Preview: Halls and Powell

The Battle Of Emory Road. Separated by only a seven mile stretch of Emory Road, Halls High School and Powell High School share more than just a common street name in its address.

Many of the students of both Halls and Powell started their educations by attending elementary school together, attend church together, they participate in recreation sports together growing up, and they share common shopping, entertainment, and area eateries. Those factors make this more than just another football game.

Looking at the recent games on the field, Powell has won the last two, and three of the last four, but they've all been games that could have gone either way.

Last year the Panthers got a rare road win in the series, 14-10 at Halls. The year before that, Cody Watts hit Jay Courtney late in the game with a pass to secure a 7-0 win in a game played in the torrential rains of Hurricane Ivan. In 2003, Powell had the ball first and goal with under two minutes to play, trailing 24-17, but saw the Red Devils keep the Panthers out of the end zone, sacking Panther quarterback Cole Patrick with a jailbreak blitz on 4th down to preserve the win.

Both teams come in to the 2006 edition of the rivalry with 3-3 records. Powell is 2-1 in region play, while Halls stands at 1-2 in 3-4A. Rivalry aside, this one takes on additional importance, as these are the two teams that look to have the best shots at taking the 4th and final playoff spot for the region and the all important head to head tiebreaker, should they end up tied for that last playoff spot.

Halls came into this year after losing all 11 defensive starters, and returning only a handful of offensive starters. They are currently on a two game win streak, most recently shutting out Clinton 34-0. Quarterback Gary Cooper has found his target over the last few games in speedy wide receiver Daniel Dayton.

Powell is also currently on a two game win streak after a 17-13 region road win over South-Doyle. Two weeks ago the Panthers scrapped the I-formation offense that they have employed for more than a decade, in favor of a split veer scheme designed to take advantage of the talents of quarterback Kenny Cruze and a nice pair of tailbacks in senior Josh Huffaker and junior Tex Clemons. So far, that change has been positive.

Both defenses have played well over the recent weeks.

The 11 new starters for Halls have gained more and more confidence with every game, while the Panther defense, led by the mammoth nose tackle John Bruhin (6'5" and 305 pounds, committed to Marshall University), has been steady over the last few weeks, just as was expected of that unit coming in to the season.

Each head coach will try to keep the rivalry factor in check with his squad this week, but even they know that this one means something extra to the winner. Powell's Matt Lowe and Halls' Kevin Julian are each graduates of the school where they now coach, and each has been through this game 4 times as a player.

Another huge crowd is expected for this game. Crowds in excess of 7,000 pack the stadium where the game is being played and Friday night should be no exception at Powell's Scarbro Stadium.

If you can't make it to the stadium in person, you can hear the broadcast of the 2006 Battle Of Emory Road on radio station AM 620-WRJZ, beginning with the pre-game show at 7 PM.

Prep Tennessee Top Stories