After five weeks of waiting, Smithson Craighead finally will play a football game.
The Eagles, who have seen their schedule decimated by forfeitures of opposing schools this fall, get an actual opponent — Oliver School — in the first round of the Metro Middle School playoffs, 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Overton High School.
“We haven’t been able to do much of anything the last five weeks except scrimmage each other,” coach Maurice Fitzgerald, whose Pearl-Cohn teams won two straight high school state championships (1996 and 1997), said.
In the other semifinal, undefeated J.T. Moore, a perennial middle school powerhouse on the South side of town, will meet Haynes, 5:15 p.m. Thursday at Hillsboro.
Smithson Craighead players must feel like caged lions ready to finally break out and play someone — anyone. Smithson is 1-0 on the field, 6-0 counting forfeits. Fitzgerald said the one game was a 48-0 victory over Two Rivers.
All but one of the opposing schools on the Madison school’s schedule forfeited their scheduled games, as reported by The City Paper in its Oct. 8 edition.
“It’s been very difficult our guys — it’s been so long,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve gotten into kind of a bad rhythm without playing anybody. It has been hard to keep guys motivated.”
The Eagles are shooting for their third Metro Middle School championship in the last four years.
Smithson Craighead, a magnet charter school, gets students from out of its zone. That has sparked rumors of recruiting, which Fitzgerald emphatically has denied but the perception has helped fuel the forfeitures.
“I haven’t seen anything like this in 30 years of coaching,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m not angry or upset, anything like that. I’m just extremely disappointed in the situation.
“We’ve lost about $2,800 at the gate [as a result of the forfeits], and we’ve taken quite a hit financially.”
Wins by Smithson and J.T. Moore would set up a big-time showdown for the title on Nov. 8.
Moore won six straight middle school championships (2002-07), then another in 2010. Smithson Craighead won titles in 2009 and last year.
• STATE SOCCER: Christ Presbyterian Academy, which is making its sixth straight trip to the state tournament, goes for its first title when the Lions face Sacred Heart in the Class A/AA quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon at the Chattanooga Christian field.
The Lions (18-2-2) have been runners-up twice, including last year when they lost to Christian Academy of Knoxville 3-1 in the finals. In 2007 they lost to Nashville foe Franklin Road Academy 3-0 in the championships contest.
In Class AAA, Brentwood High (15-2-1) opens up against Arlington, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Baylor School.
Harpeth Hall and Father Ryan (DII-AA), along with FRA and University school of Nashville (DII-A) begin play in their respective tournaments Friday.
STATE SOCCER TOURNAMENT
Class AAA quarterfinals
Arlington vs. Brentwood, 5:30 p.m.
Class A/AA quarterfinals
(at Chattanooga Christian)
Sacred Heart vs. Christ Presbyterian Academy, 12:30 p.m.
Division II-AA semifinals
(at Girls Preparatory School)
Father Ryan vs. Baylor, 3 p.m.
Harpeth Hall vs. GPS, 5 p.m.
Division II-A semifinals
St. George’s vs. Franklin Road Academy, 3 p.m.
University School of Nashville vs. University School of Jackson, 5:30 p.m.