West Rebels 2nd in 3-4A

Two weeks ago West Coach Scott Cummings and his squad exercised one demon when it defeated Powell for the first time in this decade.

Then this past Friday night, the Rebels had to feel like it had gotten the 1,000 pound gorilla off of its backs when it drilled another old nemesis, Knoxville Central, 30-7 at Bill Wilson Field. The reward for those two weeks' work is a second place finish in region 3-4A, and the opportunity to host a first, and potentially second, round playoff games.

West finishes the regular season at 6-4 overall, but 6-1 in region play. After a week 7 loss to region champion Maryville, the Rebel defense went to work and allowed only 17 points in its last three games – region wins over Clinton, Powell, and Central.

Cleveland, who finished third in region 4-4A, comes in to the first round with an overall record of 8-2. They were 5-2 in region play.

The two teams have met twice before in playoff action, splitting the two meetings. The most recent match up was a 28-24 West victory in 2003. Cleveland won 48-12 back in 1999.

Cleveland, back in the playoffs after missing a year ago, has a rich playoff history of its own. The Blue Raiders won back to back to back class 4A state championships in 1993, 1994, and 1995.

After opening the season with consecutive losses to Webb and arch rival Bearden, the Rebels have gone 6-2 down the stretch, losing only to Maryville and undefeated Morristown West, the region 2-4A champions. They appear to be playing their best football of the year right now, and especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Cleveland's only two losses of the year came to region foes Red Bank and Rhea County. After opening the season by winning its first 6 games, the Blue Raiders finished 2-2 in the last month of the regular season.

Senior Rebel running back T.J. Wilson finished the regular season with over 1,300 yards rushing for West. Cleveland will have to find a way to shut down his running ability, while at the same time controlling the passing attack of quarterback Jake Ryan. Ryan, along with receivers Ken Easterly and Reuben Glass could be the key to defeating Cleveland and advancing on to the second round.

West is playing well at the right time. With any breaks at all, they have a solid chance of advancing to the second round, and possibly on to a potential quarterfinal rematch with Maryville.

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