|As we approach the second round of the state football playoffs this week, we again see teams like Maryville, Riverdale, Alcoa and Brentwood Academy among the favorites to win another state title in their particular classification.
Programs like these don’t miss the post season very often.
But after checking playoff history, these teams are far from the best when it comes to consecutive years of playoff participation.
It surprised me to find out that at least 10 teams rank higher than any of the four previously mentioned teams when it comes to post-season participation streaks.
I only had to go back three years to find when Riverdale last missed the playoffs.
The Warriors have won four state titles but missed the post season in 2008, ending a playoff streak that dated back to 1990.
Alcoa, a team that has won an amazing seven straight state championships on the gridiron, missed the playoffs nine years ago.
The Maryville Rebels, a team that has taken home a title trophy in five of the last seven years, didn’t participate in the playoffs in 1996.
Brentwood Academy, winners of 10 state titles, had to stay home in 1997.
My point here is to say that even the best programs come up short from time to time.
Excellence on the gridiron runs in cycles.
Other cases in point include David Lipscomb, Knoxville Catholic and Memphis Melrose.
All three programs are considered to be among the best.
All have won state championships. And all will be watching the playoffs from the stands this year.
Lipscomb’s omission from the post season is the first since 1992.
It’s the first miss for Knoxville Catholic since 1998.
Melrose, a team that finished the 2011 campaign at 2-8, is missing the post-season experience for the first time since 2001.
At the other end of the spectrum, four teams that have been experiencing a drought are dancing this year after several dry spells.
Excitement levels at Hamilton, South Doyle, Cocke County and Houston County were at an all-time high last week when the playoff pairings were announced.
Hamilton, an inner-city program in Memphis, which has had more coaches than I can count over the last 20 years, was one of the 32 teams participating in the 5A playoffs last week.
Hamilton’s last playoff appearance came in 1996.
Houston County earned a No. 6 seed in 2A after an absence in the playoffs since 2003.
Cocke County, a 5A school with a great football tradition in the 1990s, hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2002 – until this year.
And South Doyle’s streak of nine straight years of missing the post season finally came to an end last week when the Cherokees earned a slot on the 5A brackets.
Spreading the wealth around is a good thing. MP
Murphy Fair has published Tennessee High School Football for the past 24 years. His website (murphyfair.com) gives high school fans further insight into the prep football scene.