So much is riding on such an early September game.
When Ensworth (1-0) invades Montgomery Bell Academy (2-0) Friday night, the winner will be close to taking command of the highly competitive DII football race.
Since Ensworth reached varsity status two years ago, the two Nashville powers are 1-1 against each other – both winning at home – and the winner has gone on to capture the regular season crown and achieve a No. 1 state ranking.
For MBA, a mid-season 14-0 win in ’07 over the Tigers catapulted them to an unbeaten season and eventually the state crown.
But for Ensworth, a 41-28 mid-season win over MBA didn’t propel the Tigers to the same goals. A state title and an undefeated season both came to a shattering end with a playoff semifinal loss to Brentwood Academy a month later.
“They (MBA) are big, fast and experienced,’’ said Ensworth Coach Ricky Bowers, who used to coach at MBA, his alma mater (1994-2001). It was a school he played for, then guided to three straight state championships (’98-99-00).
“On top of that, they have a tremendous field goal kicker (in Andrew Fletcher), who does a great job,’’ he added.
Individually, keys to look for are running backs where MBA has De’Ante Hughes and Tyler Franks and Ensworth has Orleans Darkwa qne Marcus McAlpine. Top QB play will be a key, with Ensworth lefty Cody Tollison and MBA standout Luke Colbert.
What is most pleasing to Bowers is that he finally will send out a team which virtually injury free.
“For the first time in over a year, we are almost injury free,’’ Bowers said. “We’ve lost a couple of kids, but otherwise, we’re in pretty good shape.’’
MBA Coach Daniel McGugin did a little mathematics in terms of the size factor.
“We don’t even compare when you use a little math,’’ McGugin said. “You lose 100 pounds when 220 pound guys go against 320-pound guys. They have a huge line they run behind. When they rallied to beat Oakland (in overtime), their line just took over in the fourth quarter, and Oakland simply couldn’t stop them’’
Oh, and please don’t don’t call it a “rivalry game -- even though for so many reasons, it clearly seems to be inasmuch as both schools are in the West Nashville area and draw the same type of students. Many players on both teams are good friends.
“There are about 4-5 team on our schedule who call MBA a big rival,’’ said McGugin, adding “as far as I’m concerned, they’re all big. We have never classified teams we play as rivals, or we’d be playing a big rival every week.’’
McGugin added, “It’s going to be a great game, a lot of fun, a great atmosphere for high school football. I’m really looking forward to it, just as I’m sure Ricky (Bowers) is.’’
Friday's key games
BGA at Chatt. Baylor
CPA at East Literature
Centennial at Franklin
Independence at Brentwood High
Pope JPII at McCallie
McGavock at Cane Ridge
Maplewood at David Lipscomb
Davidson Academy at DCA
Ensworth at MBA
Father Ryan at Brentwood Acad.
St. Benedict at FRA
Hillwood at Glencliff
Macon County at Goodpasture
Antioch at Hunters Lane
Ezell-Harding at Knox Webb
Ft. Campbell at Pearl-Cohn
Stratford at Whites Creek
NCS at Clarksville Academy