This Friday will decide whether or not the Morristown West Trojans get a shot at the Class 6A playoffs or not.
Fortunately for the Trojans, they are home for this marquee matchup against the Bearden Bulldogs; however, Bearden is eyeing the same prize as West on Friday night at Burke-Toney Stadium starting at 7:30 p.m.
“It has been a minute since we have been in a meaningful type game at this point in the season,” head coach Alvin Sanders of West said. “There is a lot on the line in this game. This is a fun time of the year when it comes to football. Our guys are excited about it and we understand the challenge. We aren’t going to make this game bigger than what it is, but at the same time we know our playoffs start this week.”
Bearden (2-6, 2-2 Region 1-6A) is in the same boat as West (2-6, 1-3 Region 1-6A). This game decides who earns the fourth seed in the region for the two as West is only one game behind, and the win would be considered the tiebreaker.
“We have a lot of energy in the locker room right now,” Sanders said. “We know we are 2-6 but we know we have a chance to turn this season around. We have been calm and sticking to what we know. Practice has been great this week and we are ready to get out there.”
However, West does need to win out with a game against Hardin Valley (1-7, 1-3) to 100% control its playoff destiny. Hardin Valley faces Farragut (5-3, 3-1 Region 1-6A) this Friday.
Both West and Bearden are coming off of losses they are trying to bounce back from. The Bulldogs lost to Farragut 45-17 last Friday after Farragut scored 28 unanswered.
This is the most similar team, on paper, that the Trojans have faced with how both Bearden and West’s season has gone thus far.
“It’s almost like looking in the mirror,” Sanders said. “Bearden has been in games and has made mistakes that have cost them a game just like us. One thing that stands out to me is that Bearden has a lot of first-time starters and we have a lot of guys that have been starting for three or four years now.”
The Bulldogs come in averaging 17 points per contest but have allowed 33.4 points per game.
Look for West’s ground attack to push the sticks and score against Bearden’s defense that has lacked up on the defensive line this season.
“Offensively, we have to stay true to who we are,” Sanders said. “We have to come out and be aggressive in the run game. Whenever we get an opportunity to throw the ball downfield, we will take those shots.”
Although the Trojans are coming off of a 59-14 loss against the No. 1 team in the region in Dobyns-Bennett, they are still riding with confidence.
West put up the second-most points against Dobyns-Bennett behind Farragut who put up 35.
“We have to keep fighting like we have been all year,” head coach Alvin Sanders said. “Once the second half came in we started to put some drives together against Dobyns-Bennett. No matter what the scoreboard showed last week, we continued to fight and improve on our play. I think this says a lot about us. We have gained attention and respect from our fight.”
On top of the two scores the Trojans had, quarterback Dylan Cribley is growing to be more comfortable in uncomfortable situations going into week 10.
Just last week Cribley had a 39-yard rushing touchdown and took a few more shots down the field than he typically does.
Sanders is pleased with what he saw from Cribley’s aggression and believes it could become a big factor against Bearden.
“I like how aggressive Cribley is being right now,” Sanders said. “He is minimizing his mistakes and is taking the shots he needs to for a big play to be created. We haven’t designed an offense for him to carry the ball but he is capable of creating plays with his legs.”