HomeSportsFOOTBALL PICKS: First round of playoffs usually easy to pick

FOOTBALL PICKS: First round of playoffs usually easy to pick

The second season begins this week.

And for the next four weeks, the season ends for half the teams that play each week.

Whether you’re 0-10 (looking at you, MLK Prep, in Class 2A) or 10-0, every team still playing has the same opportunity and the same risks ahead of them.

If you win, you advance, and you’re a round closer to a state championship.

If you lose, you’re done and the dual-sport athletes can move on to basketball.

In my experience, the first round of the playoffs is typically fairly easily across the board to pick.

A lot of the matchups in this opening round aren’t quite as lop-sided as a 1-16 matchup in the NCAA basketball tournament, but there’s typically a noticeable difference between some of these teams. Usually the region champions against the No. 4 team from the adjacent region reflects this, but a few runner-up-third place matchups will look like this too.

Then as the games are played, a lot of those noticeably inferior teams fall off each week so that by the time we get to the quarterfinals in Round 3, it’s difficult to find a matchup that’s easy to pick.

I went 4-2 last week with my losses being Trinity Christian’s upset over Jackson Christian and North Side’s loss to Chester County.

So, at the risk of feeling too confident in my own picks, here’s the picks for the three playoff games this week involving Madison County teams.

University School of Jackson 27, Lakeway Christian 14: Lakeway Christian will travel more than four hours for this trip. According to Jay Lowery, who’s from Madison County and is an assistant coach and softball coach for Lakeway, this school is nearly an hour on the other side of Knoxville. So depending on how the LCA coaching staff decides to handle the logistics of this trip, the drive itself from the other end of the state could affect the visiting team. But even if it doesn’t, while USJ doesn’t have the team with the experience and size that last year’s Bruins squad had, this group has proven to be scrappy when its back is against the wall. I don’t know if “back against the wall” would describe the situation USJ is in this week, but the situation for them and everyone else is win or end your season. Derrick Pritchard’s team will enter this one on a mission and put in a performance similar to their win over Evangelical Christian a few weeks back and move on another week.

Jackson Christian 35, Ezell-Harding 7: If Jay’Len Mosley is gone for the year, the Eagles have something to prove. The one game they lost in the regular season was the one he wasn’t available for in the second half. There was some chatter on the sidelines as the game progressed last week at Trinity Christian about if the Eagles – whom many expected to compete for the Division II-A state championship – are still legitimate contenders for the gold ball. When a TCA fan was doing this speculation to a JCS fan, I stepped in and gave a few facts. While Mosley may be the biggest gun in the Eagles’ arsenal, he hasn’t been the only weapon. The Eagles have had time to prepare for a game, identify an objective and devise a plan. If they can execute the plan on the offensive side and the defense plays up to its standard, the Eagles have the potential to show they’re still a state title contender.

Marshall County 42, North Side 14: The Indians’ inconsistency has been the thorn in their side all season. Their inconsistent play kept them from scoring more than one touchdown last week and giving up two in the fourth quarter. With the exception of their loss against Dyersburg (which may be the best game they played in the regular season), five of their six losses can easily be blamed on inconsistency. That’s not a good thing going against a team like Marshall County. They lost last week to their region champion, Pearl Cohn by 25 points, but going into that game, they’d won seven straight games with the last six being by at least 37 points. Teams don’t dominate like that normally with inconsistent play. Can North Side win this game? Yes they can. They have the speed and athleticism to match up with Marshall County. Their coaching staff will put together a quality game plan to win. But the greatest coaches, the wisest planning and the best players won’t accomplish much against a quality opponent if they’re not playing consistently. Can North Side suddenly play consistently? If they can, they can win.

Brandon Shields,

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