TSSAA playoffs first round matchups
Friday, Nov. 8
Pope John Paul II (3-6) at Baylor (6-4)
McCallie (3-7) at Father Ryan (6-4)
South Pittsburg has a bye
Boyd-Buchanan has a bye
Rockwood (7-3) at Silverdale Baptist (9-1)
Middle Tennessee Christian (6-4) at Marion County (8-2)
Grundy County (4-6) at Upperman (10-0)
Tyner (4-6) at Smith County (6-4)
Cascade (7-3) at Notre Dame (7-3)
Sequatchie County (5-5) at Polk County (8-2)
Marshall County (4-6) at Signal Mountain (7-3)
Central (5-5) at Sequoyah (8-2)
East Ridge (5-5) at Hixson (7-3)
Lenoir City (5-5) at Rhea County (9-1)
Cleveland (7-3) at White County (8-2)
Oak Ridge (7-3) at East Hamilton (8-2)
Stone Memorial (6-4) at Ooltewah (8-2)
Bradley Central (5-5) at Maryville (10-0)
Since its inception, the TSSAA football playoff six-classification format has created controversy. But it can also produce intriguing matchups, and this year there's a chance for several area rematches in the first two rounds alone.
When the brackets were released Saturday, 20 Chattanooga-area teams had earned postseason berths, including East Ridge not only narrowly qualifying but earning a second shot at District 6-AA foe Hixson.
"I hate that the playoffs are set up where you have to play somebody out of your own district in the first round," Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "It's not a good thing. We just played them four weeks ago and nearly wound up playing Central, who we just played two weeks ago.
"Hopefully after losing to Brainerd [this past Friday], we'll go into the game with a chip on our shoulder. We talked about how to handle success, and then after wrapping up the district championship last week we wound up coming out Friday and not showing up. Now we have to get ready for a team we just had a tough game with a few weeks ago."
The Wildcats trailed East Ridge before a third-quarter touchdown led them to a 19-14 win in that meeting less than a month ago.
"I'm just happy just to be in the playoffs, first of all," Pioneers coach Tracy Malone said. "To be honest, I like opening up against a team we've already seen. It's the old 'devil you know better than the one you don't,' and we played them close last year and earlier this season."
The only other matchup of two area teams in the first round is Sequatchie County at Polk County in 3A, but if Sequatchie's Indians win that one they could be in a rematch against District 7 foe Notre Dame, which opens against Cascade. Also, in the 5A bracket, if East Hamilton and Ooltewah each advance they would earn a rematch in what has become one of the area's top rivalries. And although they didn't meet during the regular season this year, if state-ranked Cleveland and Rhea County each win, the longtime foes would face off in the second round.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having 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, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...