number of challenges from high-powered offenses this season.
Even so, the Burros (7-4) haven’t seen anything similar to what awaits in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs — a trip to Beech on Friday.
The top-ranked Bucs (11-0) average almost 40 points per game and scored a season-high 64 points in a romp over Kenwood in the first round last Friday. They have only had two close games.
Jalen Hurd, a Mr. Football finalist who has rushed for 2,192 yards and 28 touchdowns, is Beech’s primary weapon. He was slowed recently with a shoulder injury but was full-speed in a 235-yard, three-touchdown performance in the 64-28 victory over Kenwood.
“They have a fantastic running game, with great team speed and an excellent offensive line," Hillsboro first year coach Craig Clayton said. “They don’t need to spread it out. They just come right at you. You have to be very disciplined with what you’re doing defensively, or they can really hit you with the big play.
“Maybe [Hurd] won’t be quite at full speed this week,” he added with a smile.
Hillsboro has some offense of its own with senior tailback Robert Kelley, who has 945 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
The Burros ride in with a three-game winning streak, which included a 17-12 playoff opening victory at Antioch last week, which included a pair of rushing touchdowns by Kelley.
But they won’t be a full strength. Clayton said that junior defensive back Logan Burns sustained an ACL injury while blocking an extra point last week. He is out for the remainder of the season.
“That was quite a blow, and we also have a couple of our backs banged up, and that hurts because they go both ways,” Clayton said.
Beech, the 2009 state champ, is making its sixth straight playoff appearance. Twice in the past five years (2007, 2008) a loss to Hillsboro ended the Bucs’ season.
• Until last Friday, Donelson Christian Academy had not won a playoff game since 2007, a year it reached the state semifinals. Not much was expected from the Wildcats (6-4) this season until they beat SBEC last Friday.
Next up is a trip to undefeated University School of Jackson (10-0).
• Overton (7-4) won its first playoff game since 2004 with a 6A victory at Arlington last week. The Bobcats visit Brentwood High Friday.
• Nashville Christian School (9-2) will try to avenge an early season loss to Clarksville Academy when it visits the Cougars in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs.
Overton at Brentwood High
Hillsboro at Beech
Centennial at Clarksville Northeast
Maplewood at White House
Westmoreland at Christ Presbyterian Academy
Nashville Christian School at Clarksville Academy
Briarcrest at Brentwood Academy
McCallie at Ensworth
Montgomery Bell Academy at Christian Brothers
Donelson Christian Academy at University School of Jackson
St. George’s at Franklin Road Academy