By MURPHY FAIR
This week's scheduled Thursday Night Lights telecast of the game between Oakland and Blackman on MyTV30 just might be the highest rated matchup in the six -year history of the TV program's existence. But it didn't necessarily get that way by design.
Back in June when officials at the Nashville station decided to add this particular battle to the lineup of games for this season, those in charge of selecting such games had high hopes of where these teams would be ranked in late October. The realization that Oakland and Blackman would be ranked among the top three teams in the state, however, was not even a dream in anyone's mind four months ago.
Coach Thomas McDaniel of Oakland and Blackman's Philip Shadowens, likewise, would surly have shied away from predicting that their teams would have been ranked second and third in the state, respectively, this late in the season.
Call it the luck of the draw, help from yours truly or whatever you like, but officials at the Nashville TV station couldn't be happier about this week's matchup. The Week 10 season finale (top ranked Ensworth at #6 Brentwood Academy) also has plenty of potential to be a highly viewed game.
Trying to come up with a quality list nearly three months before the season begins is always a difficult task. The list of things that can go wrong with a team over the course of a season can often be staggering. As much of a team effort it has become to select games for each season, getting a perfect list compiled is not a perfect science.
Injuries can and often do play a key role in how productive a team will be in a given season. Weather has also been known to help a team score a major upset and knock another from lofty rankings. Even a judgment call by an official can change the outcome of a game.
With so many offensive starters returning to Pearl Cohn's lineup this year, I truly thought the Firebirds would have given M.B.A. a much better game rather than being shut out, 38-0. I also thought the Beech vs. Siegel game would have been much closer. But none of us knew that Beech RB Jalen Hurd would suffer a season ending shoulder injury in his team's opening season thriller against Station Camp.
The concept of putting regular season high school games on TV continues to expand. Thursday Night Lights, which originated in Nashville, now airs in a dozen markets across the country. High school teams in Las Vegas, San Antonio and Cincinnati, as well as nine other cities, are now able to enjoy the experience.
MyTV30 will expand its high school coverage this year to basketball. At least seven regular season battles on the hardwood will be aired on the Nashville station beginning in January.
Here's hoping this week's game at Oakland lives up to its billing. Both teams are winners in my book, regardless of the outcome.
Murphy Fair has published Tennessee High School Football for 25 years. His statewide syndicated radio show (Murphy’s Matchups) can be heard locally Fridays just before kickoff on WBRY.).