By MURPHY FAIR
The playoffs are finally here! It’s an exciting time for teams representing 200 different high schools across the state. This year’s event has many of the same familiar faces that we see virtually every year. But the cast of characters listed on the 2012 brackets has some new players to consider – teams that have not been to the dance in quite a while.
Whether your favorite team is listed among the participants or not, you can’t help but feel the spirit and excitement that the event brings to dozens of communities across the state. It’s a wide variety of schools that includes just about every letter of the alphabet except a couple.
With that said, we highlight 24 schools, 23 of which have teams that are playoff bound. There are no football-playing schools that start with “Q” or “X” in Tennessee.
A is for ALCOA. It’s hard to imagine the playoffs without the Tornadoes.
B is for BLACKMAN. With its upset wins over Riverdale and Brentwood, the Blaze should make plenty of post-season noise.
C is for CANE RIDGE. It’s the first playoff appearance for the District 12-AAA champs.
D is for DOBYNS BENNETT. Can the Indians go deep into the playoffs?
E is for ENSWORTH, Tennessee’s only nationally ranked team.
F is for FRIENDSHIP CHRISTIAN. Next year, the Commanders will compete in Division II.
G is for GORDONSVILLE. The Tigers have a great shot to win it all.
H is for HENRY COUNTY. Can the Patriots successfully defend their 5A crown?
I is for INDEPENDENCE. The Eagles will finish second to Brentwood, despite losing to 3-7 Ravenwood last week.
J is for JACKSON NORTHSIDE. The Indians enter the playoffs undefeated.
K is for KNOXVILLE WEST. Keep an eye on the Rebels. They could win the 5A title.
L is for LENOIR CITY. The Panthers are another excellent 5A team, too.
M is for MARYVILLE. Nine state titles in the last 12 years. What else can you say?
N is for NASHVILLE CHRISTIAN. At 8-2, the Eagles play at home this week.
O is for ONEIDA. The Indians could be a tough foe in 2A.
P is for PEABODY. Joe Gaddis is working his magic once again.
R is for RIVERDALE. A win over Cookeville in Week 9 got the Warriors into the Big Dance.
S is for SIEGEL. The Stars have enough talent to seriously challenge Maryville.
T is for TROUSDALE COUNTY, a school making its 25th straight playoff appearance.
U is for U.S.J. The Bruins have already knocked off St. George’s, last year’s champ.
V is for VOLUNTEER. The Volunteer Falcons are not going to qualify.
W is for WHITEHAVEN. Expect to see the Tigers in Cookeville again this year.
Y is for YORK INSTITUTE. A loss to the Owls doesn’t get the Dragons any momentum in the playoffs.
Z is for ZION CHRISTIAN. The Eagles lost to D.C.A. but I think they still get a playoff bid.
(Murphy Fair has published Tennessee High School Football for 25 years. His syndicated radio show, Murphy’s Matchups, can be heard Monday evenings at 8 o’clock on WGNS, AM-1450 & FM 100.5. His website, murphyfair.com, gives high school football fans further insight into the prep football scene).