After getting a road taste of mid-state football, Science Hill will get a chance to see if home cooking helps.
The Hilltoppers will play host to Brentwood Academy tonight at Tipton Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30.
Science Hill is 3-1, but coming off a 64-38 loss to Murfreesboro Siegel. Brentwood is 2-3, having lost three games in a row.
“They’re not used to losing four games in a season,” said Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter. “Brentwood at one time was the toughest in the state.”
Indeed. The Eagles are just behind Maryville and Alcoa for state championships with 10. However, their last title came seven years ago, and it was their only one in the last 17 years.
This season after whipping Memphis University School and Liberty Tech Magnet, Brentwood fell to Father Ryan, St. Xavier (Ohio) and MBA. St. Xavier is ranked No. 10 in the Midwest Region in the Fab 50 national football rankings, and defeated Brentwood, 23-0.
The Eagles are led by quarterback Tyler Swafford, who helped his team to a 22-7 lead last week against undefeated Montgomery Bell Academy before losing in overtime. Swafford was 13 of 25 for 187 yards in the game with a touchdown.
Another key player for the Eagles is receiver C.J. Sanders, who had four catches for 84 yards against MBA, including a 48-yard scoring grab.
“They have a real good quarterback,” said Carter. “And I think their receiver is big time. I don’t know that they have as many threats as Siegel, but they look bigger than Siegel on film.
“They scrimmaged Siegel, and I think it was pretty even. They definitely have a good football team.”
Carter said the Eagles run a spread offense, and like to put the ball in the air.
“They are definitely not as gifted at running back as Siegel, but their quarterback throws it well and they sling it around,” he said.
Carter said the Hilltoppers have made some personnel changes on defense in an effort to cover passes better.
“We will see if that helps us,” he said.
Science Hill will look for more good things from quarterback Malik McGue, who has totaled 1,215 yards of offense in four games. McGue leads the Big Seven Conference in rushing with 604 yards on 56 attempts, an average of 10.8 per carry.
McGue attempted 46 passes in last week’s loss to Siegel, but that total needs to be notched down this week, said Carter.
“Offensively we have to mix it up,” he said. “They are so big and strong, we will have to throw it and run it and have a good mix.
“At Siegel we left points off the board in the first half and shot ourselves in the foot. We can’t have that this week. Hopefully we will be consistent, move the ball, and sustain drives.”
As for Science Hill’s overall attitude, Carter said the players need to show they can bounce back.
“We’ve got to be able to experience a loss and come back,” he said. “This is new territory as far as this team. We don’t know exactly how they will respond, but this game is important. We need to win this for momentum for sure.”