Each week, experts from the Upper Cumberland will give their predictions for select high school football games in the area. These picks are presented by TLTSports Performance. TLTSports Performance is where the athletes of tomorrow, train today.
Rusty Ellis: Sports Director of the Upper Cumberland Reporter.
Justin Matheney: Co-Owner and lead color commentator of the Upper Cumberland Reporter. Former defensive backs coach at Tennessee Tech University.
Buddy Pearson: Longtime sports journalist in the Upper Cumberland. Commentator for the Upper Cumberland Reporter.
Noah McKay: Co-Owner, COO and lead play-by-play announcer of the Upper Cumberland Reporter.
Michael Lindsay: Senior Sports Reporter of the Upper Cumberland Reporter.
- Red Bank vs Stone Memorial
Pick: Red Bank 24 – Stone Memorial 27
Comments: I think this one’s going to come down to whoever has the ball last OR or can get multiple stops on defense in a row. Derik Samber said he wanted to get Crossville to a place they hadn’t been before, and I think he does it with a win over Red Bank.
Pick: Red Bank 21 – Stone Memorial 27
Pick: Red Bank 13 – Stone Memorial 21
Comments: The Panthers are poised to make Crossville history Friday evening with the city’s first-ever quarterfinal appearance, but Red Bank presents a formidable test. Stone senior QB Hunter Heavilon left last week’s game early, but I expect him to be full-strength Friday. The Panther defense gets it done once again.
Pick: Red Bank
Pick: Red Bank 14 – Stone Memorial 13
Comments: Two great defenses are set to battle. Stone Memorial has never made it past the second round of the postseason, where Red Bank is very familiar with this round. The health of Hunter Heavilon will be front-and-center, and the Panthers need their QB to play. Ultimately, I’ll lean with the more experienced team, but this one could go either way.
- Gordonsville vs South Pittsburg
Pick: Gordonsville 17 – South Pittsburg 34
Comments: I think the Tigers put together a solid showing against South Pitt, but I’ll take the team that’s consistently made it deep into the playoffs right now. Not a bad first season at all for Stephen Jackson.
Pick: Gordonsville 24 – South Pittsburg 32
Pick: Gordonsville 22 – South Pittsburg 27
Comments: South Pittsburg is mortal this year, but the Pirates still boast one of Tennessee’s best Class A teams and have a strong chance to get back to Cookeville and the state title game. Gordonsville is capable of picking up the win and takes it down to the wire, but ultimately South Pitt prevails.
Pick: South Pittsburg
Pick: Gordonsville 21 – South Pittsburg 35
Comments: It’s been a good year for Stephen Jackson at his first year back in Gordonsville, and the Tigers are capable of winning this game. If it was in Gordonsville I may feel differently, but South Pittsburg has to get the nod based on their body of work.
- Monterey vs Hampton
Pick: Monterey 13 – Hampton 21
Comments: I hope I’m wrong here because I want to see York-Monterey 2 (hint hint at my next pick), but this same matchup happened in the first round a year ago and Hampton proved to be just a bit too much for the Wildcats to handle. Add in that it’s a LONG road-trip for Monterey, and I just struggle seeing the Wildcats pulling this one out.
Pick: Monterey 27 – Hampton 28
Pick: Monterey 13 – Hampton 28
Comments: Hampton brings a strong rushing game off the mountain led by Levi Lunsford, who tallied 165 rushing yards during last week’s win over Oneida. Fans of power football will get their fill Friday in Monterey, but I think the Bulldogs bring just a little too much to the table.
Pick: Monterey 21 – Hampton 28
Comments: This is a much better matchup than the game in 2021. Both teams run the ball very well and are well-coached. I’ll lean towards the home team that knows what it takes to win in the second round.
- South Greene vs York
Pick: South Greene 28 – York 31
Comments: I think the Dragons are playing their best ball of the year and I hate it for anyone who has to go into Jamestown for the playoffs. It’s a tough environment to play in and I think that lethal York offense that put up 60 a week ago does just enough to get the job done this week.
Pick: South Greene 24 – York 28
Pick: South Greene 16 – York 34
Comments: Jamestown should be rocking Friday night as the Dragons have a quarterfinal spot on the line. York faces a 6-5 South Greene team that’s been shut out three times this season. Give me a decisive YAI victory.
Pick: South Greene 14 – York 28
Comments: The Dragons are the better football team in this one. If they are able to get it done it will be a testament to coach Wright and the players who have turned Jamestown back into a football town.
- Upperman vs East Hamilton
Pick: Upperman 28 – East Hamilton 14
Comments: If East Hamilton struggled to contain DeKalb’s run game, I think they have next to no shot to stop Upperman. I think the Bees pull ahead early and continue their excellent play on defense to make it to Crossville. Anyone else down for Stone-Upperman part 2?
Pick: Upperman 21 – East Hamilton 7
Pick: Upperman 27 – East Hamilton 14
Comments: The Bees are familiar with winning in November, and the trend should stay alive this week as they travel a long way to East Hamilton. Look for a strong Upperman defensive effort to hold the Hurricanes well below their season average.
Pick: Upperman 28 – East Hamilton 14
Comments: Juan Bullard is a stud and prevents big problems for the UHS defense, but the Upperman front-7 is dominating games and the secondary is turning into a no-fly zone. Combine that with a UHS rushing attack led by Terrance Dedmon and Jonathon Rushing and you get a formula for a solid Upperman victory.