This season, a group of experts will predict the outcomes of the high school football games for Cookeville, Livingston Academy, Monterey, Upperman and White County.
The experts all have experience covering high school sports in the Upper Cumberland with a variety of outlets.
Note: These predictions are purely opinions. The Upper Cumberland Reporter wishes each of the teams in the Upper Cumberland good luck in their contests.
*Prediction record noted by ()
Noah McKay: COO and play-by-play announcer at the Upper Cumberland Reporter (10-0)
Chase Hoke: Color commentator at the Upper Cumberland Reporter (9-1)
Rusty Ellis: Sports Director at the Upper Cumberland Reporter (9-1)
Kailee Means: Sports Reporter at the Upper Cumberland Reporter (9-1)
Jeff Simmons of the Warren County Sports Authority
#2 Mt. Juliet (4-0, 1-0) vs White County (3-1, 0-1)
Mt. Juliet: 38-20 win at Warren County
White County: 41-13 win over Cookeville
Pick: Mt. Juliet 28 – White County 21
Comments: Every part of me wanted to pick the Warriors this week. If they were to win this game, it wouldn’t shock me at all. The thing that I come back to, however, is Mt. Juliet has the athletes that White County lacks. The Warrior defense will keep it close and Malaki Dowell will get his, but I’ll take Mt. Juliet in a close battle.
Pick: White County 21 – Mt. Juliet 17
Comments: White County performed phenomenal last week and Mt. Juliet will know that Malaki Dowell along with some other players are going to be hard to stop. Now I get that Mt. Juliet is coming off of a win against Warren County, but you have to acknowledge that that was Warren’s first game of the season after COVID. I don’t think you can take much from that win other than Warren County hung in there and made it a game.
Pick: White County 24 – Mt. Juliet 20
Comments: Last week’s win over Cookeville seems like the type of win where the Warriors put it all together, and built a lot of momentum. Mount Juliet is a good team with a lot of weapons, but they may get caught overlooking the Warriors in this one. Give me the Warriors!
Pick: White County 24 – Mt. Juliet 14
Comments: Let me open this by clarifying, I picked Mt. Juliet 31-24 on the UCR Coaches Show this week. BUT, we film that show on Wednesday, and we do the Expert Predictions on Thursday, so I am officially changing my pick. After taking a deep-dive on the Golden Bears matchup against Warren County, I’m not convinced they’ll be able to sustain drives against the Warriors stingy defense. Meanwhile, I know nobody can completely stop Malaki Dowell. The Warriors will have a huge home-field advantage, and I’m picking them to come away with what may be the biggest win in school history.
Pick: Mt. Juliet 28 – White County 21
Comments: Wow – if I wasn’t going to be in Cookeville for Pioneers vs. Cavaliers, I’d want to be at home watching this one on the UC Reporter feed (great stuff guys!). I may be sneaking in some views during the breaks if I can. I saw the Golden Bears up close last week and they’re no joke – I believe Griffin Throneberry is their best player and they need to make him the feature QB when it matters (and it’s going to matter this week).
I’ve seen the rumblings about a Mr. Football run for White County’s phenomenal playmaker Malaki Dowell. Take it from somebody who covered a Mr. Football last year, these are the games that win people those awards. If Dowell wants the hardware in December, then he’ll need another 300-yard, 4 or 5 TD game against the Golden Bears. I’m terrified picking against him, but give me Mt. Juliet because of their big-game experience.
Livingston (0-4, 0-1) vs Macon County (3-1, 1-0)
Livingston: 35-18 loss against York
Macon County: 34-7 loss against Trousdale County
Pick: Macon County 35 – Livingston Academy 17
Comments: The Wildcats gave us a glimpse at what they could be when they put it all together, but this is still a young team with pieces that are still figuring out where they fit best. Jaden Lawrence is the most non-talked about receiver in the Upper Cumberland right now, and he’s been fantastic. Brodey Coffee needs other players to step up around him though. Give me the Tigers.
Pick: Macon County 41 – Livingston 7
Comments: Macon County’s defeat of Dekalb County solidified, for me, they are a top-3 team in the region. Livingston needs to still be looking for improvements. We have seen some but not enough for me to say they can go out and beat Macon County.
Pick: Macon County 38 – Livingston 20
Comments: Livingston continues to improve each week, and look so much better than they did at the start of the season. I just feel like Macon County is too disciplined of a team to get caught sleeping on the Wildcats, especially after a tough loss last week. Give me the Tigers!
Pick: Macon County 42 – Livingston 14
Comments: This LA team is improving, but they are running into a very motivated Tigers squad after a lopsided loss against Trousdale County. I’ll take the Tigers in convincing fashion.
Pick: Macon County 48 – Livingston 7
Comments: This doesn’t feel like it needs to be complicated. One team has a solid record and the other hasn’t come close to winning a game this year. I’ve seen some of the film from Macon County’s win over DeKalb County (no slouch this year) – the Tigers should have no trouble Friday.
Warren County (0-1) vs Cookeville (1-3, 0-1)
Warren County: 38-20 loss against Mt. Juliet
Cookeville: 41-13 loss at White County
Pick: Warren County 24 – Cookeville 21
Comments: Okay, this was the toughest one for me to pick. I want to pick Cookeville, but there was a lot that we saw in week four against White County that keeps me from doing so. The Cavaliers lacked discipline above all else, and against Warren County’s offense, that’s one of the things they will need the most. I like Matt Turner’s coaching style as well, so give me the Pioneers in a close game.
Pick: Warren County 28-21
Comments: This is a toss up, but after seeing how Cookeville played last week against White County I am not 100% set on them winning this game. I think Warren County now has a little experience under their belt and will pressure Mace Thomsen and avoid Cade Apple to get the win.
Pick: Cookeville 17 – Warren County 14
Comments: Cookeville struggled mightily last week against the stingy White County defense. I expect the Cavaliers to do a better job of protecting QB Mace Thomsen and establishing the running game early. Give me the Cavaliers!
Pick: Cookeville 21 – Warren County 17
Comments: It’s been a LONG time since Warren County came to Cookeville and left with a win, and they may do it this week, but this Cookeville team has their backs against the wall and that could make them dangerous. Jimmy Maynord will have his team ready to play, and I think they keep their playoff hopes alive with a big win.
Pick: Warren County 27 – Cookeville 21
Comments: Come on, there’s no way the WC Sports Authority is picking against Warren County, even if the Pioneers haven’t won in Cookeville since 1987 (I was 1 – were any of our other experts alive??). Warren County has never won on Cookeville’s field since the school moved its games to campus either. Why will this year be different? Well, I’m banking on Braylon Grayson to be great again (181 total yards, TD and 12 tackles against Mt. Juliet last week) and the Pioneer defense to come up with just enough stops to further complicate the issues for the Cavaliers this year.
Monterey (3-1, 1-0) vs Rockwood (1-2)
Monterey: 7-6 loss at Stone Memorial
Rockwood: 21-0 loss against Kingston
Pick: Monterey 31 – Rockwood 7
Comments: These next two picks were much easier than the previous ones. First, I see Monterey bouncing back in a big way to start 2-0 in region play. And this would send a message to the rest of the region. It would say that the Wildcats are for real, and the rest of 2A should pay attention to them. The Wildcats’ defense locks down Rockwood and the offense controls the game from start-to-finish.
Pick: Monterey 14 – Rockwood 7
Comments: Monterey played a very good Stone team this past week and I think they are ready and prepared to travel to Rockwood. This will be Rockwood’s first region game while Monterey has already beat York.
Pick: Monterey 21 – Rockwood 14
Comments: Monterey is a really good team, that is so stubborn on defense. Four weeks in a row that they have only allowed one score. I feel like that streak ends this week, but Monterey still gets back in the win column. Give me the Wildcats!
Pick: Monterey 28 – Rockwood 7
Comments: The Wildcats are looking to bounce back after a narrow defeat last week, and I think they’ll get it done on the road. With a win they’ll enter the drivers seat in the region, and I ultimately think they are the better team on both sides of the ball.
Pick: Monterey 21 – Rockwood 7
Comments: Looking at both these teams, one thing that seems certain is Monterey can play some defense. Teams rarely lose when they allow one score or less every game and Monterey is allowing 6.5 points per game. Give me a good defense – those usually travel well. A final tibdit – there was talk Warren County would see Rockwood this season, but that series didn’t materialize (and the Pioneers also had to cancel their trip to Ridgeway in Week 3 anyway).
Stone Memorial (3-1, 1-0) vs #10 Upperman (3-1, 1-0)
Stone Memorial: 7-6 win over Monterey
Upperman: 19-14 loss at Fayetteville
Pick: Upperman 41 – Stone Memorial 10
Comments: If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Bees, it’s to trust Adam Caine following a loss. Upperman has never lost a region game under Caine, and back-to-back losses are near non-existent. The front seven will have a size advantage on Stone’s line, and I think they’ll be in the backfield regularly. We saw more of Ty Dutchess’ ability to throw the ball last week, and that’s encouraging for a Bees team that is already considered a contender. I think they roll.
Pick: Upperman 35 – Stone Memorial 21
Comments: Upperman barely lost to the reigning 1A state champs that will more than likely be at state again this year. Stone on the other hand, barely beat a team that is several classifications below them. Hunter Heavilon for Stone is great but I think Upperman has so much more than Stone does this year.
Pick: Upperman 42 – Stone Memorial 21
Comments: I honestly think this is the easiest game for me to predict this week. Upperman is coming off their first loss, and it is a game they feel like they should have won. The Bees are going to be motivated and ready to play in this one. Give me the Bees!
Pick: Upperman 42 – Stone Memorial 14
Comments: Stone Memorial is a good team playing well, but Upperman is a great team with a bone to pick. They are angry after last week’s game (which ended in controversial fashion) and I think they’ll get the anger out on Friday. I’ll take the Bees to roll.
Pick: Upperman 28 – Stone Memorial 7
Comments: This should become a really fun region matchup in the coming years. Coming off a close road loss to Fayetteville, the Bees need a quick bounce back to establish strong footing in the region race.