2020 Tennessee high school football playoff projections, round one

Hello, and welcome to a yearly tradition here at Stats By Will dot com: the TSSAA high school football playoff projections. I’m a little surprised to be bringing this back this year, as in early September, I announced my plans to not cover high school football at all this year. Without going into great detail, I’ve taken on more responsibilities in my professional role, and to be honest, I care a lot more about my work in basketball than I really do this. That being said, I do enjoy the fun that projections like these can bring. In particular, the playoff projections are pretty easy to put together each year once the field is set.

This year, there won’t be any class-by-class analysis beyond what I’ve posted on Twitter, which were the class-by-class odds. I’ll put the favorites, second-tier contenders, and darkhorses for each class above the projections here so you can get a grasp on what’s at stake in each class. The game with the highest Quarterfinals swing at risk will be bolded and italicized in each class as well. This is not necessarily the best game, but the one that looks to mean the most to the eventual fields of 8. Other writers, like Tom Kreager and Donovan Stewart, know far more about this stuff than I do, so you should listen to them when it comes to high school football. However, I do enjoy providing this simple service for those that enjoy it.

I’ve made a few tweaks to this year’s playoff projections:

  1. The ratings are a little different mix than usual. This year, I just used Cal Preps and Massey Ratings, as Sonny Moore’s ratings haven’t performed as well as those two in my time using both. Also, for the first time ever, my preseason ratings have a very small say in what you see here. They’re factored in at a rate of about 1.8%, which is miniscule, but has helped the ratings be a very tiny bit more accurate on the whole. (For instance, this probably would’ve made my call on last year’s Monterey/Whitwell game less extreme – by the time the game arrived, Monterey was a 95.8% favorite to win, but Whitwell won. They were the higher-ranked team in preseason by far.)
  2. I’ve added a small amount of extra uncertainty to game-by-game picks. It isn’t much, but it’s enough to reflect that any sports season in COVID times is going to be more unpredictable than usual. I already know of two teams that can’t participate in the playoffs because of contact tracing issues. Also, some teams played six or seven games while others got in their full ten. I’m trying to do the best I can with this abnormally-small sample size.
  3. I gave Alcoa a 30-point boost because otherwise, their fans will protest outside of my home. Not really, they’re simply as good as they always are.

Typically, these projections get around 80% of the games right during the playoffs, but I do expect this year to be a little lower. It’s a strange season, I’ve been told. Also, I think I still owe a guy a T-shirt because the school he played for beat the spread in one of the playoff games. If you are this player, please email statsbywill@gmail.com and I will write something very silly on a shirt for you.

1A

Favorites (20% or higher): South Pittsburg (42.5%)

Second-tier contenders (5% or higher): Gordonsville (15.9%), Moore Co. (9.3%), Fayetteville (8.7%), Huntingdon (7.5%), Lake Co. (7%)

Darkhorses (1% or higher): Coalfield (3.2%), Greenback (1.4%), Monterey (1.3%)

Most likely title game: South Pittsburg vs. Moore Co. (12.1% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Jellico 9 at (R2 #2) Oliver Springs 40
  • (R1 #4) Hancock Co. 0 at (R2 #1) Coalfield 57
  • (R2 #3) Greenback 47 at (R1 #2) Unaka 16
  • (R2 #4) Midway 25 at (R1 #1) Cloudland 24
  • (R3 #3) Sale Creek 11 at (R4 #2) Monterey 38
  • (R3 #4) Whitwell 8 at (R4 #1) Gordonsville 44
  • (R4 #3) Clay Co. 19 at (R3 #2) Copper Basin 22
  • (R4 #4) Byrns [Jo] 5 at (R3 #1) South Pittsburg 46
  • (R5 #3) Huntland 25 at (R6 #2) Collinwood 20
  • (R5 #4) Cornersville 22 at (R6 #1) Huntingdon 32 (49.7% Quarterfinal swing – Huntingdon 41.2%, Cornersville 8.5%)
  • (R6 #3) Wayne Co. 10 at (R5 #2) Moore Co. 37
  • (R6 #4) Hollow Rock-Bruceton Central 8 at (R5 #1) Fayetteville 36

2A

Favorites: Peabody (63.6%)

Second-tier contenders: Watertown (17.4%), Meigs Co. (10.6%)

Darkhorses: Trousdale Co. (2.4%), Lewis Co. (1.7%), McKenzie (1.2%), Bledsoe Co. (1.1%)

Most likely title game: Peabody vs. Watertown (38% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Happy Valley 12 at (R2 #2) Rockwood 23
  • (R1 #4) Cosby 0 at (R2 #1) Meigs Co. 61
  • (R2 #3) Oneida 17 at (R1 #2) Hampton 30
  • (R2 #4) Cumberland Gap 7 at (R1 #1) South Greene 46
  • (R3 #3) Tyner Academy 17 at (R4 #2) Trousdale Co. 34
  • (R3 #4) Tellico Plains 1 at (R4 #1) Watertown 45
  • (R4 #3) Westmoreland 29 at (R3 #2) Marion Co. 38
  • (R4 #4) Cascade 10 at (R3 #1) Bledsoe Co. 30
  • (R5 #3) Eagleville 12 at (R6 #2) Riverside 29
  • (R5 #4) Loretto 13 at (R6 #1) Waverly Central 35
  • (R6 #3) East Hickman Co. 19 at (R5 #2) Forrest 27 (31.2% Quarterfinal swing – Forrest 23.2%, East Hickman Co. 8%)
  • (R6 #4) Scotts Hill 5 at (R5 #1) Lewis Co. 44

3A

Favorites: Alcoa (58.2%), Pearl-Cohn (24.4%)

Second-tier contenders: Red Bank (6.6%)

Darkhorses: Milan (4.6%), Covington (2.9%), South Gibson (2.1%)

Most likely title game: Alcoa vs. Pearl-Cohn (46.2% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Unicoi Co. 17 at (R2 #2) GPittman 42
  • (R1 #4) Johnson Co. 0 at (R2 #1) Alcoa 52
  • (R2 #3) Kingston 30 at (R1 #2) Chuckey-Doak 17
  • (R2 #4) Pigeon Forge 30 at (R1 #1) Claiborne 25
  • (R3 #3) Brainerd 33 at (R4 #2) Smith Co. 18
  • (R3 #4) Signal Mountain 20 at (R4 #1) Upperman 28
  • (R4 #3) York Institute 5 at (R3 #2) Loudon 42
  • (R4 #4) Grundy Co. 0 at (R3 #1) Red Bank 49
  • (R5 #3) East Nashville 29 at (R6 #2) Fairview 17
  • (R5 #4) Stratford 22 at (R6 #1) Stewart Co. 23 (33.5% Quarterfinal swing – Stewart Co. 19.5%, Stratford 14%)
  • (R6 #3) Harpeth 7 at (R5 #2) Giles Co. 38
  • (R6 #4) Camden Central 0 at (R5 #1) Pearl-Cohn 56

4A

Favorites: Elizabethton (36.5%), Tullahoma (33.6%)

Second-tier contenders: Lexington (10.1%)

Darkhorses: Hardin Co. (4.9%), Haywood (4.1%), Anderson Co. (2.7%), Nolensville (2%), Springfield (1.7%), Dyersburg (1.5%), Marshall Co. (1.5%)

Most likely title game: Elizabethton vs. Lexington (15.4% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Sullivan South 24 at (R2 #2) East Hamilton 27
  • (R1 #4) Grainger 13 at (R2 #1) Anderson Co. 39
  • (R2 #3) Howard Tech 14 at (R1 #2) Greeneville 40
  • (R2 #4) East Ridge 1 at (R1 #1) Elizabethton 48
  • (R3 #3) Livingston Academy 12 at (R4 #2) Nolensville 32
  • (R3 #4) Stone Memorial 4 at (R4 #1) Tullahoma 42
  • (R4 #3) Marshall Co. 30 at (R3 #2) Macon Co. 18
  • (R4 #4) Spring Hill 17 at (R3 #1) DeKalb Co. 27
  • (R5 #3) White House-Heritage 11 at (R6 #2) Hardin Co. 38
  • (R5 #4) White House 9 at (R6 #1) Lexington 40
  • (R6 #3) Jackson North Side 25 at (R5 #2) Creek Wood 28
  • (R6 #4) Jackson South Side 10 at (R5 #1) Springfield 34
  • (R7 #3) Dyersburg 37 at (R8 #2) Millington Central 11
  • (R7 #4) Crockett Co. 35 at (R8 #1) Fayette Ware 22 (47.2% Quarterfinal swing – Crockett Co. 40.9%, Fayette Ware 6.3%)

5A

Favorites: Knoxville West (30.6%)

Second-tier contenders: Henry Co. (17.4%), Beech (17.1%), Oak Ridge (9.8%), Powell (8.1%), Summit (5.7%)

Darkhorses: Knoxville Central (4.2%), South-Doyle (1.7%), Hillsboro (1.4%), David Crockett (1.3%), Rhea Co. (1%)

Most likely title game: Knoxville West vs. Henry Co. (18% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Daniel Boone 22 at (R2 #2) South-Doyle 30 (52% Quarterfinal swing – South-Doyle 37.6%, Daniel Boone 14.4%)
  • (R1 #4) Morristown East 13 at (R2 #1) Central 34
  • (R2 #3) Knoxville Halls 26 at (R1 #2) Tennessee 28
  • (R2 #4) Sevier Co. 24 at (R1 #1) David Crockett 44
  • (R3 #3) Powell 35 at (R4 #2) Walker Valley 22
  • (R3 #4) Fulton 21 at (R4 #1) Rhea Co. 29
  • (R4 #3) Soddy Daisy 10 at (R3 #2) Oak Ridge 43
  • (R4 #4) Lenoir City 0 at (R3 #1) Knoxville West 53
  • (R5 #3) Columbia Central 16 at (R6 #2) Gallatin 23
  • (R5 #4) Lincoln Co. 8 at (R6 #1) Beech 39
  • (R6 #3) Hillsboro 29 at (R5 #2) Page 22
  • (R6 #4) Hillwood 10 at (R5 #1) Summit 37
  • (R7 #3) Dyer Co. 32 at (R8 #2) Brighton 24
  • (R7 #4) Clarksville 20 at (R8 #1) Munford 31

6A

Favorites: Oakland (30.1%), Maryville (29.7%)

Second-tier contenders: Ravenwood (12.7%), Bartlett (9.1%), Brentwood (7.1%)

Darkhorses: Dobyns-Bennett (2.6%), Independence (2.3%), Riverdale (2.2%), McMinn Co. (1.6%), Collierville (1.1%)

Most likely title game: Oakland vs. Ravenwood (13.4% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Bearden 18 at (R2 #2) McMinn Co. 38
  • (R1 #4) Science Hill 15 at (R2 #1) Maryville 42
  • (R2 #3) Bradley Central 28 at (R1 #2) Farragut 35
  • (R2 #4) Cleveland 13 at (R1 #1) Dobyns-Bennett 36
  • (R3 #3) Warren Co. 24 at (R4 #2) Mount Juliet 27
  • (R3 #4) Blackman 21 at (R4 #1) Hendersonville 30 (38.5% Quarterfinal swing – Hendersonville 30.8%, Blackman 7.7%)
  • (R4 #3) Wilson Central 12 at (R3 #2) Riverdale 32
  • (R4 #4) Rossview 10 at (R3 #1) Oakland 45
  • (R5 #3) Stewarts Creek 9 at (R6 #2) Ravenwood 43
  • (R5 #4) Cane Ridge 12 at (R6 #1) Brentwood 35
  • (R6 #3) Independence 39 at (R5 #2) LaVergne 12
  • (R6 #4) Franklin 26 at (R5 #1) Smyrna 24

II-A

Favorites: Davidson Academy (64.2%)

Second-tier contenders: University School of Jackson (18.6%), Donelson Christian Academy (9.4%), Nashville Christian (5%)

Darkhorses: King’s Academy (1.3%), Friendship Christian (1%)

Most likely title game: Davidson Academy vs. University School of Jackson (46.6% chance of happening)

  • (E #5) Grace Christian Academy 20 at (W #4) Trinity Christian Academy 37 (14.8% Semifinals swing – Trinity Christian 14.3%, Grace Christian 0.5%)
  • (E #6) Webb Bell Buckle 5 at (W #3) Nashville Christian 45
  • (W #5) Jackson Christian 24 at (E #4) Friendship Christian 33
  • (W #6) Columbia Academy 26 at (E #3) Middle Tennessee Christian 28 (game forfeited by Columbia Academy due to COVID-19)

II-AA

Favorites: Christ Presbyterian Academy (50.8%), Lipscomb Academy (41.7%)

Second-tier contenders: CAK (5%)

Darkhorses: none; Evangelical Christian (0.9%) closest

Most likely title game: Christ Presbyterian Academy vs. Lipscomb Academy (66.9% chance of happening)

  • (W #4) Harding Academy 4 at (W #2) Lausanne Collegiate 46
  • (W #5) St. George’s 6 at (M #1) Lipscomb Academy 45
  • (M #4) Battle Ground Academy 32 at (W #3) Northpoint Christian 12
  • (M #5) Franklin Road Academy 20 at (W #1) Evangelical Christian 31 (55.8% Semifinals swing – Evangelical Christian 46.8%, Franklin Road Academy 9%)
  • (E #3) Webb 19 at (M #3) Goodpasture Christian 30
  • (E #4) Chattanooga Christian 23 at (E #2) Grace Christian 29
  • (E #5) Silverdale Academy 0 at (M #2) Christ Presbyterian Academy 48
  • (E #6) Boyd-Buchanan 12 at (E #1) CAK 41

There are 88 games this week in all; the expected record of these projections is roughly 73-15 (83.1%). We’ll see how they do.

A special best of luck to my former high school, Warren County, who will be playing my little brother’s high school, Mount Juliet. In a true battle for the ages, Warren County has the opportunity to secure their first playoff win since 1983 (!), along with their first nine-win season since 1983. It’s been a historic year, and I sincerely hope they pull this one off.

Good luck to all teams involved, and I’ll be back next Friday morning with more projections.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s