Slowing down a big-time passing attack will most likely give Maplewood’s Panthers a passing grade.
Making their fifth straight playoff appearance, the Panthers (7-4) will host DeKalb County (7-4) and passing whiz Hunter Poteete in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs Friday. A ticket to the quarterfinals awaits the winner.
Following his team's 28-7 romp over Scott County, Maplewood coach Ralph Thompson is looking for a high-scoring game and hopes his offense is up to the challenge.
They (DeKalb) have an excellent, athletic quarterback (Poteete). It seems like he passes 90% of the time and for good reason,’’ Thompson said. “What impresses me most is that his ability to throw on the run is as good as when he’s throwing from the pocket.’’
Poteete has thrown for 2,309 yards and 23 TDs for the high-scoring Tigers who averaging 30 points per game. One of his ends, Abram Edwards, has more than 1,000 receiving yards.
“They definitely have the ability to put up points, but I think our offense has the ability to put up points, also,’’ he said. “It may be a very high-scoring game.’’
Two reasons for Thompson’s offensive optimism is the return to full speed of his big-time backs in Ladarius Van Lier and Stanley Hagan. The duo have missed action in recent weeks but have returned and have combined for about 1,000 yards.
“They are both 100 percent. It’s a big plus for us,’’ Thompson said. “The injuries set us back some. They are so dynamic in what they can do, and we’re much more effective with both of them back.
Not looking ahead: If both Maplewood and Whites Creek win Friday — the Cobras take on Livingston — the two neighborhood rivals would meet in the quarterfinals Nov. 20.
Thompson knows all too well the dangers of looking ahead and he assures he will not make the same mistake as in the past.
“We got burned last year when we started looking ahead to a rematch with Hillsboro,’’ Thompson said (the two met in the quarterfinals in ’07, with Maplewood winning and eventually reaching the finals).
“We found ourselves looking past a good Beech team, and they caught us off guard (16-14 loss),’’ he said. “I learned a very valuable lesson as a coach. If you don’t take care of business at hand in the playoffs, your season is over. You don’t get a second chance.’’
Decisions, decisions: Four-star recruit James Stone has taken official visits to LSU and Notre Dame, with Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee coming up later for the giant 6-4, 290-pound offensive tackle.
Asked about Stone’s eventual decision, Thompson said, “I don’t think James will decide until at least January, maybe later,’’ he said. “He told me recently he doesn’t want anything to get in the way of his concentrating on the playoffs and that his team is the most important thing to him.’’
Tough task: Speaking of trying to slow down a big-time passing attack, David Lipscomb, making its 17th straight playoff appearance, is in a similar boat as Maplewood.
The Mustangs’ first-round win over Jackson SouthSide was their fifth straight and earned them a visit Friday to high-scoring Giles County (10-1), winner of 10 straight..
There, Lipscomb (8-3) will face super star QB Bo Wallace who has passed for 2,476 yards and 30 TDs. Lipscomb has two close playoff wins over Giles. Last year, Lipscomb edged the Bobcats 17-16 in Nashville and won 21-14 in ’06.
The win Friday was the 301st for Lipscomb Coach Glenn McCadams, which ranks him third among active coaches in Tennessee.
Bears growling: Defending DII-A state champion Davidson Academy (9-1) has roared on despite a season-ending injury to star TB Justin Williams who had 841 yards at the mid-point. TB Aubrey Dixon (1,028 yards rushing, nine TDs) has taken up the slack. The Bears defense is led by Blair Arrington and Will Hopper (75 and 72 tackles) and standout senior cornerback Austin Gifford who has five interceptions, tied for best in Nashville.
Since a week 2 loss to DCA, Davidson has won eight straight, including a 20-18 win over Knox Webb, which earned the Bears a No. 1 seed in the region and first-round bye.
FRA’s Smith to sign: Franklin Road Academy golfer Tyler Smith will sign with Mississippi State Friday at 10:15 a.m. at the school. He qualified for state all four years.