Looking ahead while weighing the past
The football axiom says never look past the next opponent.
George Quarles wouldn’t tell you any different, and the Maryville head coach didn’t Thursday night after his team moved to 8-0 with a 60-41 win over Farragut.
“All we do is practice hard, we work hard,” Quarles said after the win. “We haven’t talked about records, and all that stuff.
“We talk a little bit about getting the best seed for the playoffs but I don’t think we’re looking ahead.”
Quarles and the Rebels may not be looking ahead. But we aren’t Quarles or his Rebels, so we can feel free to look ahead anyway.
Maryville is no stranger to being 8-0 and in the hunt for the top-seed in the east side of the 6A TSSAA playoff football bracket — for the record, the Rebels have gone undefeated in the regular season eight of the last 10 years.
And, assuming they take care of business next two weeks — against William Blount and Lenoir City — that’s right where Maryville will be, on top of the east bracket looking down.
But looking down at who?
There’s potential roadblocks in Quad 1 (half of the east bracket, made up basically by Knoxville and everything east there of). But let’s use the term ‘potential’ pretty loosely here.
Sure, Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett is undefeated and looks daunting on paper. But we’ve all seen this movie before.
The Indians, currently 7-0 with an average of 56.7 points per game, should cruise through 1-AAA, but that’s upper East Tennessee.
Knoxville, come November, has traditionally been the stumbling block for Graham Clark’s teams, which, despite their well-above-average win percentage, lack a state title.
Quarles and Clark meeting in the quarterfinals looks likely, either in Blount or Sullivan County depending on how things shake out over the final three Friday nights.
Johnson City Science Hill is another 7-0, 4-0 team in 1-AAA, but the Hilltoppers will meet their hated rival, D-B, on Oct. 26 in what should be a district championship game.
The rest of Quad 1 is pretty tame. D-B is the only blemish on Sevier County’s 6-1 record and the Smoky Bears are the only ‘L’ on Jefferson County’s 6-1 mark.
Oak Ridge and Bearden are both 6-1, too, but Maryville has already passed those tests this season.
That leaves an unknown in McMinn County, another 6-1 team. The Cherokees are 4-0 in 5-AAA, but football’s transitive property of common opponents says that wouldn’t be much of a test for Maryville.
Farragut beat McMinn County 23-10 on Sept. 7. And Maryville proved to be 19 points better than Farragut Thursday night.
That leaves Quad 2, roughly starting Chattanooga and following Interstate 24 and depending on the teams extending in some years to just east of Nashville and west of McMinn County. Siegel (Murfreesboro) looks like the most likely to come out of the second quad. The Stars are 7-0 and their closest game thus far has been a 21-point win over Riverdale on Sept. 14.
The rest of the quad is full on two- and three-loss teams — teams that would need a March Madness type run to make it to Maryville — in Cane Ridge (6-2), Riverdale (5-2), Oakland (5-3), Franklin County (5-2), Bradley Central (4-3), Blackman (4-3) and Cookeville (5-3).
Quarles said Thursday night his coaching staff has admitted to looking at potential playoffs team, but that’s as far as it’s wen gone.
“They were telling me that if it ended today, all eight teams in our quad would have one loss or better,” Quarles said. “So obviously, that’s pretty good.”
Grant Ramey is a sports writer at The Daily Times. He can be reached at grantr@thedailytimes. You can follow him on Twitter @TDT_Sports.