Looking ahead to 2nd half of football season

Entering Week 6 of the high school football season, most teams have played five games, meaning they’re halfway through the regular season.

Here’s a look at each team in Madison County, where they stand within their region and what the second half of their season looks like regarding what they need to do to get into the playoffs.

Teams are listed by number of wins so far, starting with the most.

Jackson Christian (5-0 overall, 1-0 in Division II-A West)

The Eagles are 1-0 against Division II-A teams so far this year and 3-0 against Division II-AA teams. Two of the first three games were close games with one of them requiring a second-half comeback to win, but the Eagles have hit their stride on both sides of the ball.

Four of their next five games are in region play, and the biggest of the group looking at the entire list could be this week as they travel to Tipton-Rosemark, who’s also undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the state (Jackson Christian is ranked No. 2). But then the week after that is First Assembly Christian School, who’s currently 4-0. And then the last week of the season has a Thursday night matchup against city and region rival Trinity Christian waiting, and depending on what happens between now and then, could be the region championship game. The top three teams in the region go to the playoffs, and since the Eagles already have a win, they just need to win two of those four games to claim at least third place to get into the postseason.

University School of Jackson (3-2 overall, 0-0 in Division II-AA West)

The good news for the Bruins is they started off with wins against teams that will probably be in the playoffs in November. The bad news is their offense has had a tough time moving the ball the last two weeks, and they’ve been outscored 69-6 in those two losses.

But the second half of the season brings with it a clean slate in region play. All five of their remaining games are league games. There’s only been one league game so far with projected frontrunner Lausanne hammering Evangelical Christian earlier in the season. And with the exception of Lausanne, no one else in the region is having a banner year so far. So the Bruins with their youth and lack of size are very much in the race a playoff spot, if not more. But they’ve got to win three of five games to get to the postseason.

Trinity Christian (3-1 overall, 1-0 in Division II-A West)

The Lions have had an interesting season so far that began with a comeback win over Chester County, a cancelled game the next week because of faulty lighting, a tough loss at home the next week against a non-region rival, a record-breaking win on the road and a previously unscheduled game last week on a Thursday night.

But the Lions have persevered and are looking competitive coming out of it. They’ve got a game every week now with a couple of tough non-region games at Riverside this week (ranked No. 2 and has been No. 1 in 2A this year) and at Greenfield on Oct. 6, who appears to be a tough 1A squad. After a region game against Harding Academy next week, the Lions end their season with three consecutive region games against teams that are undefeated right now – at First Assembly Christian School, Tipton-Rosemark at home and hosting Jackson Christian. With a region win already, if they win two of those remaining four region games, they should be in the playoffs.

North Side (2-3 overall, 1-1 in Region 6-4A)

The Indians have showed flashes of brilliance at times this year, the brightest of those flashes coming on the road at Lexington in a fourth-quarter comeback. But unfortunately for North Side, the offense has consistently struggled to score against their tougher competition.

Looking ahead, the Indians are in a six-team region, so they should only need two wins to finish in the top four of their region. So that win over Lexington means they’re halfway to a playoff berth and they’ve probably already played the best team in the league when they fell to Hardin County last week. So once they get through Dyersburg this week and JCM next, their focus will be all region games with South Side, South Gibson and Chester County all coming up on the back end of the season. And if North Side can begin to play consistently like they did at the end of that Lexington game, all three of those games appear to be winnable, which could put the Indians in contention for a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

South Side (2-3 overall, 0-1 in Region 6-4A)

The Hawks have struggled the last couple weeks against quality teams from Class 4A, but for the most part, if they’re not winning, they’re still competitive into the fourth quarter for a chance to win.

With the exception of a trip to Bolivar next week, the remainder of the Hawks’ season is a bunch of region games. They need to win two of those four games to have a chance to make the postseason. Their defense is stingy, and their offense has the ability to eat a lot of time off the clock and shorten the game. Those two things combine to give South Side a chance in most situations to have a shot at winning in the fourth quarter.

Jackson Central-Merry (1-3 overall, 0-2 in Region 6-2A)

The Cougars opened win a big win at Liberty and nearly won in Week 2 at South Side. Since then, they’ve put respectable numbers up in losses to region rivals.

Since their bye week came in Week 4, JCM is now scheduled to play every week with one of those games being a non-region game (North Side). Being in an eight-team region, the best way JCM can assure itself of a playoff berth is to win four of those. Those games are at Adamsville this week, home games against Huntingdon and Peabody then trips to Riverside and Gibson Co.

Liberty (0-5 overall, 0-2 in Region 7-3A)

The Crusaders have struggled to score or keep their opponents from scoring all season. But they did put together a competitive half at South Side in Week 3.

If the Crusaders can play like that consistently in this second half of the season, they’ve got a chance to compete for the playoffs because all of their remaining games are region games against Scotts Hill, Covington, McNairy Central, Dyersburg and Bolivar.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news