MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Over a four-year period, the best possible middle school football record, if you played a full schedule and won the championship game, is 36â€“0.
The Oakland Middle School Chargers are 31â€“3 over the last four years. They left little doubt on Saturday.
Oakland got revenge over the Whitworth-Buchanan Yellow Jackets with a 30â€“14 decisive victory to win the league title at the same time.
I say revenge because Whitworthâ€“Buchanan had beaten the Chargers 20â€“14 just five days before in the last game of the season.
Oakland came into the championship game at 7â€“1, while Whitworth-Buchanan entered at 6â€“2. They finished first and second in the regular season league race with three other teams (Rockvale, La Vergne and Blackman) only one game behind. We nearly had a four-way tie, and a real mess, for second.
On a sun-drenched Saturday with a good crowd and a nip in the air at Eaglevilleâ€™s beautiful Talon Field, the Chargers left little doubt.
Middle School football is different. A kicking game often doesnâ€™t exist. Most teams go for two, punts are often botched and arenâ€™t tried and kickoffs are an adventure. A good passing game is rare.
After Rockvale Middle sixth-grade cheerleader and choir member Kylie Skaggs did a beautiful job singing the National Anthem, it took Oakland 3:30 to cover the 79 yards to the end zone. All 79 yards were picked up by Cameron Snelling on seven plays. The final play was a 14-yard touchdown run. The conversion run was no good.
The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Oakland, and again the Chargers scored on a long run. This time it was 42 yards by Snelling, who also added a conversion run.
Whitworthâ€“Buchanan got the next onside kick but could not advance the ball. When Oakland got it back, Snelling scored from 76 yards out. This time fullback Dre Litaker ran in the conversion and it was 22â€“0 Chargers. We were still in the first quarter.
Whitworth-Buchanan won the final three quarters, but it was too late. Oakland scored again in quarter two on a Litaker run and Snelling conversion.
After the half, the Yellow Jackets stiffened, improved both their offense and defense and Oakland did not score after the half.
In the third quarter, Whitworthâ€“Buchananâ€™s Michael Scruggs, who plays many positions and seldom comes off the field, had a nifty 38-yard TD run. The conversion failed, but the Yellow Jackets were on the board.
The defense continued to hold and Scruggs got loose again in the fourth quarter with another TD run to make the final score 30â€“14 after QB Christian Souffront ran in the conversion.
I was impressed with a number of players. Certainly Oaklandâ€™s Snelling with 309 yards rushing was impressive, but so was Whitworth-Buchananâ€™s Scruggs, who finished with 111 yards rushing.
There were a number of impressive defensive players as well. Troy Hutson (who also is Oaklandâ€™s QB) had six tackles, Christian Cantrell had five, David Guardado and Mason Loupe had four each, while Justice Dingle had two tackles and knocked down a pass. Oaklandâ€™s defensive back Carson Key intercepted a pass and nearly had another one.
Whitworthâ€“Buchanan had a number of fine defensive players, including Austin Valentine and Ben Thompson with four tackles each. Patrick Holt Jr. had six tackles and Mario Sanders had seven.
In addition, Yellow Jacket Thadd Chapman was a rock on defense. He can play guard, tackle and linebacker, has good size and speed and had 10 tackles in the championship game.
Whitworth-Buchanan had another good year at 6 â€“ 3 under coach John Howse, while Oaklandâ€™s first-year coach Colin Wells finished at 7â€“1. It was Oaklandâ€™s second championship in a row.
Picks: I am 45-12 for the year. This week Iâ€™m going with Oakland, Siegel, Smyrna, Eagleville, Cookeville and Forrest.