By DAVID HUNTER
The two best middle school football teams in Rutherford County, Oakland and Whitworth-Buchanan, will face off twice this week.
The first meeting was on Tuesday night, which ended the regular season. Whitworth-Buchanan snapped a long Chargers winning streak with a 20-14 vcitory.
However, Saturday’s meeting will decide the 2013 county championship at Eagleville High School. Oakland hopes to repeat as champion, while Whitworth-Buchanan will be seeking its first-ever title.
Saturday’s kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Talon Field, and the game will be broadcast at 12:45 p.m. on WGNS (1450-AM, 100.5-FM, 101.9-FM).
Of course, Whitworth-Buchanan believes it is the underdog since Oakland is the defending county champion. However, its coach, John Howse, hopes his team follow up Tuesday with an encore performance on Saturday.
“When adversity hits, we must have the willpower to overcome it,” Howse said. “The county championship is like the movie “Rocky.’ We are facing the big Red machine. Oakland will try to knock us out early. Just like Rocky, we have to get off the ground and keep fighting until the final bell.”
The two teams met on Tuesday night at Riverdale High as a warm-up to Saturday’s main event.
Coming into the matchup, the Chargers are now 7-1. In the short history of the Rutherford County Middle School league, which began in 2010, Oakland has lost just three games. Prior to Tuesday, its last loss came in 2011.
As for Whitworth-Buchanan, it comes in with a 6-2 mark, and wants to make a little of history of its own by winning the school’s first ever football title. Two years ago, Whitworth-Buchanan lost the title game to La Vergne Middle.
“It would be a major accomplishment not only for our school but for the Buchanan community,” Howse said.
Howse has been pleased with the team’s performance this season, even though it was full of youth and inexperience coming into the season.
“Every practice is precious to us,” Howse said. “Within our two-hour practice block, we have to balance out between teaching football fundamentals, creating a competitive drive and developing a strong work ethic for these young men. We have to do all of those things while keeping them engaged and excited about practice. It is a challenge.”
Several Yellow Jackets have led the way this season, including running and defensive back Michael Scruggs, quarterback Christian Souffront, wide receivers Austin Valentine, Tyler James, Darius Jones and Ryder Geberhart and linemen Mario Sanders, Thad Chapman, Ben Thompson, Patrick Holt and Jasper Hathaway.