By Chris Brooks for The News Examiner
The two-week appetizer plate of non-region games for Sumner County football teams has been cleaned and taken away.
Friday’s slate opens the main course as region play begins for all eight squads, with a critical Region 6-5A battle right off the bat in Nashville as Hendersonville visits Cane Ridge for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The game – to be televised locally on WUXP-30 – showcases two of the favorites in the region as both teams come off convincing victories last week.
The Commandos (2-0) defeated visiting Siegel 31-9 as junior Anthony Hughes’ compiled 185 combined yards – 138 on the ground – and had three receptions, with one for a touchdown.
“Anthony’s done a good job, but it’s been a team effort,” Hendersonville head coach Bruce Hatfield said. “Anthony will be the first to admit that. He’s got guys up front that are working hard for him.”
Hendersonville’s defense also chipped in by keeping the Stars from getting any sort of passing game going, as the Commandos broke up nine passes last week.
Cane Ridge (2-0) enters the game after a 27-19 victory at Mt. Juliet, with that contest coming off the heels of a 39-0 victory against Antioch to open the season.
The Ravens return nearly every starter from last season, with 20 such players on Cane Ridge’s roster. Quarterback D.J. Thorpe and all-region selections Emari Barton (running back-cornerback) and Noah Bayless (running back-linebacker) return to lead the Ravens, who won their last five regular season games last season before a 49-7 loss at Independence in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
“The quarterback’s accurate and he’s got a good arm,” Hatfield said of Thorpe. “He’s got good receivers. Just about everything, I think, is improved and more impressive (compared to last year). If you do cover the receivers, (Thorpe) can pull it down and run it. He’s a great athlete and a threat.”
Hendersonville won last year’s meeting at home by a 42-25 margin in the only contest between the two schools to this point.
The winner is one major step closer to not only a playoff berth, but also a region title, and that’s not easy to do in Week 3.
Brentwood Academy (1-1) at Pope John Paul II (2-0)
Game time: 7 p.m. at Jim Carell Athletic Complex
Last week: Brentwood Academy suffered a 35-21 loss at Trinity (Ky.); Pope John Paul II defeated visiting Coffee County 54-30.
Last meeting between the two teams: Brentwood Academy 49, Pope John Paul II 7 (Sept. 4, 2015)
The Knights’ 2-0 start is in part due to their turnover differential, as PJP II is plus-5 through two games. That type of takeaway ability will come in handy against top-ranked Brentwood Academy, who enters region play having suffered a 14-point loss at Trinity (Ky.) last week.
PJP II is the Eagles’ first in-state opponent this season, and quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall’s big-play ability will be on full display. Oatsvall threw an 88-yard touchdown pass last week and rushed for a 71-yard score as well.
The Knights have rushed for nine touchdowns in two games, as senior Drew Bledsoe found the end zone four times against Coffee County. Senior Ben Brooks has three rushing touchdowns and classmate Jamaal Thompson has the other two PJP II rushing scores.
The bad news for the Knights is that Brentwood Academy has not only dominated the series, the Eagles have also been perfect to date, winning all 13 prior contests by at least 19 points.
Beech (1-1) at Glencliff (0-2)
Game time: 7 p.m. at B.H. Thompson Stadium
Last week: Beech claimed a 42-21 victory at Rossview; Glencliff suffered a 54-0 loss to visiting Stratford.
Last meeting between the two teams: Beech 48, Glencliff 0 (Sept. 4, 2015)
Chaz Williamson had another big game last week against Rossview, as the Buccaneer junior rushed for 171 yards and two scores. The Buccaneers open region play at Glencliff and would like nothing more than to duplicate last year’s 48-0 victory at home.
The Colts have been outscored 84-12 in home losses to Whites Creek and Stratford to begin the season, and have lost eight consecutive games dating back to last year, scoring only 22 points in those losses. Glencliff has won just six games in its past 42 attempts dating back to the 2012 season.
White House (0-2) at Portland (0-2)
Game time: 7 p.m. at Edgar Johnson Stadium
Last week: White House suffered a 28-13 loss to visiting Goodpasture; Portland suffered a 41-21 loss to visiting Greenbrier.
Last meeting between the two teams: Portland 28, White House 17 (Sept. 4, 2015)
One of these long-time rivals will begin Region 5-4A play with a victory, and it will be a much-needed boost after both squads have gotten off to dreadful starts to the 2016 season.
Goodpasture’s 22-game losing streak came to an end at White House last week, in a game where the Blue Devils fell behind 28-0 before attempting to mount a fourth-quarter rally. Senior Preston Long found the end zone once and rushed for 91 yards on 22 carries for White House.
Portland allowed Greenbrier to post its highest scoring total in nearly two years last week, allowing 41 points to the Bobcats. The Panthers won last year’s game and get to host this year’s edition, but White House is out for revenge. The winner is potentially one more victory away from a playoff spot in the region, despite both teams’ struggles to begin the season.
Hunters Lane (0-2) at Gallatin (2-0)
Game time: 7 p.m. at Calvin Short Field
Last week: Hunters Lane suffered a 37-7 loss to visiting Hillwood; Gallatin collected a 35-28 victory at Springfield.
Last meeting between the two teams: Gallatin 54, Hunters Lane 6 (Sept. 4, 2015)
Jordan Mason compiled his second-consecutive 200-yard rushing game last week at Springfield, and could extend that streak again against Hunters Lane in the Green Wave’s home opener.
Much like Glencliff, Hunters Lane has struggled mightily in recent seasons. The Warriors’ lone victory last season came against Glencliff, and Hunters Lane has a 7-53 record since the beginning of the 2010 season.
Hillsboro (0-2) at Station Camp (1-1)
Game time: 7 p.m. at Station Camp
Last week: Hillsboro suffered a 41-13 loss at Oakland; Station Camp suffered a 45-7 loss at Wilson Central.
Last meeting between the two teams: Hillsboro 26, Station Camp 24 (double overtime, Sept. 4, 2015)
Neither team is very happy about last week, as both squads struggled in lopsided losses. Hillsboro’s setback came on national television at Oakland, while Station Camp fell behind early at Wilson Central and never recovered.
The Bison led last year’s game at Hillsboro late before the Burros forced overtime and eventually won in the second overtime period.
The Burros are 0-2 for the first time since 2013 and have been guilty of committing 10 turnovers in their first two games. Last week, they held Oakland to 10 first-half points before the Patriots ripped off a 31-point scoring spree in the second half.
Forrest (2-0) at Westmoreland (0-2)
Game time: 7 p.m. at Eagle Stadium
Last week: Forrest defeated Moore County 7-0 in a weather-shortened game; Westmoreland suffered a 35-0 loss at Macon County.
Last meeting between the two teams: Forrest 35, Westmoreland 7 (Sept. 4, 2015)
By the time this game is played, Forrest could be 2-0 or 1-0, depending on if the TSSAA wants to declare last week’s lightning-halted game against Moore County as a no-contest. Forrest led 7-0 at the time of the delay, but Moore County had yet to run an offensive snap before the stoppage. Other games in similar situations were declared a no-contest, so there’s a possibility that Forrest’s second win may be nullified before the game against the Eagles.
Westmoreland’s scoring drought continued last week as Macon County kept the Eagles off the scoreboard.
Westmoreland has not scored since a 42-6 loss at Watertown in the regular-season finale last year, a span of three games.
Reach Chris Brooks at email@example.com or at 615-575-7118. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @CB_SumnerSports, and on Snapchat @cbrooksgne.