The Portland High School football program has made just one playoff appearance over the previous nine seasons.
Portland could take a significant step toward returning to the postseason with a win over visiting Maplewood on Friday evening at Edgar Johnson Stadium.
It’s the first meeting between the two programs.
There currently is a separation in Region 5-4A, with region unbeatens Pearl-Cohn and Springfield playing in week 10 in a game that will determine the regional championship.
Maplewood (1-6 overall, 0-3 in 5-4A) is the only team without a league win in 5-4A, but a Maplewood win this evening could further cloud the playoff picture in the six-team region. Portland, White House and Macon County all enter Friday with a 1-2 mark in region play. Those three teams are battling for the region’s final two playoff spots, with Pearl-Cohn and Springfield having already secured postseason spots, though Maplewood could climb back into the postseason mix by winning its final two league contests.
Both Maplewood and Portland are coming off bye weeks, having last played on Oct. 2. Maplewood had one of its better performances, albeit in a losing effort, as it suffered a 28-14 loss to visiting Pearl-Cohn. Portland suffered a 45-14 setback at Springfield.
Maplewood has lost five consecutive games, though it was also competitive in the first of those five losses (a 34-27 setback to Springfield in a game played at Vanderbilt Stadium). Maplewood’s lone win came on Aug. 28, a 26-8 victory over East Nashville.
Maplewood produced just 182 yards in the loss to Pearl-Cohn, scoring on a 40-yard touchdown pass from former Knox Doss Middle and Hunter Middle School standout Bobo Hodges to former Station Camp High standout Bo Hodges – a junior – and on a 90-yard interception return by junior Deshawn Johnson.
Bobo Hodges leads the team in rushing yards (256 yards on 51 carries), and the freshman has completed 20 of 50 passes for 250 yards.
Portland (3-4, 1-2) is hoping to have junior tailback Emmanuel Johnson back in action on Friday. Emmanuel Johnson – who has rushed for 426 yards and five touchdowns this season while averaging better than 8 yards per carry – missed the Springfield game due to a concussion.
The Panthers couldn’t slow the Yellow Jackets, allowing 439 total yards.
Portland has given up 39.5 points per game in its four losses.
It’s the first of three consecutive home games for the Panthers to conclude the regular season, ending with a clash against Macon County that will have significant playoff implications.
Portland’s last playoff berth came in 2012, when the program was in Class 5A.
Kickoff for Friday’s game is slated for 7 p.m.
Pearl-Cohn (3-4 overall, 3-0 in Region 5-4A) at White House (4-3, 1-2)
Kickoff at 7:30 p.m at Dewey H. Whitson Stadium
Last game: The Firebirds captured a 28-14 victory at Maplewood on Oct. 2. The Blue Devils claimed a 30-15 victory at Macon County on Oct. 2.
Last meeting between the two programs: Pearl-Cohn captured a 79-36 victory over visiting White House in the quarterfinal round of the Class 4A playoffs last season.
Neither team played last Friday, giving the injury-riddled Blue Devils an opportunity to heal.
White House has lost three players – senior tailback/linebacker Trey Hyde, senior offensive lineman Lukas Hodges and senior tailback Josh Flynn – to season-ending injuries.
Senior quarterback Steven Rankin, senior wide receiver/defensive back Luke Hopkins, senior offensive lineman Brennan Harshaw, junior defensive end Danny Stoutt and junior offensive lineman Austin Hoffman have all returned to action after being sidelined earlier this season, as have senior wide receiver/defensive back Brian Mullins and senior tailback/defensive back Tanner Jordan (both of whom are playing with casts).
Junior tailback Ronald Honeycutt, senior defensive back Ricky Townsend and sophomore defensive lineman Josh Dailey remain sidelined.
Following a three-game losing streak, the Blue Devils have won back-to-back games.
White House would move considerably closer to clinching a playoff berth with a win over the region-leading Firebirds.
Pearl-Cohn has won all three of its region games but has dropped all four of its non-region contests. However, those non-region games have come against teams with a combined record of 25-5.
Senior quarterback Jimmy Ferrell, senior wide receiver Rontavious Groves and junior tailback Ke’juan Vaughn lead the Firebird offense, which is averaging more than 34 points per game.
Vaughn has rushed for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns on 109 carries this season, including 174 yards on 19 carries in Pearl-Cohn’s win at Maplewood two weeks ago. He has rushed for 100 yards or more five times this season.
Ferrell has passed for 1,289 yards and seven touchdowns, and Groves – who has numerous scholarship offers – has 15 receptions for 286 yards, after compiling 893 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.
All nine previous meetings between the two programs have been since 2003, with the Firebirds winning five of those. Pearl-Cohn has won all three playoff games between the two programs, but the Blue Devils are 4-2 in the regular-season affairs.
Baylor (6-1 overall, 2-1 in the Division II-Class AA East/Middle Region) at Pope John Paul II (2-5, 0-4)
Kickoff at 7 p.m. at the Jim Carell Athletic Complex
Last game: The Red Raiders claimed a 38-14 win over visiting McCallie on Oct. 2. The Knights suffered a 56-14 loss at Montgomery Bell Academy on Oct. 2.
Last meeting between the two teams: Baylor captured a 38-7 victory at Pope John Paul II last season.
PJP II will wrap up the home portion of its regular-season schedule on Friday with a visit from Division II-Class AA East/Middle Region foe Baylor.
The Red Raiders have defeated the Knights in all nine of the programs’ prior meetings by an average of 28.3 points per game (a combined margin of 304-100 in those contests).
PJP II suffered a 56-14 loss at Montgomery Bell Academy two weeks ago, extending its region losing streak to 19 games.
The Knights managed only 186 yards of total offense in the defeat, though junior quarterback Ben Brooks was efficient. The junior completing 15 of 23 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
Baylor has won its last two games, including a 38-14 victory against visiting McCallie two weeks ago. Red Raider quarterback Wil Austin rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries in the victory.
The Red Raiders’ lone blemish this season came in a 42-30 loss to visiting Brentwood Academy on Sept. 18. Four of Baylor’s six victories have been by a margin of 24 points or more.
Baylor averages more than 38 points per game and has scored at least 27 points in every contest this season.
PJP II will finish the regular season with two games on the road, at McCallie and at South Warren (Ky.), before playing a Division II-Class AA playoff game that will likely be on the road as well.