Owls Outlast Mustangs for Region Title

Ooltewah's Cameron Turner turns the corner around Dylan Blackwell Friday night in the Owls 45-44 2 overtime win over Walker Valley. (Photo by M.A. Locke)

It’s called the second season.

More precisely, prep football teams across the state are now gearing up for the TSSAA playoffs.

There is less confusion, fewer coaches are scratching their heads today. The first round matchups were keyed into the postseason formula and Friday’s regular-season outcomes filled in the blanks.

Twenty Chattanooga-area schools are in the massive playoff field.

No team had to work as hard as Ooltewah did in beating back Walker Valley, 45-44, in double overtime to win the Region 4-5A regular-season title.

The Owls got five touchdowns and 106 rushing yards from Rashun Freeman, but the outcome was finally determined when linebackers Jeremiah Jackson and Tyler Reid combined to stop Walker Valley running back Alex King on a two-point conversion try to end the game.

That win gave Ooltewah home field advantage through the first two rounds.

While earning playoff berths in each of the previous four seasons, the Owls have gotten beyond the second round only once. In 2012, Ooltewah reached the quarterfinals where it lost to Columbia, 31-13. In 2011, 2013 and 2014, the Owls lost in round two to Powell (42-21), East Hamilton (26-19) and Rhea County (47-14).

“Our first goal is to make the playoffs,” coach Mac Bryan said. “Second, we want to win the region championship. Back in the summer, we added a third goal – get past the second round. You can’t get to the last game (title game) if you can’t get past the second round.”

Bryan and the Owls continued senior night festivities with a post-game get-together in the school cafeteria and recognized football seniors and those from the band, cheerleaders and dance team as well, along with parents of those students.

“I had to leave,” Bryan said. “I was tired.”

While doing a phone interview, Bryan was taking a last look at film of Friday’s hard-fought victory before delving deeper into Clinton, the Owls’ first-round opponent.

“I know they like to throw the ball all over the place,” Bryan said. “We like to throw it, too, so it might be a long game. Clinton scores a lot of points (375) and they’ve given up some points (391).

2015 TSSAA Football Playoffs

First-Round Matchups, Area Teams

Friday, All Games 7 p.m. Local Time

Class 1A

Mt. Pleasant 6-4) at South Pittsburg (7-3)

Grace Baptist (5-5) at Fayetteville (8-2)

Moore County (6-4) at Whitwell (5-5)

Copper Basin (3-7) at Columbia Academy (9-1)

Class 2A

Eagleville (5-5) at Boyd-Buchanan (10-0)

Tyner (7-3) at Watertown (8-2)

Westmoreland (5-5) at Marion County (9-1)

Bledsoe County (5-5) at Forrest (9-1)

Class 3A

Smith County (6-4) at East Ridge (10-0)

Chattanooga Christian (7-3) at DeKalb County (7-3)

Sequatchie County (7-3) at Notre Dame (7-3)

Red Bank (3-7) at Upperman (8-2)

Class 4A

Giles County (3-7) at Stone Memorial (10-0)

East Hamilton (6-4) at Page (7-3)

Class 5A

Cleveland (5-5) at Farragut (9-1)

Campbell County (5-5) at Rhea County (7-3)

Soddy-Daisy (7-3) at Oak Ridge (9-1)

Clinton (4-6) at Ooltewah (8-2)

Class 6A

Riverdale (5-5) at Bradley Central (7-3)

Division II-AA

Baylor (8-2) bye

Pope John Paul (2-8) at McCallie (5-5)

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)

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