This belongs in the class of a state championship game.
In close to the Division II “Game of the Year,’’ defending state champion Ensworth visits red-hot Brentwood Academy on Friday in a matchup that likelywill determine the DII-AA Region championship.
Ensworth (7-1, 4-1) has lost only to Baylor and has blown out nearly everyone else. BA (7-1, 5-0) has won seven straight since an opening loss to nationally ranked prep power Trinity (Ky.)
Statistics suggest there will be some offensive fireworks.
• Both teams boast a 1,000-yard rusher — Ensworth’s Corn Elder has 1,128 yards, and BA has De’Montre Wade with 1,079.
• Each has a 1,000-yard passer (almost) — Ensworth’s Andrew Bowers has 1,129 and 15 touchdowns, while BA’s Max Staver has 907 yards and eight touchdowns.
• And both have a 500-yards receivers — BA’s Al Thompson has 501 yards and four touchdowns, and Vanderbilt commitment Corey Batey has 554 and seven scores for Ensworth.
“It’s two teams which have really played well lately and are getting better each week,’’ Ensworth coach Ricky Bowers said. “We’ve both had a long road to get this far, and we’ll just see which team is playing better at this point."
BA hopes to avoid anything similar to the nightmare endings of last season's two meetings between the teams.
In the regular season, Ensworth escaped with a 21-14 win when Elder intercepted a pass in the end zone on the final play.
When they met again in the playoff semifinals, Ensworth trailed 19-13 and had the ball on its own 8 with a minute and a half left. It scored a touchdown with 30 seconds remaining and converted a fourth-and-27 along the way for a 20-19 victory.
The Tigers then beat Baylor for the state title.
“I guess we’re due for a couple of breaks,’’ BA Coach Ralph Potter said dryly. “They made some big plays at the end of both games.
“At the same time, every game is different. We have a young team and a lot of our kids didn’t even know about what happened the year before. To be successful, we’re going to have to limit the big play, which they are so capable of, and do a good job of blocking and tackling."
Although everyone in DII-AA makes the playoffs, Friday’s winner will get a slightly less rockier road in its first playoff game.
BA clinches first with a win. Ensworth can clinch with a win, followed by a victory at Ryan next week and a Baylor loss.
Ensworth lost to the Eagles in the playoff semis in both 2007 and 2008 before breaking through last year. Since winning the state in 2006, BA has reached at least the semifinals four straight years.
“I think it’s going to be a great high school contest,’’ Bowers said.
Antioch at Columbia
Blackman at Brentwood High
Christ Presbyterian Academy at David Lipscomb
Donelson Christian Academy at Davidson Academy
East Literature at Overton
Ensworth at Brentwood Academy
Ezell-Harding at Sycamore
Father Ryan at Battle Ground Academy
Franklin Road Academy at Knox Webb
Houston County at Nashville Christian
Montgomery Bell Academy at McCallie
Maplewood at Lancaster Christian
McGavock at Goodpasture
Pope John Paul II at Baylor
Shelbyville at Centennial
Siegel at Independence
Smyrna at Ravenwood
Stratford at Hillsboro