Thanks, first and foremost, for Matt Daniels of Century 21 for making ALL our state championship coverage this week FREE to the public.
Last week, we went 9-3 in our 12 statewide semifinal picks, bringing our season total to 370-97 (.792) after 15 weeks of play. It’s been a down year for our prediction model, which usually hits at 83-85 percent.
In an effort to save some face, we’ll try to go out with a bang and predict all nine state championships correctly.
Here’s who we got …
Thursday, Dec. 2
DIVISION II-AA: Lipscomb Academy (11-1) vs. Christ Presbyterian (11-2), 11 a.m. – Lipscomb Academy wants revenge on CPA more than anything for last year’s loss in the state championship game. And while Lipscomb Academy beat CPA in the regular season this fall, that win didn’t satiate the Mustangs’ appetite. OUR PICK: Lipscomb Academy 45, CPA 15.
DIVISION II-A: Nashville Christian School (11-2) vs. Donelson Christian Academy (11-1), 3 p.m. – These two programs gave their fan bases a nail-biter of a classic in Week 11, when Donelson Christian Academy topped Nashville Christian, 7-3. DCA did a great job of stopping NCS star running back Josh Strickland that week, limiting him to 21 yards on 11 carries. DCA does it again this week. OUR PICK: DCA 27, NCS 12.
DIVISION II-AAA: McCallie (12-0) vs. MBA (9-3), 7 p.m. – After a 1-3 start, MBA has done well to get into position for a state championship. And their playoff wins over Baylor (35-0) and Christian Brothers (42-14) have been impressive. But McCallie is on a 15-game win streak and is the two-time defending Division II-AAA state champion. OUR PICK: McCallie 37, MBA 21.
Friday, Dec. 3
CLASS 3A: Alcoa (13-1) vs. East Nashville (10-4), 11 a.m. – Alcoa is used to being the overwhelming favorite in state championship games, and the Tornadoes will once again be that against East Nashville. Alcoa is looking for its seventh consecutive state champion and 20th overall. East Nashville had never advanced past the second round until this season. OUR PICK: Alcoa 41, East Nashville 7.
CLASS 1A: South Pitt (10-2) vs. McKenzie (14-0), 3 p.m. – South Pitt’s arduous journey to this 1A finale is one to be lauded. The Pirates’ new head coach left early in the season to go back to coaching in the CFL. And a number of Covid cancellations delayed the Pirates’ progress, as well. McKenzie, though, has toppled two defending state champions in as many weeks, eliminating Fayetteville and Peabody. I can’t ignore that. OUR PICK: McKenzie 38, South Pittsburg 20.
CLASS 5A: Powell (12-2) vs. Page (13-1), 7 p.m. – This matchup of dual-threat QBs could wind up being one of the most entertaining games of the weekend in Chattanooga. Jake McNamara threw seven TDs and more than 400 yards in Page’s comeback win in the semifinals. Powell’s Jordyn Potts has thrown for 3,500 yards and also leads Powell in rushing TDs. But how Page manages Powell’s defensive front will actually be the key in this one. They’ll not only have to double-team Walter Nolen (15 sacks, 35 QB pressures) but they’ll have to have an answer for sophomore defensive end Steven Soles (16 sacks, 41 QB pressures), as well. OUR PICK: Powell 30, Page 21.
Saturday, Dec. 4
CLASS 4A: Elizabethton (12-1) vs. Tullahoma (14-0), 11 a.m. – Elizabethton comes in as the two-time defending Class 4A state champions. But the Cyclones have feasted of late off playing up the underdog role, as pundits statewide targeted rival Greeneville as the 2021 favorite to win 4A. Elizabethton’s confidence has soared even more since topping Greeneville in the quarterfinal round, riding behind the leadership of senior three-year starter Bryson Rollins (42-1). Tullahoma, on the other hand, is in the state championship for the first time in program history. Their defensive front looks formidable in size and has the ability to chase sideline to sideline. So maybe that will create difficulty for Rollins’ rushing prowess? We’ll see. But Elizabethton’s comfort level in this game and the way their defense has played of late gives us reasons to believe they come out victorious once again. OUR PICK: Elizabethton 23, Tullahoma 21.
CLASS 2A: Hampton (10-2) vs. Westview (13-1), 3 p.m. – Hampton won’t be picked by many here. Though the Bulldogs have had a noteworthy run, winning tough games over Trousdale County and Oneida, they are still first-timers when it comes to state championship pressure. These current Westview players haven’t been in the championship game before, either. But they have an Alabama QB commitment in Ty Simpson. And that carries a lot of water in 2A. OUR PICK: Westview 34, Hampton 15.
CLASS 6A: Oakland (14-0) vs. Summit (14-0), 7 p.m. – Two defending state champions in this one. How? Summit won 5A last season before being reclassified by the TSSAA into 6A for 2021. Oakland won it all in 6A last season and takes a 29-game win streak into this finale. Summit’s win streak is at 25. Both teams have big-time college football prospects. Summit’s twin brothers Keaten Wade and Destin Wade are Mr. Football finalists and Kentucky commitments. Oakland running back Jordan James is also a Mr. Football finalist and Georgia commit. He has help on the perimeter in Miami wide receiver commitment Isaiah Horton. Oakland didn’t look like it’s normal explosive self last week. And I think Summit holds the Patriots in check for a half in the title game, but I expect Oakland to make a second-half surge for the win. OUR PICK: Oakland 20, Summit 7.