The high school football regular season is quickly drawing to a conclusion, and for three of the local teams, playoff implications weave their way into the story lines this Friday night.
West Greene is in the biggest need for a win as it is currently on the bubble for a postseason berth. The Buffaloes travel across the county to take on Chuckey-Doak in a 7:30 p.m. matchup at the Black Hole.
The Black Knights are currently safe in their quest to make the Class 3A playoffs, but wins the next two weeks could secure them a first-round home game. Chuckey-Doak can also lay claim to the 2012 County Champions title with a win.
Greeneville could also use a win to improve its seeding when the Class 4A bracket is released. The Devils make the long trip to Grainger tomorrow night.
South Greene is the only county team that doesn't have a shot to extend its season come playoff time. The Rebels are at Claiborne this week.
West Greene at chuckey-doak
It doesn't get any bigger than this for both teams.
West Greene (4-5 overall, 2-3 District 2-AA) has a bye in Week 10, meaning this is the Buffaloes last chance to make their claim for a postseason spot.
The Buffaloes are currently 31st in the Class 3A playoff standings, with only the top 32 teams advancing.
"Our team understands what's on the line," West Greene head coach Joe Case said. "We've been in situations like this before."
"We've had a good week at practice and are ready to play a good Chuckey-Doak team."
West Greene is coming off a 34-0 rout of rival South Greene, a game in which the Buffaloes piled up 562 yards of total offense.
Sophomore running back Jonathan Padgett churned out 211 rushing yards in the victory, and five different players scored touchdowns.
The one negative that Case saw for his team during the game was the 162 yards worth of penalties they accumulated.
"That's something we have been working hard to get corrected this week," Case said. "We can't get to where we want to go by committing that many penalties."
Otherwise, Case is pleased with how his team has rebounded from its 1-4 start to the season.
"I like where we are right now," he said. "Of course, as a coach you are never pleased and always see room for improvement."
"You have to or you aren't going to be in this profession very long. But I'm proud of the guys for how they've turned it around."
At Chuckey-Doak, first-year head coach Aaron Christian has his team poised for its first out-right county championship in 20 years.
The Black Knights are currently 18th in the Class 3A playoff standings, and are right on the boarder of whether they will travel or be at home during the first round.
"The kids have a chance to do something we haven't done here in 20 years, as far as winning the county championship," Christian said. "It's a goal that we openly talk about, and really want to accomplish."
"West Greene is playing their best football of the year right now. We've seen them on film and they are looking solid. We take it as a big challenge."
The Black Knights (5-3, 2-2) haven't lost back-to-back games all season. They are coming off a 42-6 loss to Greeneville.
Chuckey-Doak finished with only 168 yards of offense in the contest, and 152 of those came via the running of standout back Bryce Malone.
Malone has rushed for 308 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
"He is one of the best backs in the state," Case noted.
Both West Greene and Chuckey-Doak have battled injuries this season, but the respective head coaches feel like their teams are healthy coming into this game.
South Greene at Claiborne
When TSSAA announced its latest round of reclassifications Wednesday, South Greene found out that it will be dropping down to Class A (AA for football) beginning with the 2012-13 school year.
And with their overall record currently standing at 1-7, some might think the Rebels are already looking ahead to what next year will bring.
That's not entirely the case, though, according to South Greene football coach Shawn Green. He insists that his team finish out the season with pride, particularly for the three seniors on the roster.
"We can't make the playoffs at this point," Jones said, "but we want to make sure we continue playing hard for these seniors and send them out on a good note."
South Greene was missing several key starters last week in a 34-0 loss to West Greene. The Rebels allowed 562 yards of offense.
"We had to do a lot of moving around because of injuries, but I feel like we are pretty healthy coming into this week."
Claiborne (3-5, 1-3) is coming off a huge 16-11 upset win over Cumberland Gap, which knocked the Panthers out of a tie for second place in the District 2-AA standings.
"I'm hoping that they (Claiborne) suffer a little bit of a let down," Jones said. "That happens a lot of times in high school football."
Greeneville at Grainger
Greeneville will continue to work on improving its playoff seeding Friday night as it travels to Grainger.
The matchup features the top two teams in the District 2-AA standings: Greeneville is 4-0 in league play while Grainger stands at 3-1.
Greeneville is coming off a 42-6 win over Chuckey-Doak, in which quarterback Zack Finchum tallied 239 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns.
The Devils had a 326-168 advantage in total yards for the game, but was on the short end of an 18-16 first downs tally.
Head coach Caine Ballard said after the game that his team had a long way to go before the playoffs.
"(Chuckey-Doak) came out ready to play tonight and we didn't," Ballard said. "Practice was slow, and as a result we started slow tonight in the game. No matter who you are playing, this game is about heart and emotion."
Grainger had a bye week last Friday.