Cumberland Gap did indeed secure a number three seed and a home playoff game with Friday’s win over Grainger. The Panthers will host district foe West Greene Friday in the first round of the postseason.
Tennessee puts their football brackets together a lot like the NCAA basketball tournament with the teams not knowing for sure who they’ll be playing until the pairings are announced on Saturday. The teams from each class are grouped into four geographic quadrants that can include teams from three or four districts and each group is seeded one through eight.
For the playoffs CGHS (7-3) competes in Class 3A. The seeding for their quadrant includes: No. 1 Elizabethton (8-2), No. 2 Sullivan North (9-1), No. 3 Cumberland Gap, No. 4 Gatlinburg-Pittman (6-4), No. 5 Chuckey-Doak (6-4), No. 6 West Greene (5-5), No. 7 Unicoi County (5-5) and No. 8 Johnson County (4-6).
Elizabethton hosts Johnson County and the winner will play the Chuckey-Doak at Gatlinburg-Pittman winner. The Panthers host West Greene and the winner will take on the Unicoi County at Sullivan North winner in round two.
West Greene is kind of like Middlesboro in that they play a lot of underclassmen and have improved quite a bit from the start of the year. Cumberland Gap won 21-6 on the Buffaloes’ home field back on Sept. 14. in a tight game that saw the Panthers make a pair of goal line stands and take advantage of a turnover deep in West territory. The loss dropped West to 1-4, but their only loss since then was at Greeneville.
The Buffaloes earned the six seed by closing the season with three straight district wins, including a 33-27 victory at Chuckey-Doak in their regular season finale on Oct. 19. West had an open date last week, so they’ll be well-rested for the playoff game.
The Panthers rediscovered their high-powered offense just in time last week to pull out a 47-42 win over Grainger. Cumeberland Gap had been held to 14 or fewer points for three straight games going in to the regular season finale.
Cumberland Gap is hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2007, which was also the year they won the only post-season game in the ten-year history of the school.
Friday’s game has all the ingredients to be a real barn-burner.
Elsewhere in the Blue Ridge Athletic Conference, conference champ Greeneville (7-3) is a No. 3 seed in the Class 4A playoffs and will host Gibbs (6-4) in the first round. The winner of that game will face either No. 2 Knoxville-Fulton (8-2) or No. 7 Knoxville Carter (5-5) in round two. On the other side of the bracket Grainger (4-6) squeaked in as a No. 8 seed and will visit No. 1 Livingston Academy (9-1) Friday. The winner of that game advances to round two against either No. 4 DeKalb County (9-1) or No. 5 Sequoyah (6-4).