Baylor is back in, but two others still have work to do.
The Red Raiders, as well as South Pittsburg and Calhoun, played in state football championship games last season, and those three are now the area’s only remaining teams in this year’s high school playoffs.
The Red Raiders overcame five turnovers to hold off Christian Brothers and punch their ticket back to the Division II-AA championship game, where they will get a chance to avenge last year’s last-second loss to Ensworth. Those teams have this week off to prepare for the Dec. 1 title game at Tennessee Tech.
Top-ranked Baylor (11-1) whipped Ensworth by 28 points earlier this season, but the Tigers (11-1) have won seven straight since by at least 20 points.
“We’ve talked all year about unfinished business. Now you have a chance to go back it up,” Baylor coach Phil Massey told his team after Friday’s win.
Meanwhile, defending Class 1A champ South Pittsburg is back in the semifinals and looking to play in the title game for the fourth time in the last five years. The Pirates will continue their road trip around the state, traveling for a third consecutive week when they visit familiar foe Gordonsville (10-2).
It will be the ninth playoff meeting between the Pirates and Tigers in the last 11 years and 12th time overall they have met in the postseason. South Pittsburg (11-2) has won the last three matchups, but Gordonsville, which is led by Mr. Football lineman finalist Tyler Coen, has won nine straight games this season, eight of those by the state’s 35-point mercy rule.
“This is probably the best team they’ve had in a long time, at least as far as the times we have played them,” Pirates coach Vic Grider said. “They’re just solid all the way around, and especially up front. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Calhoun raced out to a 37-0 lead and then held off Brooks County last Friday and will travel this Friday to Dublin in Georgia’s Class AA quarterfinals. The Yellow Jackets are two wins from reaching the state title game for a fourth straight time, but they have yet to win the championship.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...