There’s a lot of labor that needs to be done on Labor Day weekend for two teams to take command in the DII football race.
Specifically, the spotlight Friday night will fall on Ryan’s Carell Complex Stadium and at Ensworth’s Tiger Stadium where teams look to take the early September lead.
Ryan (1-1) will host high-scoring Brentwood Academy (2-0), which has lit up the board with103 points in two games. Ensworth (0-1) entertains rival MBA (2-0), which has posted twin shutouts in its two wins.
It is the DII-AA opener for all four, each of which has reached the playoffs the past two years.
Ryan has knocked off Brentwood Academy the past two seasons, including 35-34 last year. Irish Coach Bruce Lussier was asked the secret to success in the matchup.
“We have a lot of kids who compete hard,” he said. “Both those games were close, and it came down to their mistakes and turnovers.
“The keys to this game and any game are turnovers and ball possession. The last couple of times we’ve played, they’ve turned the ball over to us and we took advantage.”
Taking a look at the proficient offense BA owns and the avalanche of points the Eagles have scored, Lussier said, “They have an overpowering type offense with some great backs and receivers. We cannot afford to allow their offense to stay out on the field, and we cannot commit turnovers.”
At Ensworth, the host Tigers have had two weeks to prepare for MBA, a team they clobbered 50-21 last year. The Big Red later avenged the loss with in the state playoffs.
Ensworth lost its opener to Oakland 20-7. MBA blanked high-powered offenses like Pearl-Cohn and Maplewood.
“Obviously, a situation where we are outweighed about 75-100 pounds per man in the line is a concern,” MBA coach Daniel McGugin who has taken two of his first three teams to the state finals, said. “We will get their very best from them. Time of possession is big key, and we have to value the ball, limit turnovers. If we do that, hopefully, we can stay in the game.”
Another top-notch showdown in DII-A play will send Donelson Christian Academy (1-0) to Davidson Academy (0-1). That winner will also gain a leg up in the race. Both teams have had two weeks to prepare, and Davidson tailback Justin Williams, coming back from off-season ACL surgery, had a strong opening game.
• MBA news: This past week, former MBA leading rusher and redshirt-sophomore Christian Waddey made the team as a walk-on at Virginia. He may play on some special teams for the Cavaliers and is well down the depth chart as a running back.
Also, it appears certain that former all-state lineman Wesley Johnson will start his first college game at offensive tackle Saturday for Vanderbilt in its opener vs. Northwestern.
• Brimm honored in Madison dedication: Former coach Bill Brimm, who directed four sports at old Madison High, was honored as Madison Middle School held its formal dedication ceremony Wednesday morning for the school, which opened in 2009.
After ribbon cutting ceremonies, the dedication of the gymnasium and court was held, with the unveiling of “Bill Brimm Court’’ painted on side-court.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Brimm, 86, who coached football, basketball, baseball and golf at the school and was named coach of the year in the old NIL in each sport, including six times in football. “This is the greatest honor I’ve received in my life.
“The Lord has blessed me. There are so many wonderful memories I have at this school, and it is a great day for Madison High and Madison Middle School.”
Among the speakers introduced by principal Dr. Nancy Meador were Nashville mayor Karl Dean and U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper. About 500 former players and students and friends of the school were on hand as well as the Middle School students.