Two of the top players for the Eagles are Mr. Football finalists quarterback Hogan Whitmire and linebacker Gervell Morgan. Despite missing two games with cracked ribs, Morgan finished the regular season with 88 solo tackles and 28 assists. He also intercepted two passes, returning one for a TD, and recovered three fumbles, helping the Eagles win nine games by the state’s 35-point mercy rule.
Whitmire once was thought to be Baylor’s quarterback of the future. But when Signal Mountain began its program two years ago, Whitmire, who had grown up on the mountain, elected to go to the public school. He gave up a year of varsity competition in transferring but has led the Eagles to a 20-2 record the last two seasons after one year of junior varsity work.
Whitmire has completed 72 of 115 passes for 1,765 yards and 22 TDs and has gone the last eight games without an interception.
“Our kids are excited,” McNeal said, “it’s an opportunity for us and I think it will be a great atmosphere.”
Mt. Juliet, 9-2 after a 58-26 win over McGavock last week, travels to Rutherford County tonight for a 7 p.m. game with District 7AAA champion Smyrna at Robert L. Raikes Stadium.
The Bulldogs have won five straight games since a 30-14 mid-season loss to Ensworth. Smyrna is averaging over 30 points per contest and is allowing just 11 points per game. In fact, the Bulldog defense has thrown three shutouts so far this season.
Defensively, Smyrna relies heavily on linebacker Deon Meadows -- a Tennessee Titans Mr. Football finalist. Meadows recorded a team-high 87 tackles with two sacks in the regular sea-son. He’s a talented defender with speed.
“I’ve seen their ranking all year,” said MJ coach Roger Perry, “and never paid much attention to them. But now we’ve got to play Smyrna and we’ve spent many, many hours studying them on film.
“It’s no surprise they’re the No. 1-ranked team in all classifications. They’re a solid football team through and through. Defense is probably their trademark. They’ve got 11 hungry people over on that side of the ball.”
Tailback Jeremiah Bryson leads the Smyrna offense with just over 1,000 yard rushing and 14 touchdowns. QB Steve Wilson has thrown for over 1,200 yards and 13 scores.
“We’ve had a great week of preparation, our guys known what they are up against,” Perry said. "It’s one of those games where we’ve got to step up and play a complete game in order to give ourselves a chance.”