2019 Record: 0-0
Another season of football game previews is here, as we kick off Week 1 action tonight.
Every team has mile-high confidence going into Week 1 that this year could be their year to hoist the golden football in Cookeville.
A new wrinkle this year will be previewing these games every Wednesday on my Sumner County Football podcast, which premiered Thursday, August 22 on mainstreetpreps.com
Without further ado, my Week 1 picks.
Game of the Week: Hendersonville vs. Oakland
In the Sumner County Week 1 Game of the Week, the Hendersonville Commandos host the Oakland Patriots at Memorial Stadium.
The Patriots are coming off a Class 6A state title and according to coach James Beasley is where every 6A team wants to get to.
“I think anytime you can play a top team early to see where you line up is a good thing for your program,” he said. “They are where every team in 6A wants to be and this week is a huge opportunity for us to see how competitive we are with them.”
The Commandos and Patriots battled last season in the 6A second round of the playoffs with Oakland coming out on top 28-0.
For the Commandos to come out on top in 2019, Beasley says three phases of the football game must be taken care.
“Early in the season everyone’s special teams are critical,” he said. “Turnovers are same way and you must limit the penalties. There is a little bit of not knowing what the other team will do because neither one of us has played a real game. Hopefully our kids go out there, play hard, compete and give ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
“We are excited about Week 1,” Beasley continued. “You work so long in the spring and summer months to get here. Once you put the pads on in August you are hitting yourself for the longest time but there is nothing like playing on a Friday night in a game that counts. We are anxious to see how we do.”
The Patriots have their eyes fixed on another gold football and their journey to Cookeville starts Friday night.
I do expect the Commandos to be competitive, but I think the depth, talent, speed, and size will be too much for Hendersonville to overcome over the course of four quarters.
Pick: Oakland 35, Hendersonville 14
Beech at Jackson North Side
The Beech Buccaneers hit the road for a nearly three-hour journey to Jackson, Tennessee to take on the Jackson North Side Indians.
The Indians are coming off an 8-5 season in 2018 that saw a third round playoff exit to Springfield.
I believe the Buccaneer football team has a chance to do some real special things this season, and so do the players and coaches at Beech.
The Indians have a good football team, and their size up front could create challenges for the Bucs.
Offensively Ja’Sean Parks should have a field day, rushing for more than 100 yards and a couple of scores.
Their march towards the 5A playoffs begin this week.
PICK: Beech 28, Jackson North Side 14
Gallatin vs. Lebanon
In what could be the game of the week in Sumner County, the Gallatin Green Wave open the season with 6A foe Lebanon High School at Green Wave Stadium.
Lebanon will enter Calvin Short Field with supreme confidence, but so will Gallatin.
Facing really good competition this preseason, the Wave held their own against the likes of CPA, Shelbyville, and Oakland, so the Blue Devils don’t scare Gallatin.
The Green Wave have been hungry defensively all preseason long and I expect Chad Watson’s team to come out on fire and show the mid state the Green Wave are back to their dominating ways.
One weapon that could provide the edge for the Green Wave is place kicker Trace Kelley. The senior has shown the ability to hit from close to 50 yards, so if Gallatin can get to at least the 30 they should be in scoring range.
Watson earns his first win at the helm.
PICK: Gallatin 24, Lebanon 21
Pope John Paul II vs. John Overton
The Knights have continuously gotten better as the preseason has moved along. Playing in their best game of the preseason last Friday night, JPII took down 6A Brentwood earning high confidence as they enter Week 1.
The Bobcats should present the Knights defense with some challenges, but I don’t believe John Overton will be able to hang with JPII over the course of four quarters.
This is arguably the most talented roster from top to bottom the Knights have had in school history and I don’t believe this team or this coaching staff is going to waste the potential in 2019.
The journey to seven wins begins on Friday night.
PICK: JPII 42, John Overton 21
Portland vs. Edmonson (KY) at Warren East HS
The Portland Panthers hit the road for their Week 1 contest against Edmonson (KY) on Friday night. The game will be played at Warren East in the in the Raiders inaugural bowl game.
The Panthers and Warren East have been playing one another the last two seasons, then the Raiders approached coach Cavanah and asked if they would be interested in a four-team bowl.
Portland will play Warren East (KY) in 2020.
We cannot leave out how the Wildcat defense will slow down the Panther offense.
Led by preseason Sumner County quarterback Caleb Mandrell, the Panthers should be able to score a multitude of points and put pressure on the Wildcat offense to do the same.
High expectations surround the Panther football team in 2019 and I expect them to get started out on the right foot.
PICK: Portland 35, Edmonson 21
Station Camp at White House
The Station Camp Bison hit the road to open the 2019 season at White House.
The Blue Devils are under a new regime in Ryan Hamilton who took over for retired Jeff Porter.
Despite the coaching change I still expect the Blue Devils to present a tough-nosed, hard-hitting football team that doesn’t beat themselves with silly mistakes.
Shaun Hollinsworth’s team is anxious to get 2019 started on the right foot, but Week 1 will not be an easy test for them.
The Bison will have to battle all four quarters before coming back home to Gallatin with a victory.
PICK: Station Camp 21, White House 14
Westmoreland at Livingston Academy
The Eagles hit the road Friday night to take on a very talented, experienced football team in the Livingston Academy Wildcats.
The two teams played last year with Livingston coming out on top 42-14.
Westmoreland has high expectations for 2019 and getting off to a fast start is key to the growth of this football team.
That said, the Wildcats return several starters from last year’s team, a quarterback with Division I size who can run and throw, and is surrounded by good skill kids. The Eagles will be outsized up front and will be put to the test against their spread look.
Westmoreland scheduled this football game in order to get prepared for their region. I think they take their lumps in Week 1 but are better off for it as the season progresses.
PICK: Livingston Academy 35, Westmoreland 21