By SAM McGAW
Page (8-3) at Summit (9-2), 7 p.m.
After earning their program’s first playoff victory a week ago, the Summit Spartans look to secure a berth to the Class 5A quarterfinals Friday when they host the Page Patriots.
The Spartans took down Hillwood 42-7 in the first round, while Page defeated Gallatin 27-21 in overtime.
Summit, which defeated Page 35-17 on Sept. 22, must continue to find ways to overcome the loss of starting quarterback Ethan Cash and running back/cornerback Tai Carter.
Cash was knocked out for the rest of the season in the victory against Page, while Carter – a Class 5A Mr. Football semifinalist – is out for the year after suffering a torn ACL against Centennial in Week 10.
“How many teams can get through losing their starting quarterback and running back,” Coleman said. “They are the main parts of your offense, and Tai’s the main part of our defense. That shows a lot about this team’s heart and character. They had a goal at the beginning of the year, and they’re working hard to achieve that goal.”
Carter finished the year with 1,225 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns (2 pass). With him gone, the Spartans have leaned heavily on running backs George Odimegwu and Payton Craig.
Odimegwu has 1,202 rushing yards, 134 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, while Craig has racked up 865 rushing yards and 10 scores.
“They have stepped up in Tai’s absence,” Coleman stated. “Payton has run really hard. He’s a shorter back that gets lost behind the offensive line, and George has gotten better each week. It all goes back to the offensive line giving them holes to run through. Almost anybody can run through those holes they’re providing.”
Sophomore Bubba Johnson is Page’s workhorse at running back. He’s carried the ball 232 times this season for 1,361 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“We have to limit the big plays,” Coleman said. “He’s going to get a few yards because he’s so big. We can give him the 3-yard runs, but we can’t give him the 25-yard runs.”
The Patriots have seen a recent emergence at quarterback from Cade Walker. He’s recorded 536 passing yards, 93 rushing yards and six touchdowns (2 run) over the last five games.
Jacob Van Landingham is another threat in the backfield. He’s rushed for 381 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The winner of Friday’s bout will take on either Hillsboro or Beech on Nov. 17.
Spring Hill (6-5) at Marshall County (8-3), 7 p.m.
The Spring Hill Raiders rematch a familiar foe when they battle the Marshall County Tigers in a Class 4A quarterfinal Friday.
The Raiders have lost nine straight games against the Tigers, including a 34-27 defeat on Oct. 13.
Spring Hill approaches this week’s matchup averaging 31 points over its last two games. Running back Dontae Smith is they key cog for the offense.
The Class 4A Mr. Football semifinalist has rushed for 1,772 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. He’s torched the Tigers in their last three meetings, racking up 401 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 52 carries.
In the Week 9 loss, he rushed for 173 yards and three scores.
Marshall County has allowed just six points over the last two weeks.
The Tigers’ offense is led by quarterback Bryce Wallace and running back Kamron Liggett.
Wallace has recorded 1,453 passing yards, 429 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns (5 run) and three interceptions, while Liggett has 1,381 rushing yards, 108 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns.